Did you know the Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo (JMZ) has been serving families in our community for over 80 years? Since 1934, the JMZ has educated children in science and nature through hands-on play and instruction. But the JMZ isn’t just for Palo Alto kids – it serves a wider purpose in early education in our community.


  • Low-income school districts: Through the Science Outreach Program, the Friends of the Junior Museum & Zoo (Friends) raises money every year for JMZ Educators to teach STEM lessons at low-income schools in East Palo Alto and East Menlo Park at no cost to the schools or district. This is the same curriculum provided at a cost to PAUSD students.
  • 1,605 students: The Science Outreach Program reaches 1,605 students served in Ravenswood School District (East Palo Alto), as well as two schools in Mountain View and Sunnyvale.
  • Full Science Curriculum: The Science Outreach Program delivers a comprehensive science curriculum across all elementary grades K-5.
  • Over 18 years: The Friends has been funding 100% of the Science Outreach Program since 1999.


  • We make a difference in the community: We have approximately 150,000 visitors each year. Of those, 80% are repeat visitors, 57% visit at least 4 times per year and 28% of visit at least once a month.
  • We serve the WHOLE community: 45% of our visitors are from low- to moderate- household incomes.
  • We serve families from the mid-Peninsula: 84% of our visitors are from Santa Clara and San Mateo counties.


Stanford University (all Stanford University partners sit on the JMZ Initiative Advisory Council):

  • David Kelley, founder of IDEO, engaged his class from Stanford’s School of Design to develop prototype exhibits for the new JMZ.
  • Hyowon Gweon, PhD, Department of Psychology, operates a Social Learning Lab (link) at the JMZ.  Her team is videotaping children while at play and using interview techniques to gain insight on how children learn.
  • Nicole Ardoin is Assistant Professor at the School of Education and the Woods Institute for the Environment.  She researches the effectiveness of environmental studies and environmental behavior for a young audience taking advantage of the informal learning environment at JMZ.
  • Vera Michalchik, PhD and Senior Associate Director for Learning Sciences & Technology, assists in developing learning experiences for the new JMZ.


  • Google sponsored 18 field trips in 2015-16, allowing all 3rd grade classes in the Ravenswood School District (East Palo Alto) to visit the JMZ as a complement to the science classes taught by JMZ Educators.
  • The JMZ is exploring a mapping exhibit for visitors from 2-10 years of age in partnership with Google Maps and Stanford University.  This partnership is interested in understanding how mapping helps young children learn.
  • Google is using the JMZ as a resource to coordinate development of their STEM Learning Environment associated with NASA at Moffett Field.


  • The JMZ was founded over 80 years ago by Josephine O’Hara, and was first children’s museum west of the Mississippi.
  • The JMZ building is old, too small and run down to serve our JMZ community and the next generation of JMZ users.
  • The Peery Foundation has offered an unprecedented matching gift of $15 million to help replace the current building (the Friends will raise $10 million  for a total $25 million campaign in Phase 1).
  • We have raised over $9MM to reach our goal by January 31, 2017. To see the many local families and foundations who have donated to our exciting project, please visit our supporter list.