GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Museum of Natural History has received a $397,143 grant from the Administration for Children, Youth and Families/Head Start Bureau to expand its Marvelous Explorations through Science and Stories program into Marion County.

The Florida Museum will work with Childhood Development Services Inc. of Ocala, Marion County Public Library System, Silver River Museum and Environmental Education Center and Marion County Public Schools on this one-year implementation grant.

The project’s primary goals are to more fully integrate MESS into the Head Start program, further develop teacher training and mentoring and to expand programs aimed at family members, particularly males. The project will evaluate the impact of MESS on the language, emerging-literacy and school-readiness skills and science understanding of children. It also will evaluate the quality and quantity of learning opportunities in Head Start classrooms and family involvement in children’s learning during preschool, kindergarten and first grade. MESS is a science-based literacy curriculum initially developed by the Florida Museum in partnership with the Alachua County Public Schools and the Alachua County Library District.

Florida Museum Center for Informal Science Education Director Betty Dunckel is the principal investigator for MESS, and Shari Ellis is the co-principal investigator and MESS project director. For more information on the project, call (352) 846-2000, ext. 209 or 266.

Media Contact: Paul Ramey, (352) 846-2000,
Writer: Emily Banks