Reimagined and Rebranded: Science Centers for the 21st Century

September 15th, 2013 - Posted in 2013, Dimensions by Alejandro Asin

By Eli Kuslansky and Gregory Peduto
From Dimensions
September/October 2013

Science centers: bastions of fun and exploration, destinations where children can let loose, providers of hands-on learning to spark a lifelong love of science. However, when children grow into adulthood in our technologically accelerating society, are they still called to science centers to satisfy their curiosity? In fact, many adults feel that science centers are no longer a place for them.

In a 2008 Reach Advisors study, more than 80% of respondents stated that science centers best served children and families, and only 22% said adults were best served. (Respondents could choose more than one option.) Increasingly, science centers face the challenge of how to engage adult audiences. To be relevant to these audiences and society in the 21st century, science centers must broaden their brand to appeal to adults as much as they do to children.
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Making the Case

September 15th, 2013 - Posted in 2013, Dimensions by Alejandro Asin

By Sean Smith
From Dimensions
September/October 2013

For many years, ASTC has attempted to “make the case” to local, state, and national government officials for funding competitive grant programs that can benefit science centers, museums, and their communities. While some of our traditional talking points about engaging audiences with science, technology, engineering, math (STEM), health, and environmental issues remain influential, these messages, like the field itself, have evolved in recent years. Government officials’ perception of the field, too, is evolving.

Recently, ASTC and its Public Policy Committee (which is charged with helping to set, approve, and implement our advocacy agenda) have found that U.S. legislators and congressional staffers are becoming increasingly interested in—and supportive of—some of the field’s important but lesser known capabilities. Among these, teacher professional development (offered by 82% of ASTC’s U.S. members) and curriculum materials (offered by 75% of U.S. members) have been especially well received in light of the pressing need for improved STEM education.
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Field Trips: What Teachers Told Us

September 1st, 2013 - Posted in 2013, Dimensions by Emily Schuster

By Mary Ann Wojton
From Dimensions
September/October 2013

Student field trips to COSI in Columbus, Ohio, attract approximately 75,000 visitors annually. We wanted to understand how teachers perceive our science center and field trip offerings in order to better serve them and to represent ourselves to them in the most positive and relevant way. Therefore, COSI conducted several studies to learn why teachers bring students to visit and how they view the relevance of field trips to their curriculum.
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Best Practices in Public Relations

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

We asked public relations (PR) professionals from science centers and museums around the world to send us their best practices, guidelines, practical tips, and pieces of advice. Here’s what they told us. (This is an extended version of an article that appeared in the September/October 2013 issue of Dimensions magazine.)

Thanksgiving Point is currently in the process of raising the remaining funding needed for the Museum of Natural Curiosity—Utah’s newest children’s museum, opening in 2014. A year out from opening, Thanksgiving Point launched a PR campaign to raise awareness for the new museum and to spread the message of its fundraising needs. Based off this specific campaign, below are our top three tips in PR efforts for museums that are looking to raise awareness:

• Take the risk to execute outside-the-box ideas. What would you think if you saw a submarine wreck in your local community’s pond? With Thanksgiving Point’s RUcurious2.org campaign, we aimed to evoke curiosity to promote awareness for the Museum of Natural Curiosity. Instead of just telling people about the new museum, we created a unique, memorable way of launching the message to the public. We all hear the phrase “think outside the box,” but we tend to stop at the thinking stage and don’t move on to actually executing these ideas. Take risks to do something out of the ordinary. Creative new ideas can be intimidating to pull off, but if strategically planned, they can create a lot of buzz.
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Let’s Give Parents Some Credit . . . and Support!

August 25th, 2013 - Posted in 2013, Dimensions, From the CEO by Anthony (Bud) Rock

The famous U.S. writer, Mark Twain, reportedly once stated, “When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant, I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”

This humorous, but poignant, quote came to mind as I recently reviewed a study commissioned by the Microsoft Corporation in which the data indicate that parents and caregivers exert tremendous influence on the decisions of young people about their future career choices. According to the study, parents are twice as likely as teachers or counselors (and four times as likely as peers) to influence boys about career direction. These numbers, and the significance of parents’ role in the decision-making process, are even higher for girls.
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