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.

Virtual Field Trips at the

Bronx Zoo & New York Aquarium

The Wildlife Conservation Society has created exciting virtual experiences for Urban Advantage schools! Led by our instructors at the Bronx Zoo and the New York Aquarium, these programs will guide your students through a series of videos and hands-on activities and lessons offering opportunities for students to engage in science practices at the middle school level. If you have any questions about planning your virtual field trip, please email us at bzeducation@wcs.org.

To use your Urban Advantage voucher at the Bronx Zoo or New York Aquarium,

please visit our Urban Advantage store.

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

  • 292 schools, 890 teachers, over 395,000 students since 2005
  • All 51 city council districts in all 5 boroughs
  • 46% of NYC middle schools participated in UA in FY18
  • Average of 2.4 teachers per UA school
  • Over 9000 participants in this year's Family Science Sunday event (a 25% 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

Check out our interactive map!

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