Seminars on Science: A Leader in Online Science Education

In 1997, as part of its effort to address the national crisis in science education, the American Museum of Natural History created the National Center for Science Literacy, Education and Technology (NCSLET) within its Education Department. NCSLET was designed to use both traditional publishing and the internet to bring the Museum’s vast scientific and educational resources to students, teachers, and families across the country.

The following year, with strong support from The Atlantic Philanthropies, the Museum began developing Seminars on Science, a set of online courses for teachers. Phase One (1998-2002) focused on the designing and developing a course model. For the first three years, courses were available to school districts on a subscription basis through Classroom Connect. Since then, the Museum has offered the program directly to individuals, higher education institutions and other organizations.

Encouraged by positive external reviews and with additional support from The Atlantic Philanthropies, Phase Two (2004-2008) explored the larger framework within which teacher professional development takes place in the United States. We researched and developed pilot partnerships with a number of higher education, K-12 and informal science institutions, many of which continue to the present day.

Phase Three of the Seminars on Science program (2008-present) has focused on scale, sustainability, and impact in the following areas:

  • New Course Development
    Seminars on Science has added five new courses since 2008, including Evolution, The Solar System, Water: Environmental Science, Climate Change, and The Brain: Structure, Function, and Evolution.
  • Enrollment Growth
    The program has grown from serving approximately 200 to approximately 1,200 teachers per year. We regularly present at scientific and educational conferences.
  • Ongoing Innovation
    Seminars on Science explores new online educational pedagogies, tools, and learning environments on an ongoing basis. In addition we develop courses that combine the accessibility and reach of online environments with the immediacy of face-to-face learning. For example, with the New York City Department of Education and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, we have begun offering a blended summer course for teachers that connects art, science and inquiry-based learning.

These efforts are designed to ensure that Seminars on Science will continue to provide leadership in online science education through courses that prepare, support, and inspire educators. Since its inception, the program has reached "beyond the walls" to provide nearly five thousand K-12 teachers across the United States and around the world with high-quality online science education and professional development. Thanks to the dedication of its superb instructors and course scientists, Museum and affiliated staff, and a stellar array of partners, Seminars on Science has earned national recognition as a pioneer in this field.

Over the years, in addition to the leadership support provided by The Atlantic Philanthropies, the program has received support from organizations including the Sherman Fairchild Foundation, NASA, NOAA and the Educational Foundation of America.


Seminars on Science is pleased to work with leading schools and institutions. Learn more.

Press + Awards

This program has been recognized as a top provider of online education. Learn more.


Independent evaluators assessed this program over eight years. Learn more.