Scientists and Science Centers: A Great “Glocal” Partnership Opportunity

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

By Alan I. Leshner
From ASTC Dimensions
November/December 2010

We in the scientific community, including both scientists and science centers, are living, as Charles Dickens would say, in “the best of times and the worst of times.”

The scientific enterprise has never been more productive, as scientific advances are coming at an almost incredible pace. For their part, science centers have evolved into tremendously important local and national resources through which millions of citizens, young and old, are exposed to cutting-edge science in personally meaningful ways.

Teaching the Language of Science

November 28th, 2010 - Posted in 2010, Dimensions, From the CEO by Anthony (Bud) Rock

“I don’t get it.” This phrase, to students and educators alike, can signal intense frustration, or it can represent the starting gun for an exciting sprint toward new knowledge. Sometimes “I don’t get it” means “I’m not interested”; sometimes, it means “I thought something different”; and sometimes, it simply means, “I can’t conceive of it in the form in which it’s being presented.” In every instance, science centers and the activities that they offer can be instrumental in transforming “I don’t get it” into opportunities for understanding and engagement. (more…)

ASTC members awarded NOAA Environmental Literacy Grants for science education

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

On November 15, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Office of Education announced that it has awarded Environmental Literacy Grants totaling more than $8 million to 17 institutions, including seven ASTC member museums, to engage the public in science education activities that improve understanding and stewardship of the local and global environment.

“NOAA is pleased to be working with such a dedicated and diverse group of science education institutions,” said Jane Lubchenco, under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “Our new investments strongly support NOAA’s efforts to encourage public stewardship activities and informed decision making. We are excited about the opportunity to work more closely with lifelong learners.”

ASTC-member recipients are:

• American Museum of Natural History, New York City: $826,112 for “Exploring Earth Systems: Expanding Data Visualization Experiences for Museum Learners”

• California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco, and Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Colorado, in partnership with the University of Louisville, Kentucky: $1,248,123 for “A collaborative project: The Worldview Network: Ecological Literacy Programming for Digital Planetariums and Beyond”

• Exploratorium, San Francisco: $517,900 for “Embedding NOAA in a Public Learning Laboratory—The Environmental Scientist-In-Residence Program at the Exploratorium”

• Miami Science Center, Florida: $499,559 for “Hurricanes and Climate Change: Local Impacts and Global Systems”

• Science Museum of Minnesota, St. Paul: $500,001 for “Planet Earth Decision Theater”

• Science Museum of Virginia, Richmond: $295,202 for “Science on a Sphere—Earth Systems Display Center at Science Museum of Virginia.”

NOAA’s Environmental Literacy Grants program is a competitive U.S. national grant program focused on creating an environmentally literate public that uses a comprehensive understanding of the role of the ocean, coasts, Great Lakes, weather, and climate in the global ecosystem to make the best social and economic decisions. The program provides funding for an array of educational organizations that reach diverse audiences.

How green does your garden grow?

October 5th, 2010 - Posted in Annual Conference, Featured by Christine Ruffo

Moving from the Convention Center to the Bishop Museum, ASTC Annual Conference attendees had an opportunity to get outdoors and dig in the dirt. Held on October 4, “Involving the Community in Environmental Issues: A Hands-On Garden Workshop” led participants through a garden exploration that demonstrated how gardening outreach programs can help engage underserved local communities in the global conversation on critical environmental issues.

The session began with participants collecting soil samples from around the museum grounds. With help from Peter Van Dyke, manager of the Bishop Museum’s Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden, they then tested the soil’s pH levels, a procedure that can help reveal human-caused environmental impacts, such as acid rain.

Following the activity, presenters from the Communities of Learning for Urban Environments and Science (CLUES) project shared their experiences in developing family gardening programs at their museums. CLUES is a grant-funded collaboration between the New Jersey Academy for Aquatic Sciences (in Camden) and the Franklin Institute, the Philadelphia Zoo, and the Academy of Natural Sciences (all in Philadelphia), which focuses on teaching science to families in communities of the Philadelphia–Camden region. Participants also received an outline of a family outdoor workshop to use at their own science centers.

About the image: A session participant collects soil samples for pH level testing. Photo by Christine Ruffo

Rethinking the role of science centers in society

October 4th, 2010 - Posted in Annual Conference by Wayne MacPhail

After an effort at a public levy to support the institution failed, COSI, Columbus, Ohio, had to reduce its public space, staff, and budget by one-third. But COSI turned disappointment to opportunity, reinventing itself and finding new uses for its spare space.

Kim Kiehl, COSI’s senior vice president and chief operating and strategy officer, talks about how COSI moved from being “nice to necessary,” becoming a place that’s important in students’ lives. This interview took place on October 3, right after Kiehl delivered a talk at the 2010 ASTC Annual Conference in Honolulu.

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