Corporate Social Responsibility

Case Study: New York Hall of Science

A science museum brings STEM education to classrooms

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With more than 450 exhibits and a rich history of education programs, NYSCI depends on a robust network to connect facilitators like Anthony Negron in Queens to distant students. Cisco network and collaboration technology transformed the NYSCI network to create a more interactive, engaging learning experience for more than 500,000 students a year.

The Issue: An outdated network puts virtual programs at risk

Founded in 1964, the New York Hall of Science (NYSCI) is a hands-on science museum with fun, elegant exhibits to engage children, families, and teachers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). As demand for its programming grew, the museum’s outdated network became unmanageable and unreliable. Part of the exhibit hall, built in a former concrete bunker, had no network access and could not be used for distance learning programs. About 2pm, the network would lose its ability to connect to the Internet. Employees who needed email access had to go home to work, and organizations looking to partner with the museum on events chose other locations. The lack of technology put NYSCI’s strong following at risk.

  • 50,000+ visitors participate in distance learning through schools, libraries, community centers and hospitals.
  • 450 exhibits offer interactive investigation of biochemistry, network science, mathematics, astronomy, physics, and genetics.
  • 4000+ teachers attend professional development at NYSCI.

The Solution: A new network infrastructure modernizes museum

With equipment and expertise donated by Cisco, NYSCI built a collaboration studio on the exhibit floor and upgraded wired and wireless infrastructure throughout the facility. Mobile carts managed by trained facilitators enable distant students to do hands-on experiments and inquiry-based learning from any exhibit in the museum. NYSCI can host live, interactive events such as GeniGames, an online dragon breeding game and research project to study the effects of gaming on students. Teams of students play onsite with classmates cheering remotely as they all learn about genetics.

  • Cisco TelePresence endpoints in the collaboration studio connect NYSCI and its programming to schools, libraries, community centers, and hospitals around the United States.
  • New wired and wireless LANs help visitors engage and connect the STEM learning center to research institutions.
  • A secure guest network enables Internet access for teachers during professional development and attendees at events.
  • Connected monitors and devices enable real-time data collection and sharing via apps to conduct research and experiments. 

Impact Multiplied

Cisco restored NYSCI’s virtual connections and connected the science museum to a human network of potential partners to expand their reach. When NYSCI launched a data analysis and literacy program with Boston University, they tapped Cisco Networking Academy students to participate as researchers, studying networks—social networks, cell network, brain networks, and more. With Cisco’s support, NYSCI is better able to deliver on its goal to indulge curiosity and nurture creativity.

  • Network capacity has improved by 300% to support a cloud-based platform and services-based architecture.
  • Using cloud-based services, the museum is able to meet PCI compliance rules, address and enhance disaster recovery and maintain business continuity.
  • NYSCI has expanded revenue by becoming a go-to location in New York City for science events such as the Makers Faire with 74,000 visitors over 2 days.

“We didn’t realize the relationship Cisco has with schools and school districts. They have it and they are willing to share it and facilitate these relationships…Well after the equipment is installed, the Cisco education people are still involved. They have really been there for us.”
Stephen Miles Uzzo, Vice President of Science & Technology, New York Hall of Science