Adventure Science Center’s Youth CR3W:
More Than Just an After-School Program

Now accepting applications for Fall 2014

Click here to apply!

When the Adventure Science Center decided to revive a decades-old youth development program, nobody had any idea how big an impact it would have on everyone involved.

“The Youth CR3W is quickly becoming woven into the fabric of our culture here,” says John Hawkins, Youth CR3W program manager. (Pronounced “crew,” the “3” in CR3W represents three E’s: engage, explore, and explain.)

Youth CR3W participants’ primary responsibilities include interpreting exhibits for guests and facilitating public events. Students apply as high school freshmen, committing to the program for four years.

As students progress through the program, their responsibilities grow and change.

While the first year focuses on basic skills, later on participants plan, develop and lead activities for the Science Center’s popular monthly public events. There’s even a plan to launch a podcast directed and produced by Youth CR3W members.

“Students engage guests while explaining exhibits, and they also explore their own career interests,” says Hawkins.

More than just another extracurricular, however, Youth CR3W is a program that prepares Nashville teens for college and the working world. It also helps visitors connect with Adventure Science Center exhibits and programs, providing real benefits to the museum and the community as a whole.

Preparation for the Real World

Members of Youth CR3W get some serious rewards in exchange for their hard work. The biggest payback students see? It’s the opportunity to hone their communication skills in a professional yet easygoing environment. Participants build confidence by easing into public speaking and leadership roles, while also gaining real-world business skills and etiquette training.

Students come once each week after school, usually for two to three hours, in order to fulfill their commitment of 150-250 hours each year.

“The purpose is to establish a work schedule and stick to it,” says Hawkins. He adds, “It’s less about the number of hours and more about the personal responsibility of coming in and doing it.”

In addition to helping students develop a solid work ethic, Youth CR3W also prepares them for college. Benefits include access to help with college and scholarship applications, plus the chance to tour local colleges to learn about campus life and the admissions process.

Finally, the Youth CR3W program gives teens a place where they belong.

“When we were interviewing students, we found many were looking for ways to stay involved, stay busy, and do something positive,” says Hawkins.

Meaningful Impacts

Perhaps the most innovative aspect of Youth CR3W is that it lets students explore their own evolving career interests in a way that has a positive community impact.  Hawkins points specifically to the upcoming podcast project, which will allow the Youth CR3W to share knowledge with other students.

“If they’ve always wanted to be an architect, this is their opportunity to find one and ask them all of their questions. Because there are probably others out there who have similar interests, but don’t have the opportunity to ask those questions directly.”

Of course, it’s not only other students who benefit from the program. Youth CR3W also helps broaden the Adventure Science Center’s appeal, showing that all ages can learn something there.

“The common perception is that we are a children’s museum, when in fact we have opportunities for people of all ages,” says Hawkins. “We even have adult nights when no kids are allowed.”

The Science Center has also benefitted from the Youth CR3W in terms of visitor experience.

“Having students on the floor helping guests, explaining exhibits and answering questions helps us excel in guest service. It makes for a better experience for all guests,” says Hawkins.

Beyond simply answering questions, it’s Youth CR3W’s sheer enthusiasm for Science Center exhibits and activities that makes an impression on guests.

“The CR3W is very excited when they talk to guests. That excitement resonates with families, who enjoy seeing high school students so interested and involved in what they’re doing.”

All told, the program has a real and lasting impact on the lives of students, while also enriching the guest experience at the Science Center.

For more information, visit or email

Youth CR3W Goals

For participants:

  • Enhance attitude, skills, knowledge and appreciation for STEM class work and careers
  • Increase interest in learning, understanding of specific concepts and inquiry skills
  • Develop and refine social skills and valuable life skills
  • Develop communication skills that boost self-image and the confidence needed to converse and interact with museum visitors
  • Explore careers in STEM fields
  • Acquire transferable workplace skills and real-world employment experience through meaningful, purposeful work.

For Adventure Science Center:

  • Increase educational value to schools and the community
  • Provide staff the opportunity to serve as a mentors and caring adults to underserved children
  • Add vitality to the visitor experience with an enthusiastic  and professional on-floor youth presence
  • Inform exhibit and program development for the teen audience
  • Broaden the Science Center’s audience


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