Museum Innovation Fund Announces Spring 2022 Grantees

The Museum Innovation Fund, launched in fall 2021 by the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, provides funding to Drexel faculty and students for projects that promote conception and rapid prototyping of innovative approaches to museum learning and engagement.

Through this initiative, the Academy hopes to establish an open innovation culture — one that promotes prototyping, nurtures fresh thinking, and adopts a creative planning cycle. The Academy will provide seed grants of $5,000 to select projects that imaginatively apply the arts, science and engineering in ways that re-envision museum learning and engagement.

The first round of seed grants supported three interdisciplinary projects submitted by faculty of the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, selected from a pool of outstanding proposals.

In spring 2022, three new project proposals from across the University were selected for seed funding, each aligning with the Academy’s and Drexel’s Water Year. Following 2021’s Climate Year initiatives, Water Year aims to examine water through the context of climate change and drive collective action to protect our watershed.

And the three new project proposals are:

Design Thinking toward the creation of Academy Pop Up Experiences
Employing a user-centered design process, Drexel Product Design faculty and an interdisciplinary group of students will work with high school students and Academy staff to co-create an innovative pop-up lab module for Water Year designed to engage the public in Philadelphia’s diverse neighborhoods. The team will conceptualize a mediated experience grounded in Academy science, local issues and solutions to waterway health. Using a holistic design approach that facilitates experiential learning, the team will design a working prototype aimed to engage publics visually, reflectively, and behaviorally.

Michael Glaser, Associate Professor, Design, Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design

Student-designed Green Water Infrastructure Demonstration
Rising eighth and ninth grade girls, students participating in the EUREKA! program hosted by Girls Inc. of Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey, and Drexel’s Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering will work with Westphal Design faculty and Academy staff to develop a public demonstration of green storm water engineering. The students will learn about innovative approaches to water engineering as well as effective approaches to informal learning while bringing their unique insights and perspectives to a new Academy Water Year offering.

Simi Hoque, Associate Professor, Architectural Engineering Program, College of Engineering
Alissa Sperling, Director of STEM Curriculum, Eureka! Summer Program, College of Engineering

Engineering Solutions to reduce Plastic Pollution in Philadelphia’s Rivers
A class of Drexel engineering students studying the theory behind Systems Engineering methodologies will develop innovative solutions to real-world problems shared by Academy staff. The Academy will work with the class to develop a problem statement related to plastic pollution in Philadelphia’s waterways. The class of 140 students — divided into 30 teams of four — will each research, then iterate a series of prototypes based upon feedback to their designs as they work toward developing innovative solutions and sparking public discussion.

Divya Bhargava, Assistant Teaching Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics, College of Engineering

For more information on the Museum Innovation Fund, or information on the next round of applications, contact


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