Science Museum of Virginia Fills Director of Playful Learning and Inquiry Leadership Position
Timshel Purdum from Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University Hired to Lead Museum’s Education Team
With a title like Director of Playful Learning and Inquiry, the Science Museum of Virginia searched nationwide for a candidate who is visionary, collaborative, inquisitive and enjoys making science fun. The Museum found that candidate in Timshel Purdum from the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, adding another female leader to Virginia’s science museum
Purdum joined the Museum’s seven-person leadership team on Sept. 17. She heads the education division, overseeing Museum staff who create interactions and experiences to engage and inspire guests. Purdum is responsible for all aspects of education programming including day-to-day operations, curriculum development, outreach education, program assessment and grant writing, as well as content creation for traveling exhibitions and Museum special events.
“Timshel shares our belief that science museums must find ways to work with their communities to demonstrate how science is relevant in every person’s life,” said Richard Conti, chief wonder officer. “She will help us continue to identify the best pathways to meaningful engagement by connecting people to STEM topics. What impressed us most during the interview process was Timshel’s desire to experiment with new audiences, listen to different perspectives and take risks all with the goal of inspiring the public.”
A Virginia native, Purdum has been in the science education field for more than 20 years. Since August 2003, she has been at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University in Philadelphia. She served in many roles, most recently as the assistant vice president of public experience. Purdum’s additional professional experience includes working as director of education at Riverbend Environmental Education Center in Gladwyne, Pa., and as curator of natural history at the Museum of the Hudson Highlands in Cornwall, N.Y.
She has been a peer reviewer for the Institute of Museum and Library Services, served as vice president of the Museum Council of Philadelphia and was a founding member of the Philadelphia Museum Educator’s Roundtable. Purdum has a Bachelor of Science in biology from the College of William and Mary and a Master of Arts in environmental education from the New Jersey School of Conservation, Montclair State University.
“I’m beyond thrilled to be returning to my home state of Virginia, and to be starting a new journey in science education, a topic important to me as a person and in my career,” Purdum said. “As an informal institution, I love that the Science Museum of Virginia can share not only that science is relevant and affects every aspect of our daily lives, but also the wonder of science. We have the opportunity to bring people in, no matter their age, background or science knowledge, to engage with the rapidly changing world around them in a way that is meaningful to them.”
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