How much is too much technology in a science center or museum, or is the sky the limit? Does it engage or distract?

December 19th, 2013 - Posted in 2014, Dimensions, Viewpoints by Emily Schuster

This is an extended discussion of the question that appeared in the Viewpoints department of the January/February 2014 issue of Dimensions magazine.

Good examples of technology gone bad can often be traced to poor design. Does the design of an interactive cause visitors to isolate from others, or does it support social engagement? Does the design of a mobile app focus visitors’ attention away from an exhibit, or does it deepen the awesome moment of that particular time and place? We can never escape the potential for digital media to engage or distract. That struggle is unavoidable, especially when visitors can carry in their own devices. But we can support visitors to develop an intentionality in their use of technology and support them to mediate their visit in ways that connect them with the exhibits and the social and physical spaces around them.

Barry Joseph, associate director for digital learning, American Museum of Natural History, New York City


Q&A with the 2013 McGrath Fellows

December 19th, 2013 - Posted in 2014, Dimensions, Q&A by Emily Schuster

 Interviewed by Emily Schuster

This interview appeared in the January/February 2014 issue of Dimensions magazine.

Last October, a museum director from Brazil, a museum educator from Uruguay, a science teacher from Zimbabwe, and a deputy general director of a brand new science park in Israel joined nearly 1,700 attendees from 43 countries at the 2013 ASTC Annual Conference in Albuquerque. These four professionals were the recipients of the Lee Kimche McGrath Worldwide Fellowship, thanks to significant financial support from the Gelfand family.

Named for ASTC’s first executive director, the Fellowship helps individuals from science centers and museums outside the United States attend the ASTC Annual Conference, in the hope that this experience will help them in the development of their institutions and the growth of the field worldwide. This year’s Fellows—Diego Vaz Bevilaqua, director of Museu da Vida/Fiocruz, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Fiorella Silveira Segui, head of education at Espacio Ciencia, Laboratorio Tecnológico del Uruguay, Montevideo; Susan Wairimu Mahachi, a science teacher at Chisipite School, Harare, Zimbabwe, who has started working on creating the Zimbabwe Science Centre; and Netzach Farbiash, deputy general director for scientific content at Carasso Science Park, Beer Sheva, Israel—came to the conference seeking opportunities to network and gather resources and ideas.

We spoke to the McGrath Fellows during ASTC 2013 to learn about their institutions’ current work and future goals and challenges.

Read the full transcript, or listen to the podcast below.

Enlightening Our Practice: Advancing the Field Through Research

November 26th, 2013 - Posted in 2013, Dimensions by Emily Schuster

November/December 2013

While Dimensions has published new studies and research-based articles in the past, this is the first time an issue has focused entirely on research related to the science center and museum field. Research is critical to science center and museum professionals—it expands our perspectives and understanding, grounds our work in a broader context, and provides solid data on which to base our programs, policies, and advocacy efforts. In this issue, we highlight a few recent, relevant, and broadly applicable studies that illuminate topics important to moving the field forward. We hope the research in this issue will help individual practitioners and institutions achieve greater impact and will also advance the field as a whole.

• Science Centers and Research: An Overview, by Charlie Trautmann, Kim Cavendish, Gillian Thomas, Julie I. Johnson, Damien Francaviglia, and Christine Ruffo
• Science Centers Make a Difference: Results from the International Science Center Impact Study, by John H. Falk, Lynn D. Dierking, Mark D. Needham, and Lisa Prendergast
• Measuring and Evaluating Science Learning Activation, by Debra W. Moore, Meghan E. Bathgate, Joo Chung, and Matthew A. Cannady
Today’s Destination Visitors, by Diane Lochner and Tom Owen
• Learning at and for Work, by Julie I. Johnson
• More Recent Research You Should Know About, compiled by Christine Ruffo
• Dig Deeper at, by Trevor Nesbit and Kalie Sacco

(A companion blog post to this issue of Dimensions is available here.)

Online Departments
From the CEO
Q&A with Jeffrey Rudolph

Download the full issue.

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Today’s Destination Visitors

November 25th, 2013 - Posted in 2013, Dimensions by Emily Schuster

By Diane Lochner and Tom Owen
From Dimensions
November/December 2013

Now that the United States has passed through the crucible of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, destination visitors, both locals and those traveling, are back. And they are wiser, seek greater value, and are more sensitive to “pain points” (see graph) than ever before.

In May 2013, PGAV Destinations, a destination design and consulting firm in St. Louis, Missouri, and H2R Market Research published a study of destination visitors across the United States. The study evaluated the shifting priorities of today’s visitors and how their needs and wants drive their behavior.

A Fresh New Look

November 25th, 2013 - Posted in 2013, Dimensions, From the CEO by Emily Schuster

The entire ASTC staff is tremendously excited about the fresh, new, and inspirational look to ASTC these days. We hope readers ASTC’s print and online materials have noticed that the ASTC logo has taken on a new “flare,” literally! You could say the Association is “ablaze” with new programs and services, and our new logo exemplifies that ASTC energy. We encourage all of our ASTC-member science centers and museums to feature the new ASTC logo prominently in their buildings and on their websites. To update the ASTC logo in your institution, please contact us.

© Association of Science - Technology Centers Incorporated