On October 3, featured speaker Jon D. Miller gave a presentation entitled “The Challenge of Just-In-Time Science Learning for Museums” at the ASTC Annual Conference. Miller, director of the International Center for the Advancement of Scientific Literacy at Michigan State University, East Lansing, has pioneered the definition and measurement of scientific literacy and has researched this topic in more than 40 countries.
Conference attendees and the ASTC Board and staff were welcomed to Hawaii on the opening day of the 2010 ASTC Annual Conference with a traditional welcome chant and procession.
Charles Nainoa Thompson kicked off the 2010 ASTC Annual Conference on October 2 with an emotional and powerful keynote address in which he spoke not only about navigating using near-lost traditional ways, but also of the teachers that have touched his life and the importance of finding your way in life.
Thompson is chairman of the Polynesian Voyaging Society. He was also the first Haiwaiian in centuries to navigate a voyaging canoe from Hawaii to Tahiti using only traditional wayfinding techniques. In this clip, recorded just after his beautiful talk about loss of roots, anger, racism, the power of great teachers, and education, Thompson talks about what was at the center of his talk for him.
Science centers are ideally positioned to help scientists communicate and engage in dialogue with the public, according to Alan I. Leshner, CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and executive publisher of Science. Leshner presented a special session entitled “Scientists and Science Centers: A Great ‘Glocal’ Partnership Opportunity” at the ASTC Annual Conference on October 2.
Science centers are experts in public engagement and communication, as well as in “glocalization”—taking global issues and making them locally and personally meaningful, Leshner said. They can help scientists communicate their research in understandable and relevant ways and provide a venue for scientist–public interactions. Meanwhile, researchers can enhance science center programs by contributing their expert content knowledge and by giving the public an opportunity to interact with real, live scientists.
Such efforts are important because, as Leshner said, despite high public interest in science, many people are uncertain of its relevance to their everyday lives. In addition, tensions between science and the rest of society can result from conflicts between scientific advances and some religious values (as in the case of embryonic stem cell research) or political or economic issues (as in the case of climate change).
“Scientists are starting to learn that they can’t do public engagement by themselves,” Leshner told the audience of science center professionals. “We need experienced partners, and that means you.”
Photo by Christine Ruffo
On October 2, attendees at the 2010 ASTC Annual Conference learned first-hand today how a discrepant event—any event where the outcome is unexpected—can incite curiosity and an intrisic motivation to explore. In “Wow, I Didn’t Expect That! Powerful Lessons for Teaching Science,” session leaders demonstrated activities where unexpected results can spark questions from visitors and encourage them to further explore and experiment to discover the reasons behind the surprise outcomes.
Keith Ostfield, Children’s Museum of Houston, demonstrates how water does not always leak from a bottle full of holes.