Levin to help plan for science ed center



After stints consulting for Major League Baseball and a federal postal commission, Yale President Richard Levin is adding Hartford’s proposed science center to his list of extracurricular activities.

Levin will head a Strategic Planning Committee for the Connecticut Center for Science & Exploration, a new science education facility being planned as part of Gov. John G. Rowland’s downtown Hartford development initiative. With the center slated for groundbreaking at Adriaen’s Landing in 2007, Levin’s committee will begin work next month.

“This project is something that’s a very high priority to Gov. Rowland,” Levin said. “It seemed like a good idea and worthy of our attention.”

The Center’s mission will include training primary and secondary school teachers to teach science, and it may provide workshops or opportunities for museum staff to assist teachers in their schools. Staff members may also give presentations in schools, Yale Associate Vice President Don Filer said.

Levin will lead his group in the creation of a concept plan — a document detailing fundamental questions about the facility. The first draft of the plan is due next year, with the final plan due in two years.

Matt Fleury, director of marketing and communications for the Capital City Economic Development Authority said Levin — who is responsible for developing the museum’s concept and content — will be critical to the project, particularly because of his background in education.

“It’s very, very significant to have a person of [Levin’s] stature and an institution of Yale’s stature involved in this project,” Fleury said. “[Levin] and Yale bring a wealth of resources and experience.”

Fleury also cited Yale’s Peabody Museum, which Levin said he will use as a guide for developing the science center’s education mission and outreach programs. Peabody Museum Director Michael Donoghue will also serve on the Center’s committee.

This summer, Levin hired a recent graduate to visit and research science centers around the country. Keira Driansky ’03, a Marshall scholar, visited and reviewed museums with missions similar to that of the new Center, including the Exploratorium in San Francisco, the St. Louis Science Center, the Boston Museum of Science, and the Chicago Academy of Science.

Filer said the committee will use this information in planning Hartford’s science center.

The idea of the Center has been in existence for nearly three years. Levin said the concept’s history is complicated, but he said he expects a smoother future.

“The really serious work on it started this spring when the governor decided to focus and enlist a number of volunteers to make the project happen,” Levin said.

The science center is part of a series of major initiatives in downtown Hartford meant to revitalize the city. The Adriaen’s Landing development — scheduled to open in 2005 — includes plans for a convention center, hotel, retail area and housing.

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