The 49ers Museum’s education program has been off to the races during the first half off its inaugural school year, serving roughly 10,000 students and over 3,000 adult chaperones over the first four months of operation of the STEM based field-trip program at Levi’s® Stadium.
With the start of 2015, the Museum launched Free Family Learning Nights, which will take place on the second Friday of every month through June. The goal of Family Learning Nights is to bring families together to learn about STEM, engage in the content that their children are tackling in schools on a daily basis and have a great time exploring the Museum and all it has to offer.
Each Family Learning Night is broken up into two hour segments: the first hour being a hands-on, content-rich lab activity that pairs parents with their students in a challenge that must be accomplished as a team. The second hour of the event is free exploration of the 49ers Museum, where the families are invited to utilize the different technology and explore the exhibits through a STEM-based lens.
“We wanted to create an opportunity for students to associate learning with fun and for parents to take a more active role in how their kids engage with STEM, and Family Learning Nights hits that ball out of the park” said Jesse Lovejoy, Director of the 49ers Museum. “Our program has had a lot of special ‘firsts’ in our inaugural year, but the opening night of this program—seeing parents and kids so enthralled, smiling, having fun while learning—is certainly one of the most fulfilling and exciting we’ve seen.
The excitement and support of January 9th’s inaugural Family Learning Night was just the start of the impact this program will have. On the night, 122 beaming children from grades kindergarten through eight and their chaperones filled the Denise DeBartolo York Education Center, In the Game Gallery, and Morabito Theater as they dove into the engineering process using examples of football-specific equipment and its progression over the years. Following this in-depth and hands-on analysis of the engineering process, the families were tasked with engineering their own football using unlikely resources and were confronted with different challenges along the way.
At the end of the program’s first year, more than 1,200 parents and their children will have been served through this new program, all absolutely free. It is also possible that due to extremely high demand, more sessions may be opened to accommodate the need. As with all of the museum’s educational programs, the goal is to inspire children to engage in STEM activities through the platform of football and 49ers History, and Family Learning Night not only continues that mission, but establishes the foundation for a support system for children to continue their learning outside of the classroom.