Charlie Trautmann

Membership:  2017

Member Bio

Charlie received his undergraduate degree in geophysics from Amherst College, master’s degrees in geology and geotechnical engineering from Stanford, and a PhD in civil and environmental engineering from Cornell. He has been on the engineering faculty of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York since 1983. In 1990, he became the first director of the Sciencenter, an independent, hands-on science museum in Ithaca, where he organized the construction of the museum with 4,000 volunteers and grew the staff to 30 and attendance to 100,000 guests per year.
Charlie’s primary focus at RCC is on how to get very young children curious about their world and how to encourage them to develop good learning habits early on that will last a lifetime, particularly those related to the environment and attachment to nature. His project involves studying how the experiences of preschool children (ages 0–5) with nature affect them as adults in terms of interest, behavior, and advocacy related to the environment.


  • “Building Communities through Science.” Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the South African Association of Science and Technology Centers, 2015.
  • “Organizational Stability Facilitates Succession—and Attracts Candidates.” Hand to Hand (Association of Children’s Museums) 29, no. 3 (2015): 9–16.
  • “Trends to Watch in Science Education.” Informal Learning Review, no. 136 (2016): 17–21.
  • “The Business of Science Centers.” Dimensions (Association of Science-Technology Centers), 2017.
  • “The Discovery Trail: A Model Museum-Library Partnership.” Informal Learning Review (in press).