The Miami Science Barge: Floating the Future

By William Evans

The Miami Science Barge is a self-sustaining floating laboratory, and innovation test bed, and environmental education center that provides an urban link to marine conservation and sustainability on Miami’s Biscayne Bay. The 120’x30’ steel barge will be equipped to enhance and stimulate the use of STEM education across all ages and will focus on the following three categories: marine experiments, living systems, and sustainable technology. The program’s mission is to create a society of optimistic problem solvers through marine science.

Miami Science Barge from Museum Park closeThe Lead Team includes Dr. Ted Caplow, CappSci CEO and engineer of the New York Science Barge that launched in 2007 and is still functioning today. He founded the science education company, New York Sun Works , and the urban farming enterprise, BrightFarms . The project is lead by Nathalie ManzanoSmith, Director of Innovation, who is responsible for program management, budget oversight, activity evaluation, and management of the Science Barge Team. Also on the team are Alissa Farina, Outreach Coordinator, and Chad Teal, Living Systems Manager. Karlisa Callwood from the Frost Museum of Science will create curriculum for the program.

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The Miami Science Barge partners with a diverse group of organizations in the Miami area that support this project. These partners include CappSci, Knight Foundation, Allen Family Foundation, Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science, Bayfront Park Management Trust, University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Atmospheric Science, Miami Northwestern Senior High School, Florida International University’s The Education Effect, Urban GreenWorks, Health in the Hood, and Miami Waterkeeper. Most recently, the Miami Science Barge project secured the unanimous support of the Bayfront Park Management Trust Board and has been approved to take residence in Museum Park when the program launches. This project would not be made possible without these partnerships and they will only strengthen as time progresses.

Although the Miami Science Barge has not yet arrived in the location in Museum Park, the Barge has already began making an impact on Miami. As winner of the inaugural Knight Foundation Knight Cities Challenge, the Miami Science Barge was awarded a generous grant to help launch the program.

Additionally, the Barge has provided internships for high school, undergraduate, and graduate students whose interests vary from vocational work to environmental science, education to public works. The Barge will provide unique opportunities to students that will be useful for their intended career fields and will help them develop professional skills before entering the workforce. The Miami Science Barge team also attends local workshops and summits to increase community involvement with other environmental and educational organizations and to develop collaborations that will be mutually beneficial.

The Barge is expected to launch in 2016 in their location in Museum Park. For more information about the Miami Science Barge, please visit their website at www.miamisciencebarge.org, like their Facebook , and follow them on Instagram and Twitter at @MIASciBarge.

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