Schooled in Science, Outside of School

  • Education
  • 2016

“People often remember the first teacher to have a profound impact on their lives. For me, that teacher was the Boston Museum of Science,” states philanthropist Michael Bloomberg. “I went every Saturday….Those mornings were the highlight of my weeks….I learned to ask questions, to recognize just how much there is to learn about the world.”

In his autobiography, Bloomberg describes taking a bus and train to attend classes and lectures at the museum, starting when he was ten and continuing through high school. “I sat spellbound as an instructor brought snakes, porcupines and owls for us to hold; demonstrated the basic laws of physics with hands-on experiments; and quizzed us on every museum exhibit.” The museum “changed my life…in ways that traditional school didn’t do,” says Bloomberg—who went on to study engineering at Johns Hopkins University and then founded a company for computerizing financial data that eventually gave him a net worth in the neighborhood of $40 billion.

In 2016, Bloomberg made his fourth, and largest, gift to the museum that had been so important to his boyhood. He donated $50 million to increase the institution’s endowment by nearly 40 percent. The earnings will be used specifically to support education programs, at which the museum excels. The Boston Museum of Science has hosted 11 million school children and 122,000 teachers in the last decade, and produces an engineering curriculum for elementary students that is one of the most used in the country.