MadaTech aids those affected by fire near Haifa

December 22nd, 2010 - Posted in Featured, Member News by Emily Schuster

MadaTech staff with evacuated kids

ASTC-member MadaTech—Israel National Museum of Science, Technology, and Space, located in Haifa, is working to help those affected by the fire that broke out in the nearby Carmel Forest on December 2. The fire raged for four days, killing more than 40 people, displacing 17,000 residents, and destroying 10,000 acres of forest.

Ronen Mir, MadaTech’s general director and CEO, writes, “MadaTech opened our doors free to families who were evacuated, and we sent our science vans to places where the evacuated were housed to entertain the kids. We also held a two-day camp for 120 kids of the police force.”

Several MadaTech employees and Board members were evacuated from their homes, but none lost their property in the fire.

Mir notes, “We are now operating as usual, though the green Carmel mountains around us are black.”

About the image: MadaTech staff members perform a demonstration for children who were evacuated from their homes due to the fire in the Carmel Forest. Photo courtesy MadaTech

Explora awarded National Medal in White House Ceremony

December 18th, 2010 - Posted in Featured, Member News by Christine Ruffo

Explora receives National MedalExplora Science Center and Children’s Museum, Albuquerque, New Mexico, was presented with a 2010 National Medal for Museum and Library Service by U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama at a White House ceremony. The award is given annually by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to 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.

The ceremony highlighted how the awardees’ programs have benefited individual community members. By partnering with Explora, Sara Keeney has discovered new passion and possibilities for education. As principal for the past 10 years of Los Padillas Elementary School—located in a semi-rural area where families struggle—Sara has found fresh approaches for engaging teachers, students, and their parents by working through inquiry-based programs at Explora. Teachers comment that Explora’s unique professional development opportunities have changed their classroom methods and activities. Families rave about Explora Family Science Night, the school’s best-attended family event. Watching families interact in thought-provoking experiments is deeply meaningful to Sara, who knows these activities will ripple throughout the child’s life in family conversations, learning potential and career choices. Most of Sara’s work has been in minority and high poverty schools like Los Padillas where 60 percent of the students are English language learners, and the school qualifies for 100 percent free lunches. According to Sara, “Our families are engaged in survival, but Explora helped us reach out to them in ways we hadn’t thought of.”

In addition to the National Medal, each awardee institution receives $10,000 and visit from StoryCorps, an independent, nonprofit, oral history project that records conversations with community members that can be shared through a free CD and are preserved at the Library of Congress.

About the image: Community member Sara Keeney and Explora director Patrick Lopez accept the National Medal from U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama. Photo courtesy IMLS

Youth Inspired Challenge web site launches

December 15th, 2010 - Posted in ASTC News, Featured by Laura Huerta Migus

YIC website screen shot ASTC is pleased to announce the launch of the Youth Inspired Challenge website,  The site is dedicated to documenting the valuable programs offered by ASTC member institutions around the world that engage youth in hands-on STEM learning and nurture tomorrow’s STEM leaders.  Visitors will find general information about the Challenge, a directory of participating institutions and descriptions of their programs, and a showcase section highlighting the innovative practices and impact of individual programs.  The site also contains information and template marketing materials for participating institutions to support their programs and the Challenge in their own communities.

ASTC member institutions offering youth programs, especially those that focus on youth development and serve youth from underrepresented backgrounds, can still register for the Challenge.  Maximum ASTC member participation is necessary to meet the goal of the Challenge—to involve youth in 2 million hours of science enrichment programming at science centers and museums over the next three years.  Benefits of participation include:

• Increased visibility of your youth programs through inclusion on the Youth Inspired Challenge web site
• Free Youth Inspired Challenge–branded marketing and promotional materials to facilitate local fundraising
• Access to a community of practice around youth programming and youth development in science centers and museums
• Increased exposure to legislators and policymakers through ASTC’s advocacy efforts.

There is no cost to participate in the Challenge. Participating institutions are required to provide ASTC with data on their programs (student enrollment, number of contact hours, etc.) over the course of the challenge to measure progress toward the goal of two million hours of science enrichment.

Please direct all questions about the Youth Inspired Challenge to Laura Huerta Migus, ASTC’s director of equity and diversity at 202/783-7200 x139.

ASTC to host COP16 event

November 30th, 2010 - Posted in ASTC News, Featured by Kate Crawford

Last year, ASTC joined nearly 1,000 other NGOs, participating in the UN Climate Change Conference (COP15) as an official observer organization. We brought together students from Denmark, France, and the US to share their experiences playing the Cap-Sciences, Bordeaux, France game Clim’Way with a panel of experts that including Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

November 29, 2010 saw the beginning of COP16, this year’s United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Cancun, Mexico, and in collaboration with scientists from both NASA and NOAA, ASTC is taking the opportunity to highlight the work being done to address air pollution in major cities and to examine the relationship between this issue and climate change. We will be joined from the meeting in Cancun by Hanwant B. Singh from the NASA Ames Research Center and A. R. Ravishankara from NOAA’s Earth System Laboratory Chemical Sciences Division. These scientists will share their work as part of air pollution campaigns in Mexico City and Los Angeles. After the presentations, staff from California Science Center, Los Angeles; MIDE, Museo Interactivo de Economía, Mexico City; and Pavilion of Knowledge—Ciência Viva, Lisbon, Portugal, will discuss how they’re addressing air pollution and climate change locally.

Please join us via Webcast for the event starting at 11:00AM EST on Friday, December 3. If you have questions you’d like to share with the presenters, please email Kate Crawford at

Face to Face: Connecting Scientists with the Public

November 29th, 2010 - Posted in 2010, Dimensions by Katie McCarthy

November/December 2010

With their firm grounding in science and expertise in public engagement, science centers and museums are in a unique position to help scientists communicate effectively with the public. In this issue, we share stories of how science centers are bringing scientists and the public together to facilitate dialogue and enhance understanding.

This issue also contains a special supplement on the new ASTC-led Youth Inspired Challenge. This major initiative challenges ASTC members to engage young people in a total of 2 million hours of STEM-centered youth development programming over a three-year period.

Scientists and Science Centers: A Great “Glocal” Partnership Opportunity, by Alan I. Leshner
• Shared Experiences: Connecting Scientists and Visitors Through Portal to the Public, by Kristin Leigh and Lauren Russell
• Science in the City: Getting Scientists and Citizens Together, by Pino Zappalà
• Person-to-Person Interactions at Miraikan, by Mamoru Mohri
• Showcasing Current Science at the Utah Museum of Natural History, by Sarah B. George
• A Scientist Walks into a Bar, by Amanda Thomas
• A Tasty Concoction: Café Scientifique in Toronto, by Donna Francis
• Coffee and Cinema: Encounters with Jerusalem Scientists, by Varda Gur Ben Shitrit
• Helping Young Scientists Learn and Practice Public Engagement, by Lynn Uyen Tran and Catherine Halversen

Download the full issue.

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