Research and Development Assistant

  • Deadline / Program Start: 2022-04-29
  • Organization: New York Hall of Science
  • Organization Type: Museum/Gallery/Exhibition Space
  • Grant / Salary: $52,000-$58,000 annually
  • Location: Corona, NY
  • Recurring: Array
  • URL: Link

DEPARTMENT ROLE
The Research and Development Assistant is an integral part of NYSCI’s Research, Exhibits, and Programs (REP) Department. The REP department includes researchers, informal STEM educators, exhibit designers, and program developers who work together to create and study innovative and empowering pathways into STEM learning for children and adults at the museum and within NYSCI’s diverse local community. Project teams bring together individuals with a wide range of perspectives and areas of expertise to identify shared questions and develop learning experiences that help all learners explore complex STEM ideas, build confidence with tools and materials, and see STEM as an integral part of everyday life. Researchers within the REP department support this work by collaborating with project teams to develop and test new programs, digital tools, exhibit experiences, and hands-on activities, and by gathering and sharing evidence to support the iterative refinement of new educational materials and approaches. The research and development team aspires to contribute to NYSCI as a learning community, and to the advancement of knowledge in STEM education and museum fields.
The role of Research and Development Assistant provides an opportunity for a recent graduate to develop skills conducting research on how people learn in real-world environments, translating research findings to inform decisions made by creative teams, and developing equitable educational approaches. The ideal candidate will have knowledge of qualitative research with children or families, experience working with collaborative teams, and familiarity with literature on informal science learning and/or family learning. Experience working with Spanish-speaking audiences is particularly desirable.
The Research and Development Assistant will have both immediate and longer-term responsibilities. Short-term responsibilities will include contributing to the research components of current projects to inform the development of new visitor experiences in NYSCI’s exhibits and programs. In the longer term, the research assistant will work closely with research colleagues, museum educators, and designers to assist in developing new lines of research and development. The particular subject matter of these projects will vary, but all will focus on how informal STEM learning experiences can be organized to ensure they are equitable, feasible, and provoke sustained, creative engagement for all learners.
FUNCTION
The Research and Development Assistant will provide support to research projects that pertain to museum-based activities, exhibits, and/or programs at NYSCI and within the community. Research and development activities required for the position are likely to include documenting and testing new teaching and learning approaches or resources, and conducting observations of visitors’ engagement with new exhibits or participants’ experiences in structured programs. Across all of their project work, the research and development assistant will be closely supervised and mentored by a research associate and/or senior scientist. The assistant will routinely document prototyping efforts and formative research to understand how people approach and respond to various STEM learning experiences; work with project teams to identify and develop relevant methods for capturing evidence of emergent STEM learning in informal settings; write up and communicate research findings; collaborate with designers, educators, and facilitators to interpret findings to improve resources being developed; conduct literature reviews to help build connections to current research on informal STEM learning; assist in the development of grant proposals; develop conference presentations; and write for both for the research community and broader audiences.
PRINCIPAL RESPONSIBILITIES
● Gather/and or create materials and signage for prototyping sessions and formative research
● Assist in playtesting and prototyping STEM activities for diverse audiences
● Assist with the collection of qualitative and quantitative data, for example: conducting interviews, focus groups, or observations with visitors; administering and/or collecting surveys.
● Obtain consent/assent as required by ethics/IRB guidelines and maintain confidentiality of data
● Assist in training museum facilitators to help lead testing sessions
● Participate in debrief sessions with facilitators and project team members following testing sessions to discuss research findings
● Communicate regularly with research, education, and exhibit development teams to contribute to the planning and development of activities, programs, exhibits, or digital tools.
● Write up summaries of prototyping and formative research findings (detailing activity development process and implementation for activities/resources tested)
● Coordinate scheduling of meetings and testing sessions with research and design staff
● Work evenings and weekends as needed to test materials with family audiences
● Review and summarize relevant research literature to guide project activities
● Conduct outreach to recruit participants for testing and focus groups
● Maintain communications with external project partners as needed
● Actively participate in department and all-staff meetings to share insights and best practices from active projects

SUPERVISORY RESPONSIBILITIES
N/A  
QUALIFICATIONS
BA/BS with relevant work experience, or MA in STEM Education, Museum Studies, Psychology or a related field
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE AND SKILLS
● Commitment to the philosophy and mission of the New York Hall of Science.
● Passion for and knowledge about the importance of STEM learning for all.
● Interest in and knowledge of science, technology, engineering and math
● Ability to actively listen to what others are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, and ask questions as appropriate.
● Familiarity with ethical guidelines for research with human subjects
● Prior experience conducting naturalistic observations, interviews, and/or focus groups in STEM education or other related fields through coursework or job experience
● Ability to work with interdisciplinary and collaborative project teams
● Strong communications skills with the ability to express ideas clearly both in written and oral communications to a variety of audiences.
● Ability to provide relevant and timely information to supervisors and co-workers to advance project goals
● Ability to represent the organization to customers, the public and other external sources, in person, in writing or by telephone.
● Ability to communicate in languages other than English, particularly Spanish. This is directly relevant to the position, as NYSCI’s audience frequently includes speakers of other languages.
     
COMPENSATION
Commensurate with education, skills and experience; includes an excellent NYSCI benefits package. Anticipated salary range $52,000-58,000.
BENEFITS
NYSCI strives to be an inclusive and equitable place to work. We work to foster diverse voices and perspectives, empower staff as problem solvers, and support professional growth for all.
The New York Hall of Science also offers generous benefits and perks for all regular full-time employees.
These currently includes:
• health, dental and vision insurance options
• Flexible spending accounts for healthcare, dependent care and commuter benefits
• Pension plan and 401k plan
• Free life insurance coverage
• Paid vacation and sick leave
• 13 paid holidays off
• Flexible work schedules
• Employee Assistance Program
• Free onsite parking

Organizational Background: NYSCI is New York City’s science center, a place where everyone is invited to explore
how science and engineering shape our world, and how we can use scientific tools and ideas to answer questions and solve problems. Visitors pose questions, design solutions, explore phenomena, and work together to make amazing things happen.
Located in Queens, one of the most diverse counties in the U.S., NYSCI welcomes 400,000 visitors annually, including families, students on field trips, and camp and after school groups. NYSCI also works with thousands of teachers each year to make classroom science more relevant, exciting and meaningful to students, and conducts innovative research about how science learning happens through everyday experience.
Our exhibitions, programs, and products are informed by strategies of engagement called Design, Make, Play. The defining characteristics of Design, Make, Play — open-ended exploration, imaginative learning, personal relevance, deep engagement and delight — are the ingredients that inspire passionate STEM learners.