EcoTarium receives national award for school readiness program | EcoTarium

EcoTarium receives national award for school readiness program

Countdown to Kindergarten Celebration will accommodate children and families with special needs
Release Date: 
Monday, May 19, 2014

WORCESTER — Worcester’s EcoTarium was named a 2014 Promising Practice Award Reimagined recipient by the MetLife Foundation and Association of Children’s Museums (ACM) this week. The award supports the museum’s innovative approach in adapting Countdown to Kindergarten (CTK), a one-day celebration for incoming kindergarten students in Worcester Public Schools, to better accommodate families who experience physical or mental disabilities, as well as learning or social difficulties.

The award and accompanying $5,000 grant is a part of the 2014 MetLife Foundation and Association of Children’s Museums Promising Practice Award Reimagined program, which identifies forward-thinking practices at children’s museums. Based on a successful collaborative program pioneered by the Boston Children’s Museum, Countdown to Kindergarten is designed to help families with young children build school readiness skills and learn about community resources.

However, for children and families experiencing mental, physical, learning or social challenges, events such as this can be difficult to attend. Working together with Worcester Public Schools, autism specialists from the University of Massachusetts Medical School and CTK colleagues at Boston Children’s Museum, the EcoTarium is adjusting the CTK model to offer a range of accommodations that will enable more children and their families to successfully begin school with a positive experience. The Countdown to Kindergarten celebration day will be held on August 26 at the EcoTarium, in cooperation with the Worcester Public Schools.

“The EcoTarium is invested in advancing STEM-focused early childhood education for all children and families, through our programming, research and institutional collaborations,” says EcoTarium President Joseph Cox. “As we evolve to meet the changing needs of our audience, we are honored to be recognized by ACM and MetLife as a leader and a model for future practice.”

Cox accepted the award at ACM’s InterActivity conference on May 16th in Phoenix.

About the EcoTarium
EcoTarium is New England's leading science and nature center, an indoor-outdoor experience dedicated to inspiring a passion for science and nature in visitors of all ages. The center includes a museum building with three floors of interactive exhibits and is home to live animal habitats, interpretive nature trails through forest and meadow, the Alden Digital Planetarium, a tree canopy walkway (seasonal) and a narrow-gauge railroad. The EcoTarium, located at 222 Harrington Way in Worcester, Mass., is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sundays 12 to 5 p.m. Admission is $14 for adults, $8 for children 2-18, $10 for seniors 65+ and students with ID. Parking is free. 

About MetLife Foundation
MetLife Foundation was established in 1976 to continue MetLife’s longstanding tradition of corporate contributions and community involvement. Our commitment is to build a secure future for individuals and communities worldwide. Since it was established, MetLife Foundation has provided more than $570 million in grants to nonprofit organizations addressing issues that have a positive impact in their communities. For information, visit

About Association of Children’s Museums
In an increasingly complex world, children’s museums provide a place where all kids can learn through play and exploration with the caring adults in their lives. There are approximately 400 children’s museums around the world, which annually reach more than 31 million visitors. ACM provides leadership, professional development, advocacy and resources for its member organizations and individuals. In addition to the Freeman Foundation Asian Cultural Exhibit Series, other long-term initiatives include Reimagining Children’s Museums, funded by MetLife Foundation, and The Children’s Museum Research Agenda, funded by a National Leadership Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. To learn more about ACM and to find an ACM-member children’s museum near you, visit


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