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New York Hall of Science awarded federal funding for project on artificial intelligence

May. 25, 2023 By Bill Parry

New York Hall of Science (NYSCI) will play a key role in the future of artificial and natural intelligence after U.S. Rep. Grace Meng announced that the institution in Flushing Meadows Corona Park has been awarded nearly a half-million dollars in federal funding from the National Science Foundation over the next five years.

NYSCI will be part of a $20 million initiative led by Columbia University to establish an AI Institute for Artificial and Natural Intelligence (ARNI), an interdisciplinary center that will bring together several top research institutions to focus on a national priority: connecting the major progress made in AI systems to the revolution in understanding the brain.

“For decades, NYSCI has had a tremendous impact in our region, increasing the knowledge of science for millions of students, teachers and families, and I am excited as it takes part in this new and critical initiative,” Meng said. “I look forward to seeing the work and contributions that NYSCI’s team makes to this project, and the impact it will have on its visitors to our borough.”

NYSCI was also selected by NASA to host solar eclipse community events.Photo courtesy of NYSCI

Over the next five years, NYSCI will serve as a collaborative museum outreach partner and the home of the Youth Residency program to develop and test new exhibit activities that foster public engagement around AI and Neuroscience. Through interactive public engagement, NYSCI will advance one plank of the ARNI program: to invite American youth and their families to discover how our brains work, how AI can help people see exciting parts of being human by experiencing and understanding how memories form, and to tinker with how AI is the same and different from the way humans think.

“NYSCI is excited to collaborate with the Artificial and Natural Intelligence Institute’s Youth Residency program to engage Explainers, who are part of our signature Science Career Ladder program, and foster public engagement around AI and Neuroscience,” NYSI President and CEO Dr. Margaret Honey said. “This five-year partnership will invite visitors and families to discover how our brains work and explore the intriguing connections between humans and machine.”

Funding for the project is also provided through the Department of Defense. NYSI was also selected by NASA to host a series of astronomy-related community events in the run up to the April 2024 solar eclipse. Part of NASA’s Next Gen STEM program, NYSCI has been designated as a “community anchor” and will serve as a “local hub bringing NASA STEM and space science to students and families in traditionally underserved areas.” The solar eclipse will occur on April 8, 2024.

NYSCI is one of 17 institutions selected by NASA to receive grants to help make these one- to two-year projects a reality, enhancing the local impact and strengthening their ability to build sustainable connections between their communities and NASA. “Community anchors” host events that introduce space science to communities across the nation and broaden student participation in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics).

“The sky is our learning lab and a solar eclipse is a free science experiment that everyone can — and should — experience. It’s the perfect opportunity to bring the community together and share exciting, understandable STEM ideas,” Honey said. “We are thrilled to continue our strong working relationship with NASA and experience the majesty of the 2024 solar eclipse with children and families across New York.”

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