NSB News Release

Two Innovative Efforts Earn the National Science Board Science and Society Award

A rendering of the National Science Board Science and Society Award medallion.

A rendering of the National Science Board Science and Society Award medallion. (Credit and Larger Version)

May 2, 2023

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – The National Science Board is delighted to recognize two organizations for their extraordinary efforts to increase participation and diversity in the science and engineering fields.

The Board chose the New York Hall of Science, an interactive, hands-on science center and learning lab, for its inventive approach to promoting informal and equitable science and technology learning and the National Academy of Engineering for its EngineerGirl website, which nurtures a more inclusive community for budding young female engineers.

The Science and Society Award honors individuals and groups that have made substantial contributions in the arts, media, education, or training programs to increase public understanding and appreciation of science and engineering in the United States.

Dan Reed, Chair of the National Science Board, will present the award to the New York Hall of Science and EngineerGirl on May 9, 2023, during the National Science Foundation’s Awards Gala at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

“We are truly grateful for the brilliant minds behind EngineerGirl and the New York Hall of Science,” Dario Gil, Chair of the Board’s External Engagement Committee, said. “Both efforts deeply resonate with Board members’ priorities to increase diversity and equity in STEM access and education.”

The New York Hall of Science

You know you've come to the right place when you see a striking rocket ship outside a curved building.

The New York Hall of Science, or NYSCI, was originally built for the 1964 World’s Fair and is located in Flushing Meadows – Corona Park in Queens, New York City.

Although its iconic location remains the same, this innovative science center and learning lab has evolved to become a global leader in STEM education and an incubator for new forms of learning. It offers hands-on, interactive exhibits that actively engage visitors in using the tools and practice of science and technology to investigate problems and create solutions.

“We want to give people the opportunity to explore and use scientific methods in a similar way to how scientists work in real life,” Margaret Honey, the President and CEO of NYSCI, said. “Our science center has a deep focus on building experiences that are both joyful and relevant.”

Honey will accept the award on behalf of NYSCI during the awards ceremony on May 9. “When I got the call that we received the award, I felt humbled and honored,” Honey said. “Many of us at NYSCI have either worked for the National Science Foundation or received funding from the agency at some point in our academic and professional trajectories,” Honey said. “At NYSCI, we put all our expertise and experience into practices that connect others with scientific possibilities.”

NYSCI engages teachers and students through a program of regular visitation, helps to integrate STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) into curriculums through professional learning and coaching activities for teachers, and provides free memberships for families with continuous opportunities for learning and community engagement.

The science center serves 400,000 visitors annually, with many hailing from the diverse neighborhoods of Queens. NYSCI has had a longstanding commitment to its local community of Corona, Queens where over 60 percent of the residents come from Central and South American countries. To help meet a need for high-quality early learning experiences, NYSCI, in partnership with the City of New York, created the city’s first science-themed preschool on its campus. The preschool opened its doors on September 8, 2022, and currently serves over 200 3-4 years olds from the Corona neighborhood.

Additionally, NYSCI hosts the Science Career Ladder program, which is a comprehensive youth and workforce development initiative to engage high school and college students who have been historically underrepresented in STEM careers. The program’s participants help visitors feel welcome while exploring science concepts through hands on facilitation.

“We are proud to run a program that is enriching STEM fields with diverse talent,” Honey said. “A typical class of approximately 100 students will, on average, speak 23 different languages and many of these young people are the first in their families to obtain college degrees.” In the last three decades, 95% of participants in the Science Career Ladder program have enrolled in college, with two-thirds declaring STEM majors and 70 percent pursuing work in STEM fields. 

NYSCI also reaches beyond New York City through its research, publications, and innovative digital products, which are used by more than one million learners worldwide.

In the near future, the science center plans to put on an exhibit all about bubbles, or, more accurately, the science of soap. NYSCI designers and engineers are also planning a large, permanent exhibit titled, CityWorks, which will explore cities as engineered and ever-changing environments that are constantly being modified by human, environmental, and other factors. 

NYSCI’s exhibits and programs provide connective tissue between scientific endeavors and everyday life. “We want all young people to have rich opportunities to ask questions and be curious,” Honey said.


While you can physically walk in to the NYSCI, you can virtually enter the EngineerGirl website.  

The National Academy of Engineering launched EngineerGirl to inspire women and girls to become engineers in 2001.  

Since then, the bright, colorful site has shared new, relevant, and engaging content that features a variety of role models and ways to engage with the overall mission. EngineerGirl focuses on empowering young women to engage in engineering and consider engineering as a career path because girls and women remain underrepresented in the engineering profession.  

“Although our target audience is middle school-aged girls, we’ve received a lot of interest from high school-aged girls as well as the general public,” said Simil Raghavan, the Director of the Inclusive, Diverse, and Equitable Engineering for All initiatives at the National Academy of Engineering. 

Raghavan will accept the award on behalf of EngineerGirl during the awards ceremony on May 9. “When I learned that EngineerGirl was selected for the NSB Science and Society Award, I was thrilled,” she said. “We plan to display our award in the hallway of our building and are excited to use it as a talking point to share EngineerGirl with visitors.” 

EngineerGirl highlights diverse female engineers from a variety of specialties, shares what their jobs entail, and provides information on how to become an engineer. “People want to see themselves represented in future careers,” Raghavan said. 

The site includes a question-and-answer section with monthly featured questions between students and engineers, sponsors a popular writing contest for K-12 students with a monetary prize, and runs an ambassadors program. 

EngineerGirl Ambassadors are female high school students in the U.S. who design, develop, and implement projects in their communities to encourage younger girls, particularly those with fewer opportunities, to think about engineering careers while engaging in hands-on practical experience.  

The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) launched the site with input from a Girls Advisory Board made up of bright, energic girls from the U.S. and Canada. In 2012, a new Girls Advisory Board guided a redesign and modernization of the website. The EngineerGirl Steering Committee oversees the web platform and associated outreach programs in addition to advising the NAE on new opportunities to support underserved youth. 

“The steering committee is the most important part of EngineerGirl,” Raghavan said. “The team has been essential from the beginning, weathering many NAE staff changes, to keep the site relevant and interesting,” she said.  

Looking toward the future, Raghavan said that the NAE intends to expand the concept behind the EngineerGirl Ambassadors program to reach underrepresented youth of all genders who may not know they want to be engineers yet. “Our Engineer Pathways website will be a place for everyone to see themselves as an engineer,” Raghavan said.  


About the National Science Board

The National Science Foundation Act of 1950 charged the NSB with two roles: governing board of the NSF and advisor to Congress and the President on policy matters related to STEM research and STEM education. Selected for their distinguished service and accomplishments in academia, government, and the private sector, the Board’s 24 presidentially appointed members are leaders in STEM research and education.


Media Contact: Elizabeth Jeffers, National Science Board, (703) 292-7496, ejeffers@nsf.gov

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2023 budget of $9.5 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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