Three ASTC-member institutions were among those museums awarded grants as part of the 2011 Museums & Community Collaborations Abroad (MCCA) program by the American Association of Museums (AAM) and the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Recipients of the nine grants included California Science Center in Los Angeles, CA; Maloka in Bogota, Colombia; and Sci-Port: Louisiana’s Science Center in Shreveport, LA. The MCCA initiative pairs museums in the U.S. with museums abroad for a cross-cultural exchange that brings people, especially youth, together to open a dialogue through community projects, partnerships with local or tribal governments and schools, and local events.
“The open dialogue that is established by this museum exchange initiative strengthens people-to-people relationships,” said Ann Stock, assistant secretary of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. “With stronger relationships and greater collaboration, the Museums & Community Collaborations Abroad initiative will achieve shared goals for the benefit of the global community.”
Further details about the 2011 museum-based exchanges can be found after the break.
Rainforest Leadership Academy: Cross-Cultural Teacher Training and Mentoring (California Science Center and Maloka)
To empower teachers with the resources, skills, knowledge, and the confidence to deliver inquiry-based science lessons to their classes, the California Science Center and Maloka will enlist mentor teachers from local public schools to collaboratively develop materials for teacher professional-development trainings and student activities. Teachers will be selected from urban-based school districts in both countries as well as from the Yurok Reservation in the temperate rainforests of Northern California and the Amazon in the tropical rainforest of Southern Colombia. As the mentor teachers train their colleagues to implement the lessons in the classroom, cross-cultural teams of students will communicate via email and Skype to share the information they are learning about the diversity of the rainforests and cultures in their regions.
Not Just Another Building on the Street (Sci-Port: Louisiana’s Science Center and Infini.to, Pino Torinese, Italy)
In 2009, after struggling to attract a teen audience, planetariums in Shreveport, LA and Pino Torinese, Italy, decided to try a different approach. The planetariums empowered gifted high school students in each country to create their own planetarium dome show, and the planetariums benefited from increased audience engagement. As teens developed skills in technology use and project management, friendships were also forged between the two countries. Now, the institutions are reconnecting to engage new audiences of local astronomy teachers in developing a planetarium program that addresses educational needs in their high school classrooms and provides students with formal and informal learning opportunities related to science and culture. The students, who are from a variety of different schools, will once again work together to create a planetarium show that reflects their values, cultures, and priorities.