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The Museum Experience


The Franklin Institute SLA's founding partner, is more than just a resource; it's an extension of the school, and central to the lives of our students. While many schools have partnerships with local organizations, few are as close or deep as SLA's partnership with The Franklin. This relationship builds on the school's existing curriculum and provides the SLA community with all the resources of world famous museum and science center. Through the Wednesdays @ The Franklin program, memberships, ILP internships, special visitors, collaborative events, volunteer opportunities, capstone projects,graduation, and the FIBOT Scholarship, The Franklin Institute leaves an indelible mark on every student during his or her time at SLA.

Wednesdays @ The Franklin

Wednesdays @ The Franklin is the signature program of the SLA-TFI partnership. Every Wednesday, SLA's 9th grade walks to The Franklin Institute, three blocks away, to engage in informal science learning. Their afternoon consists of visiting exhibits like Body Worlds or Design Zone, watching IMAX films like Coral Reef or Flying Monsters, and participating in "Mini-Courses." Mini-Courses are short, one-to-two month long, once-a-week courses in a variety of topics from medicine and immunology to engineering and astronomy to computer programming and product design. Students choose which course they would like to take out of up to 8 different options. Mini-Courses are typically linked to exhibits and other resources in the museum, which serve as a pedagogical tool to enhance the students' level of understanding. These courses, in combination with the other Wednesdays @ The Franklin curricula, lay the foundation for an engaged and exciting 4 years at SLA.

Recycling Bins for TFI
Stephon 1


Every student (and staff member) at SLA is provided with a year-round family membership to The Franklin Institute. This means free access to all permanent exhibits, the Sky Bike, and the planetarium, and reduced prices on IMAX and 3D films and travelling exhibits. These and other exclusive offers can be used 7 days a week all year long.


ILP Internships

Many SLA families take advantage of their memberships in the evening or on the weekend.

As sophomores and juniors disperse into the city to work as interns in the Individualized Learning Program, many of them choose to fulfill their requirement at The Franklin Institute. Interns have the opportunity to work with Dr. Derrick Pitts, The Franklin Institute's Chief Astronomer, or they can assist the Vice President of Operations, learning the best practices of non-profit management. Still others work in exhibit design and assessment, graphic design, communications, marketing, and research.

Distinguished Visitors

Through The Franklin Institute, SLA students get to meet some of those people who have had the biggest influence on the world today.  On a regular basis, these Franklin Institute guests pay SLA a visit to talk with our students. Examples of visitors include: President Barack Obama, Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft; Waleed Abdalati, NASA's Chief Scientist; and Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway.

Obama at TFI

President Barack Obama congratulated SLA's 2012 graduates at The Franklin Institute.

Bill Gates Visit

Bill Gates, founder and Chairman of Microsoft, visited SLA after receiving the Franklin Institute's Bower Award in 2010.

Waleed Abdalati Talk

Waleed Abdalati, NASA's Chief Scientist, presented to SLA students after his visit to The Franklin Institute in 2011.

Capstone Projects

Seniors may choose to complete their capstone projects under the guidance of The Franklin Institute.  In the past, there have been capstone mentors at nearly all levels of the Museum providing wisdom, funding, and other resources.


Just as the Science Leadership Academy started with The Franklin Institute, SLA's seniors finish with it. Every year our graduation ceremony takes place in Franklin Hall, the only National Memorial outside of Washington, DC.


SLA's first graduating class on the steps of The Franklin Institute

​FIBOT Scholarship

The Franklin Institute Board of Trustees (FIBOT) generously gives at least $60,000 to SLA seniors every year as they graduate to attend colleges and universities around the country. This makes up 6 or more scholarships of $10,000 each toward their college tuition. The students selected each year are some of SLA's finest, who intend to pursue a major in a STEM field (i.e. Science, Technology, Engineering, or Math).


Luke Van Meter is the Franklin Institute - Science Leadership Academy Liaison. Previously the Individualized Learning Coordinator at SLA, Luke plans and oversees every aspect of the Museum Experience, including all of the programs listed above.

If you have any questions or would like to get involved, you can reach Luke at:

Email: or
Office: 215-448-1342
Cell: 609-744-6701