Franklin Institute honored at White House ceremony

October 8th, 2008 - Posted in Featured, Member News by Christine Ruffo

(left to right) First Lady Laura Bush, Albert J. Hicks, III, Franklin Institute director Dennis Wint, and IMLS director Anne Radice The Franklin Institute, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was honored yesterday at a White House ceremony as a 2008 National Medal for Museum and Library Service recipient. The award is given annually by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), in coordination with the White House, to 10 museums and libraries in recognition of their extraordinary civic, educational, economic, environmental, and social contributions. IMLS is the primary source of U.S. federal funding for museums and libraries. U.S. Representative Chaka Fattah of Pennsylvania’s 2nd Congressional District congratulated the museum, saying, “The Franklin is the cherished destination and learning experience for every boy, girl, and parent in our region, usually more than once…and I look forward to my family’s next visit.”

Dr. Albert Hicks III’s (shown here with First Lady Laura Bush, Albert J. Hicks, III, Franklin Institute director Dennis Wint, and IMLS director Anne Radice ) passion for science was ignited at age 13 when his uncle encouraged him to join the Franklin Institute’s Partnerships for Careers in Technology and Science (PACTS) program. Hicks participated in science workshops, on topics such as biological science and chemical engineering, then in high school continued to participate in the program as an explainer. In college, he was in charge of the Franklin’s explainers and summer programs, creating daily agendas and supervising biological research on a local lake in Fairmount Park. Now in residency at Drexel’s College of Medicine, he credits the Franklin Institute’s PACTS program with giving him skills he needs as a physician. “The program developed my confidence in public speaking, improved my interpersonal skills, and enriched my love of science,” Hicks says.

About the image: (left to right) First Lady Laura Bush, Albert J. Hicks, III, Franklin Institute director Dennis Wint, and IMLS director Anne Radice

Photo courtesy IMLS

In memoriam: Joel N. Bloom, ASTC founder

October 3rd, 2008 - Posted in ASTC News, Featured by Emily Schuster

Joel N. BloomWith great sadness, we report that Joel N. Bloom, a founder of ASTC and its first board chairman, died on September 23 after a long illness. He was 83.

Joel played a pivotal role in ASTC not only as a founder, but also as a passionate champion of science centers among national leaders and within the museum world. When he received the ASTC Fellow Award for Outstanding Contribution in 1988, we recognized “his sage leadership and distinguished service to the science museum community,” saying, “His unique contributions as a persuasive advocate and valued mentor have significantly advanced the science museum profession and the Association. We salute his dedication, his vision, and his chutzpah.”

Joel was director and president of the Science Museum and Fels Planetarium of the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia from 1969 until he retired in 1990. He was also the first science museum president to serve as president of the American Association of Museums (1988–92).

Many remember Joel as an inspirational mentor who was particularly supportive of women. He influenced many people who went on to become innovators in the museum field. “Joel was a mentor of mentors,” said museum consultant Alan J. Friedman. “I have no doubt several generations of museum leaders are guided by Joel’s wisdom, whether they know it or not.”

California Academy of Sciences opens green building

September 26th, 2008 - Posted in Featured, Member News by Christine Ruffo

California Academy of SciencesTwo years after breaking ground, the new California Academy of Sciences opens its new green building’s doors to the public on September 27.

The building, designed by architect Renzo Piano, features a 197,000-square-foot green roof that dips and slopes, mirroring its surroundings in Golden Gate Park. After experimenting with 30 native species, nine species were chosen to flourish in the park’s climate—these will thrive with little water, resist the salt spray from ocean air, and tolerate wind. The roof will provide habitat for a wide variety of wildlife. A future project will seek to introduce the endangered San Bruno elfin butterfly and the Bay checkerspot butterfly to this new habitat. An open-air observation terrace enables visitors to get a close-up look at the roof’s canopy of plants.

The new building houses an aquarium, planetarium, natural history museum and a 4-story rainforest, as well as the Academy science labs and offices, including a scientific archive consisting of more than 20 million specimens.

Photo courtesy California Academy of Sciences

‘A Powerful Force for Good’: Science Centers and Social Issues

September 12th, 2008 - Posted in 2008, Dimensions by Christine Ruffo

September/October 2008

In April, ASTC committed to a new strategic direction, recognizing the responsibility of science centers to address critical societal issues locally and globally. The Toronto Declaration, presented at the Fifth Science Centre World Congress in June, underscored ASTC’s new focus, proclaiming that science centers can be “a powerful force for good.” By promoting dialogue on issues like climate change and human health, science centers can help forge the way toward a better future.

The Road Ahead: ASTC’s New Strategic Direction, by Lesley Lewis
• The Toronto Declaration
• Leading for Impact, by Lynn Luckow
• RACE: Fostering Community Conversations for Social Change, by Robert Garfinkle, with Science Centers and Social Change: Questions to Consider
• Still in Search of Relevance, by Emlyn Koster
• Building the Future: Science Centers and the Net Generation, by Jennifer Corriero
• Bringing the Public’s Voices to the Forefront, by Luigi Amodio
• Engaging Leaders and Citizens in Science, by Nohora Elizabeth Hoyos and Sigrid Falla
• ASTC’s IGLO Initiative: An Interim Review, by Colin Johnson
• The Albedo Experiment: They Came, They Saw, They Reflected, by Lynn Lim
• Spot On: The Albedo Experiment in Italy, by Lavinia Del Longo
• The Decide Game: An Indian Experience, by Emdadul Islam
• Resources for Addressing Social Issues

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The Road Ahead: ASTC’s New Strategic Direction

September 12th, 2008 - Posted in 2008, Dimensions by Christine Ruffo

By Lesley Lewis
From ASTC Dimensions
September/October 2008

In April, representatives of the ASTC Board, Committee Chairs, and Governing Members met in Birmingham, Alabama, to review the organization’s purpose and strategic directions. As a group, we were truly representative of ASTC members, with both small and large institutions at the table. We all left enthusiastic about the new strategies that emerged, and with a renewed sense of conviction about the powerful role science centers can play in a rapidly changing world.

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