Science Career Ladder


“Participating in the Science Career Ladder enabled me to become a confident leader, a capable learner and an excellent communicator.”

-- Maria Taveras, Senior Explainer, New York Hall of Science, Top of the Ladder Award Winner

Program Type

Informal /Out of School
Work Readiness/Employment
College Readiness

Target Audience

All Students

Black/African American


English Language Learner


New York


Grades 9 - 12

 Accomplished link

Program Overview

The Science Career Ladder (SCL) is the signature youth development program of the New York Hall of Science (NYSCI). The SCL gives high school and college students the opportunity to work as "Explainers." They interpret exhibits, present science demonstrations, and lead participatory workshops for NYSCI's school and family audiences.

The goal of SCL is to promote careers in STEM professions to the young men and women of New York City. The Explainers' backgrounds are as varied as the neighborhoods of Queens and Brooklyn, where most Explainers live. In any given year, a class of Explainers can speak as many as 20 languages. They are the face of NYSCI and the future of science, technology, engineering and math.

The SCL offers:

  • Skills development in inquiry-based teaching and learning methods, fostering peer learning and support, and a life-long curiosity and interest in the sciences.
  • Learning experiences that help build workforce competencies and professional skills, preparing Explainers for a globally competitive workforce.
  • Leadership development through opportunities to help reshape the SCL's content and structure.

The program treats the diversity and broad cultural experiences of the Explainers as an asset that makes science accessible, engaging and interactive to all types of learners from all types of backgrounds. In this way, the SCL affects not only the Explainers, but the other young people they interact with as teachers, peers, neighbors, and role models.


Ellen Wahl, Director of Youth Development and Entrepreneurship
718-699-0005 ext. 345

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Design Principles

The programs in this database clear a high bar. STEMworks reviewed each program against the Design Principles for Effective STEM Philanthropy.

  • Accomplished
  • Developing
  • Undeveloped

Overarching Principles

  • Need

    Identify and target a compelling and well-defined need.

  • Evaluation

    Use rigorous evaluation to continuously measure and inform progress towards the compelling need identified.

  • Sustainability

    Ensure work is sustainable.

  • Replication and Scalability

    Demonstrate replicability and scalability.

  • Partnerships

    Create high impact partnerships

  • Capacity

    Ensure organizational capacity to achieve goals.

STEM Principles

  • Challenging and Relevant Content

    Offer challenging and relevant STEM content for the target audience

  • STEM Practices

    Incorporate and encourage STEM practices.

  • Inspiration

    Inspire interest and engagement in STEM.

  • Under-Represented Groups

    Identify and address the needs of under-represented groups.