When are evaluation and other visitor feedback strategies the most useful for helping advance a science center’s mission? When are such strategies less successful?

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

This is an extended discussion of the question that appeared in the Viewpoints department of the September/October 2013 issue of Dimensions magazine.

Evaluation is a powerful tool for providing visitors with a voice, which then enables us to stay relevant to their needs and motivations. The goal of any exhibit or program is to engage visitors, perhaps challenging them to think critically about a concept or topic or to reflect on their own understanding. To do this, we need to understand who our visitors are and what knowledge and attitudes they may be bringing to an experience, as well as what would most likely pique their interest and keep them engaged. This strategy is only ineffective if the institution is not ready or willing to hear and act upon that voice.

Joy Kubarek-Sandor, director, learning planning and evaluation
John G. Shedd Aquarium, Chicago

Q&A with Chevy Humphrey

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

Interviewed by Joelle Seligson

This interview appeared in the September/October 2013 issue of Dimensions magazine.

How can a child follow the paths of a musically inclined mother and a science-oriented father? Chevy Humphrey, president and CEO of the Arizona Science Center in Phoenix, managed to do both. She worked with the Houston and Phoenix symphonies before beginning at the science center 15 years ago. Along with her parents, Humphrey credits mentors with helping her find career success—and she pledges to pay it forward. Here, she shares advice for aspiring museum administrators, and reveals where she plans to guide ASTC when she begins her term as the new board chair at the 2013 ASTC Annual Conference in October.

Read the full transcript, or listen to the podcast.

Developing the Science Center Workforce

July 31st, 2013 - Posted in 2013, Dimensions by Alejandro Asin

July/August 2013

This issue of Dimensions looks at the science center and museum workforce and professional development through a broad lens. What are effective ways to hone the skills and expertise of individual staff members, build capacity and cohesion across an institution, and professionalize our broader field? How we can we recruit the most diverse, talented, and innovative workforce possible? How do professionals from different sectors of the field—whether they work on the gallery floor or in an office, in a science center or a zoo, in a developed or developing country—come together to improve their practice and serve their publics? The articles in this issue present trends, strategies, data, and practical guidelines to help explore these questions.

• Professional Development in the Informal Science Education Field: A Growing, Diverse Landscape, by Jamie Bell and Kalie Sacco
• Professional Learning Through Reflecting on Practice, by Lynn Uyen Tran, Catherine Halversen, and Maia Werner-Avidon
Recruiting for Inclusion and Innovation, by Laura Huerta Migus
• Orienting New Team Members for Long-Term Success, by Charlie Trautmann
• Partnering to Build Capacity in Indonesian Science Centers, by Kate Barnard and Merryn McKinnon
Science Centers and Zoos: Creating Public Value Through Complementary Strengths, by John Fraser, Martin Weiss, Beverly Sheppard, and Kate Flinner
• Taking the Floor, by David Rock
• Who Are Floor Staff?, by Christine Ruffo
• Graduate School: A Pathway to a Science Center Career, by Kalie Sacco (extended content available here)

Online Departments
• From the CEO
• Q&A with Alejandro Frank

Download the full issue.

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Recruiting for Inclusion and Innovation

July 31st, 2013 - Posted in 2013, Dimensions by Alejandro Asin

By Laura Huerta Migus
From Dimensions
July/August 2013

“It is diversity that drives innovation: a diversity of perspectives, of industries, of cultures. When we bring together these different perspectives, we have a far better chance of breaking new ground.”
—Frans Johansson, author of
The Medici Effect

Over the past two decades, the United States and other countries have experienced major demographic changes in race/ethnicity, age, and socioeconomic distribution, paired with rapid development of new technologies. In response to these changes, many corporations have positioned recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce as a core strategy for relevance and innovation. Many of the lessons learned are easily translated to science center and museum staffing practices. In particular, writing clear and inclusive job descriptions, advertising job opportunities in new channels, and ensuring a fair and balanced interview process are the pillars for recruiting for inclusion and innovation.

Science Center and Zoos: Creating Public Value Through Complementary Strengths

July 31st, 2013 - Posted in 2013, Dimensions by Alejandro Asin

By John Fraser, Martin Weiss, Beverly Sheppard, and Kate Flinner
From Dimensions
July/August 2013

Educators at science centers, zoos, and other informal science education institutions (ISE) work in distinct traditions. Yet, funders often lump them into a single class of ISE environments. Even science centers and zoos themselves may imagine that they compete for funds and visitors. This tendency to think as competitors creates cultural silos in the field. However, what happens when two institutions in the same community focus their resources simultaneously on a shared topic?

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