Natural History Museum to host educational ‘battle’ for city school kids at Citi Field

Jacqueline Faherty, an astronomer in the American Museum of Natural History Department of Astrophysics, will represent Team Space in an epic
Jacqueline Faherty, an astronomer in the American Museum of Natural History Department of Astrophysics, will represent Team Space in an epic “battle” against Team Sea at Citi Field on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Spencer Platt

This throwdown is so big only a baseball stadium can contain it.

Two scientists from the American Museum of Natural History will square off at Citi Field on Wednesday, and battle over which is mightier and more awesome — the wonders of the ocean or the vastness of space.

Thousands of New York City school kids will fill the stadium to help make the final call.

“We have never tried this before,” said Jacqueline Faherty, an astrophysicist and senior scientist at the museum. “We could have done something simple, but being that we are such a creative museum, we chose to get a little bit extravagant.”

Faherty, of Team Space, will face off against Mandë Holford, a chemical marine biologist, of Team Sea. The two have worked together on educational programs for the museum in the past.

“We’re best friends, but we’re also competitive and we each want to win,” said Faherty. “We’re going to make a good show.”

The 40-minute interactive program includes the scientists fielding a series of questions about size, scale, technology and discovery in space and in the sea. The jumbotron will feature members of the Mets reading some of the questions.

Teachers from two schools will compete to see how long it takes them to hop into a mock spacesuit or wet suit, and students will go onto the field to help demonstrate the enormous size of a whale.

After a final, 90-second summary from Holford and Faherty, kids in the stands will vote for sea or space by holding up colored paddles.

The museum hosted a sea vs. space throwdown at the museum last year, but this is the first time they are trying it outside the museum and targeted to schoolkids.

“We want to motivate them and get them excited,” said Faherty. “We are bringing the sports culture of the city and merging it with science.”

Faherty also pointed out the importance of showing kids the diverse faces of scientists (often portrayed as older white men in white lab coats). Holford is African-American, and Faherty’s mother is from Puerto Rico.

“This is the next generation of scientists that young women and men and everybody should see,” Faherty said.

Once the throwdown is settled, students can watch the Amazins take on the Toronto Blue Jays for a 1:10 p.m. game. They can also check out a life-size model of a Tyrannosaurus rex skull, marine specimens, meteorites and rocks at a display set up by the museum.

Mets spokesman Harold Kaufman said the team has hosted other education-themed days focused on the weather and college prep.

“It’s an opportunity to mix baseball with learning,” he said.