FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – The Fort Worth Museum of Science and History is still operating with limited hours because of COVID-19, but that isn’t slowing them down from inspiring young minds through a new program called ‘Little Scholars.’

The program was created to help Fort Worth families balance the demands related to their children’s virtual learning curriculum by turning the museum into a classroom. Amber Shive, the Director of Education at the museum says it was a way for the museum to serve the community during this difficult and unprecedented time.

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“So what we are able to do is support students with their virtual learning,” Shive explains.

“We have bilingual educators, and all of our facilitators are certified teachers. The assistants are then there to help (the students) with virtual learning.”

The Little Scholars program is for students in the first through fifth grade. The program meets Monday through Friday from 7:50 AM to 2:50 PM. Each student receives breakfast, lunch and a snack throughout the day and transportation to and from class is available for any student who needs it.

When students arrive each day, they each go through a health screening and temperature check. Students are divided into learning pods by grade level where each pod has no more than 10 students.

The museum says their smaller class sizes and detailed health screenings have allowed Little Scholars to be a good option for parents who are not comfortable sending their children to in-person classes in a traditional school setting, but still want their children getting a hands-on education.

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In between virtual lessons from the students’ respective schools, the museum adds to the students’ learning with hands-on STEM experiments, live animal chats, planetarium visits, virtual reality, and science experiments.

“The thing I have seen that I’ve been most proud of is the confidence these students have now that they are reengaged with the classroom, completing their work and understanding things,” Shive says.

“Plus, they are able to expand on the lessons that aren’t just on the screen, but that they are able to do hands on here at the museum.”

Currently, the program has 70 spots open to students and some scholarships are available.

The museum says the current program will run through December and then they will reevaluate whether the program is needed at the first of the year. If COVID-19 is still prevalent, and virtual learning help is still needed, the museum says they hope to continue providing the service to the community.

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Madison Sawyer