Urban Advantage

Urban Advantage (UA) is a standards-based partnership program designed to improve students' understanding of scientific inquiry through collaborations between urban public school systems and science cultural institutions such as zoos, botanical gardens, museums, and science centers. UA involves institutions outside the formal education system that support the science-specific goals of the public school system.

Urban Advantage was launched in 2004 in New York City by the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in collaboration with the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, the New York Botanical Garden, the New York Hall of Science, the Queens Botanical Garden, the Staten Island Zoo, the Wildlife Conservation Society's Bronx Zoo and New York Aquarium, and the New York City Department of Education, with leadership funding from the New York City Council.

UA began by assessing and responding to the science education needs of NYC middle schools. Assessment results showed a severe shortage of qualified science teachers. At the same time, a new city-wide mandate required all eighth grade students to complete long-term scientific investigations (known as "exit projects" in New York City). This provided the program with a clear focus: eighth grade student exit projects.


Urban Advantage Field Trip Information

Bronx Zoo

The Zoo is a huge place – 265 acres! It is best to come with a plan for your visit. Try to focus on a theme, like Asian animals, African animals, predators, primates or Rainforest animals. Consider having your students share in an activity to observe mammal behaviors or how species interact in our exhibits. It is recommended that you pre-visit the Zoo on your own using your ivory-colored Teacher Planning voucher, so you can familiarize yourself with our layout. No reservation is required to pre-visit us using your Teacher Planning voucher.

Please visit http://bit.ly/UAProgramsatBZ for information about the different kinds of school programs, guided tours and self-guided visits available to Urban Advantage classes at the Bronx Zoo. You can also use the web form on that page to schedule your visit.

If you have any questions about planning your Bronx Zoo trip, please email us at bzeducation@wcs.org.

New York Aquarium

Dive in and experience the incredible diversity of the world's oceans! During your visit, you'll see our revitalized exhibits, experience the thrills of our Aquatheater, and be a part of the New York Aquarium's amazing transformation. It is best to come with a plan for your visit. Consider having your students share in an activity to observe mammal behaviors or how species interact in our exhibits. It is recommended that you pre-visit the Aquarium on your own using your ivory-colored Teacher Planning voucher, so you can familiarize yourself with our layout. No reservation is required to pre-visit us using your Teacher Planning voucher.

Please visit http://bit.ly/UAProgramsatNYA for information about the different kinds of school programs, guided tours, self-guided visits and outreach programs available to Urban Advantage classes at the New York Aquarium. You can also use the web form on that page to schedule your visit.

If you have any questions about planning your New York Aquarium trip, please email us at nyaeducation@wcs.org

PLEASE NOTE: Class Visit (blue or purple) vouchers expire May 31.

We look forward to seeing you!

Urban Advantage Framework: Six Components

  • High-quality professional development for teachers and administrators
  • Classroom materials and equipment that promote scientific inquiry and authentic investigations
  • Access to UA partner institutions through free school and family field trips
  • Outreach through family events, celebrations of student achievement, and parent coordinator workshops
  • Capacity-building and sustainability structures, including a network of demonstration schools and support for the development of lead teachers
  • Assessment of program goals, student learning, systems delivery, and outcomes

For more information, read the Urban Advantage brochure.

Impacts of Urban Advantage

  • 157 schools, 376 teachers, over 38,000 students
  • All 51 districts in all 5 boroughs
  • Average of 2.4 teachers per UA school
  • Over 6000 participants in this year's Family Science Sunday event (a 50% increase from last year)
  • In science, UA schools outperformed non-UA schools in 2008-09 with an average of 55.9 percent of students meeting the standards on the 8th Grade New York State Science Examination, compared to 46.2 percent of students at non-UA schools.
  • Participating in UA also contributes to post-8th grade outcomes. Students at UA schools were found to be 22.5 percent more likely to take the Living Environment Regents exam in the 8th or 9th grade and showed significantly higher levels of proficiency that students in non-UA schools.

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