Friends Raises $300,000 for California Dinosaur Garden

July 5, 2022

Hello Friends,

I am delighted to share that thanks to the generous support of our donor community and our board, we have reached our fundraising goal of $300,000 for the California Dinosaur Garden, a new exhibit scheduled to open in 2023. Funds raised through this latest capital campaign will supplement a grant awarded to the JMZ by the Institute of Museum and Library Services to make this incredible exhibit a reality. You can read more about the California Dinosaur Garden in our June 7, 2022 newsletter. Thank you again to everyone that contributed! 

In this newsletter, we profile a wonderful JMZ program, Science with a Twist, which provides after-school science lessons to elementary-school children. Thanks to a generous sponsorship by the Palo Alto Rotary Club, the after-school program was offered for free to 1st and 2nd grade students at the Boys & Girls Club of the Peninsula (BGCP) in East Palo Alto. Given the success of the Science with a Twist “pilot” with BCGP, the Friends of the Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo is committed to continuing the program in East Palo Alto. Interested sponsors can learn more on our Corporate Sponsorship page. 

Finally, the Friends of the Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo now has dedicated social channels to help you stay up to date on our news and events! Please follow us on Instagram at @friendsjmz and via our page on Facebook


Lauren Angelo

President, Friends of the Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo 

Program Spotlight: Science with a Twist at the Boys and Girls Club of the Peninsula

Interview with Alex Hamilton, JMZ Director of Education


Tell us about Science with a Twist.


Science with a Twist is an after-school program that provides children with opportunities to explore science in a more relaxed and fun environment than in-class school lessons (which have specific learning goals tied to California State Content Standards). It was launched about 15 years ago to provide Palo Alto school children with educational and fun science learning opportunities after school and to provide parents with childcare options. The program is best suited for students in the 1st – 3rd grades, which makes up the majority of our students most of the year. At the program sponsored for the Boys and Girls Club of the Peninsula this winter and spring, we worked with students in 1st and 2nd grades.

Why did you team up with the Boys and Girls Club of the Peninsula on this program?

We have brought after-school programming to the Boys and Girls Club of the Peninsula (BGCP) several different times over the past 12 years. When one of our Friends’ Board Members, who also has close ties to the organization, presented the opportunity to bring science to BGCP students again, it was an easy “yes!” Another Friends’ Board Member connected us with the Rotary Club of Palo Alto, which generously sponsored Science with a Twist as a pilot program for BGCP students. Providing science learning to BGCP students is integral to our mission of engaging a child’s curiosity in science and nature, and staff and students at BGCP have always been wonderful to work with.

JMZ Director of Education, Alex Hamilton, showcases a scorpion to a group of BCGP learners.

What do children learn through the program?

Children learn about a wide range of topics, such as Locomotion, Illusions & Special Effects and the Science of Toys in year one; Amusement Park Physics, Electricity & Magnetism and Wonders of the Human in year two; and Amazing Architects, Geology and Dinosaurs and Energy Explorations in year three. These are just a few examples of topics; it is a very robust program! 


Some lessons touch on concepts children may have been exposed to in school, but this program gives them the freedom to dive in a little deeper to certain aspects of a topic that particularly interest them. For example, during our Castles and Catapults program in year two, we sometimes have kids who want to get lost in the physics of building the best catapult and testing its launching power, so we let them take an extra day to perfect and test their structure. Others—the kids who are obsessed with castles, castle lore, knights and kings, and stories of the Round Table—want to create the best mini castle and include all of the necessary rooms and components. So, we let them spend an extra day perfecting their medieval structures. Kids get to move at their own pace (within reason), and it’s a great mechanism for keeping all students engaged with low levels of frustration.


This Spring, we planned to provide BGCP students with Illusions & Special Effects, the Science of Toys and Slime, Ooze and Mysterious Concoctions, but we soon realized that the kids really wanted animal programs. We pivoted to start with four lessons learning about our vertebrate and invertebrate Zoo residents, and added an additional two lessons that involved the students making enrichment toys for the animals. They really enjoyed that.

Friends of the Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo

info@friendsjmz.org | www.friendsjmz.org


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