SESP-Museum Education Partnership Wins National Award

SESP-Museum Education Partnership Wins National Award


The Early Elementary Science Partnership (E2SP), a program co-led by SESP, won the 2013 American Alliance of Museums education award for excellence in programming. This multi-year reform effort for high-needs Chicago schools targeted teachers of grades K to 3 with a range of resources to improve science teaching and science leadership development.

SESP collaborated with museum partners to link their resources to district science curricula and provide supports including professional development, field trips, in-class instructional support and school leadership development. SESP is a partner in this project with the Field Museum, Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, Chicago Children’s Museum, Lincoln Park Zoo and the Chicago Public Schools.

Through SESP, teachers from Chicago elementary schools completed a two-year sequence of course work as preparation for a teacher leader endorsement. Professional development also increased understanding of content as well as connections with exhibits at four Chicago science museums.

AAM Awards
The American Alliance of Museums (AAM) presented its 2013 EdCom Excellence Awards recognizing outstanding contributions to museum education at its annual meeting on May 19. E2SP won the award for excellence in programming, and awards were also given to the Smithsonian American Art Museum for excellence in practice and to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History for excellence in published resources. 

“These awardees were exemplary in their pursuit of their mission, achieving a combination of creativity and scholarship that stood out among the many qualified entries we received. This year’s award recipients embody the best practices in our field,” stated Hassan Najjar, EdCom vice chair for awards. 

Associate professor Steven McGee directed the project for SESP. He commented, “This award affirms the power of collaboration. Each E2SP partner made pivotal contributions to the success if the program. Northwestern benefited from the partnership. E2SP served as the breeding ground for our new master’s degree in teacher leadership."

Innovative partnership
E2SP provided a new way for teachers, schools, universities and museums to work together to improve science teaching and learning. As a result, participating schools prioritized science in their K-3 curriculum, school-based collaboration increased, teachers’ science teaching practice improved and students began seeing themselves as scientists, AAM found. The Early Elementary Science Partnership was funded by the Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust, the Polk Bros. Foundation, and Motorola Solutions Foundation. More information is at

Caption: As part of the Early Elementary School Partnership program, students engage in science activities during a field trip at the Field Museum in Chicago.

By Marilyn Sherman
Last Modified: 7/18/13