Earth in Transition: Science Centers and Global Warming

November 15th, 2006 - Posted in 2006, Dimensions by Christine Ruffo

Dimensions coverNovember/December 2006

The start of the International Polar Year (IPY) in March 2007 marked the start of a major new undertaking for the science center community. ASTC’s “International action for GLObal warming” initiative (IGLO), an officially endorsed component of the IPY, will bring museums worldwide into partnership not only with IPY education and outreach efforts, but also with the International Polar Foundation, the World Ocean Network, UNESCO, and more. As scientists document the effects of rapidly increasing temperatures and greenhouse gas concentrations on Earth’s key Polar Regions, museum visitors will have a chance, through IGLO, to follow the research, participate in public debate, assess the impact of human activity, and take action locally, nationally, or internationally.


Global Warming: What Can Science Centers Do?, by Jeffrey Kirsch and Erik Jacquemyn
• Our Changing Climate: A Global Reality, by Robert W. Corell
• International Polar Year: Creating an Education and Outreach Continuum, by Mark S. McCaffrey
• The IGLO Initiative: Collaborating to Address Global Warming, by Walter Staveloz
• IGLO’s International Dimension, by Carolyn Sutterfield
• Linking the Networks: The IGLO Advisory Group, by Colin Johnson
• Climate Change: What Visitors Want from Science Centers, by Shelly E. Ryan
• From the Field: ‘Not Too Scary … Yet’, by Shari Gearheard
• Science Centers Take Action: An ASTC Sampler, compiled by Carolyn Sutterfield
• U.S. Agencies in Support of IGLO, by David Herring, Frank Niepold, and Joel Halvorson
• The IGLO Toolkit: One-Stop Shopping for Climate Change Science, by Charlie Trautmann
• Global Warming Resources

Download the full issue.

Subscribe/order back issues

Eyes on the Skies: Reconnecting Audiences with Astronomy

September 15th, 2006 - Posted in 2006, Dimensions by Christine Ruffo

Dimensions coverSeptember/ October 2006

“Astronomical concepts and images have universal appeal, inspiring wonder and resonating uniquely with human questions about our nature and our place in the universe.” So wrote a distinguished panel of U.S. scientists in Astronomy and Astrophysics in the New Millenium (National Academies Press, 2001). One chapter in the repost focuses on astronomy education, citing it’s power “not only to increase knowledge and understanding on the part of students and the public alike, but also to illuminate the nature of science.” As an example the authors chose Project ASTRO, an Astronomical Society of the Pacific program that employs the hands-on, inquiry-based methods long championed by science centers. In this issue, we look at Project ASTRO and other innovative programs, technologies, and partnerships that are helping museum audiences to better understand their “place in the universe.”

Fathoming the Unfathomable, by Dennis Schatz
• Supporting Educators: ASP and the Informal Science Community, by Michael G. Gibbs and Suzanne Gurton
• Kinesthetic Astronomy: Experiencing the Movement of the Spheres, by Cherilynn A. Morrow
• Hands-On Optics: Teaching the Technology behind Astronomy, by Stephen Pompea
• Sharing the Science: Public Outreach at Kitt Peak, by Rich Fedele
• Above the Horizon: The Changing Face of Planetariums, by Alex Barnett
• Planetarium Interactivity: A New Paradigm, by Al Najjar
• NASA’s One Place for Space, by Erika Reinfeld, Mary Dussault, and Anita Sohus
• Astronomy Resources

Download the full issue.

Subscribe/order back issues

Blogs, Podcasts and Wikis: Tapping the New Social Technologies

July 15th, 2006 - Posted in 2006, Dimensions by Christine Ruffo

Dimensions coverJuly/August 2006

More than a decade after the first museum web sites went online, a new revolution is sweeping the Internet. Driven by inexpensive and easy-to-use technologies, the phenomenon some call “Web 2.0″ is allowing users of popular sites like Blogger, Flickr, and Wikipedia to participate actively in creating their own web experiences. It’s time for science centers to get on board. In this issue, we examine how web-based tools like blogs, podcasts, wikis, discussion forums, RSS feeds, RFID tagging, and collaborative games are helping are helping ASTC members and others to deepen and extend relationships with and among visitors and provide professional development for staff.

Museums and the New Web: The Promise of Social Technologies, by Jim Spadaccini
• Building Science Buzz: Open Source Opens Doors, by Bryan Kennedy and Liza Pryor
• RedShiftNow: Ontario’s Online ‘Agent of Change’, Kevin von Appen
• Tech Tags: Extending the Visitor Experience at the Tech Museum of Innovation, by Lisa M. Granger
• Connecting Learning Communities: An Evolving Role for ASTC, by Geoff Crane
• WDIL: A Community Web Site for Interactive Web Design, by Wendy Pollock
• Social Technology Resources

Download part 1 of this issue.

Download part 2 of this issue.

Subscribe/order back issues

Blockbusters: Asset or Liability

May 15th, 2006 - Posted in 2006, Dimensions by Christine Ruffo

Dimensions coverMay/June 2006

What have science centers learned in the past decade about the effect of blockbusters, those wildly popular traveling exhibitions and large-format films that drive attendance and inspire media “buzz”? Do blockbusters help museums reach broader audiences, increase visibility in the community, grow membership? Is the boost in income and attendance worth the time, expense, and trouble? In this issue, we examine what the blockbuster phenomenon tells us about our field and consider some future directions for exhibitions and films.

In Search of New Audiences: Blockbusters and Beyond, by Sheila Grinell
• Extending the Brand: The Body Worlds Effect, by Jeff Rudolph
• A Certain Alchemy: The Blockbuster Strategy at La Cité, by Brigitte Coutant and Marc Girard
• The First Blockbuster: King Tut’s Legacy, by Marjorie Schwarzer
• Entertaining Ideas: The Role of DMR Films in Museum Theaters, by Greg Brown
• Perception Busters: Promoting the Science Museum of the Future, by Heather Mayfield
• Building a Blockbuster: The Science of Super Heroes, by Grant Troop and Nicola Lisus
• The Littlest Blockbuster, by Carolyn Sutterfield
• The Attendance Treadmill: Best Gauge of Science Center Fitness?, Emlyn Koster

Download part 1 of this issue.

Download part 2 of this issue.

Subscribe/order back issues

Misunderstanding of Science: The Evolution Challenge

March 15th, 2006 - Posted in 2006, Dimensions by Christine Ruffo

Dimensions coverMarch/April 2006

With so many museum and science-related publications addressing the intelligent design/evolution controversy, what can ASTC’s journal contribute to the conversation? Perhaps we can best draw some lessons from our own failure to communicate. Although the science of evolution is not in question, public understanding certainly falls short. In this issue, we examine why that might be, and what science centers and museums can do about it—surveying visitors’ attitudes vis-a-vis those of the public at large, to focusing on staff training, to creating effective exhibits and programming, to opening the floor to community discussion. As Martin Weiss observes in his lead article, “We have the tools, the audience, and their respect: we just need the will.”

Beyond the Evolution Battle: Addressing Public Misunderstanding, by Martin Weiss
• In Darwin’s Footsteps: the Man and His Journey, by Carolyn Sutterfield
• Evolution, Creationism, and Intelligent Design: A Natural History Museum’s Experience, by Warren D. Allmon
• What They Bring with Them: Visitors’ Perspectives on Evolution, by Martin Storksdieck and Jill Stein
• Unfiltered and Unbiased: Discussing Evolution in St. Louis, by Terry Holekamp
• Intuition and Understanding: How Children Develop Evolution Concepts, by E. Margaret Evans
• Living Evolution: A Passion for Science Communication, by Gail Jennes
• Evolution Resources
• Science as a World View, or, Can Science Explain Everything?, by Gretchen Jennings

Download the full issue.

Subscribe/order back issues

© Association of Science - Technology Centers Incorporated