Mission & History

At Talcott Mountain Science Center & Academy, our mission is clear and powerful:

Inspiring today’s children to invent tomorrow.

We are passionate about cultivating curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking in young minds, empowering them to become the innovators and problem solvers of the future.

Talcott Mountain Science Center & Academy has been a beacon of excellence in STEM education for nearly 60 years. Its rich history dates back to its inception in 1967. Built on a former Nike missile tracking site with breathtaking views of the city of Hartford, the Farmington Valley and beyond, Talcott swiftly became a well-known educational institution highly regarded for its visionary approach to science education.

The campus itself holds a unique history, as it was acquired for a mere token fee of $1 through a transfer from the Department of Defense to the Department of Education. This transfer was accompanied by a significant commitment, ensuring that the site would not be converted into a commercial, for-profit entity but instead would be dedicated to scientific education and exploration.

The center’s founders, Donald P. La Salle and George Atamian, envisioned a place that would revolutionize science education by focusing on hands-on learning, engaging students, and fostering inquiry, exploration, and discovery. This pioneering approach, now recognized as ‘STEM’ education, was groundbreaking in its time.

With the support of twelve charter districts in the greater Hartford area, Talcott embarked on its mission to provide educational opportunities for students through field trips to the Center and select field sites. Moreover, Talcott science instructors actively engaged with local classrooms, enriching the curriculum with hands-on activities and laboratory experiences.

In 1983, the Talcott Mountain Science Center & Academy took a significant step forward by opening a full-time Academy for gifted students. This institution provided a unique learning environment for talented and motivated young minds, fostering their intellectual development and passion for science.

Throughout its history, Talcott Mountain has been a beacon for knowledge and inspiration, attracting an array of esteemed experts and luminaries in the world of science. It has hosted Nobel Laureates, MacArthur Fellows, and numerous award-winning industry professionals, including 13 astronauts and iconic figures like primatologist Jane Goodall, inventor Paul MacCready, forensic pathologist Henry Lee, oceanographer Sylvia Earle, marine biologist Eugenie Clark, Nobel physicist Sheldon Glashow, genomics researcher Edison Liu, and the first American woman to walk in space, Kathryn Sullivan. These individuals have contributed to the Science Center’s legacy of promoting science education and exploration.