What “Sustains” Us

July 31st, 2013 - Posted in 2013, Dimensions, From the CEO by Anthony (Bud) Rock

Science centers and museums the world over are successful through the combined efforts of capable staff, dedicated board members, committed volunteers, supportive community leaders, and a widely diverse collection of suppliers whose products and services help us bring exciting and educational programming to our visitors. ASTC refers to these suppliers—including individuals, corporations, and public agencies—as our “sustaining members.” Together, they support nearly every aspect of our operations, and they are often the source of the most innovative and forward-thinking concepts employed within our institutions.

Q&A with Alejandro Frank

June 27th, 2013 - Posted in 2013, Dimensions, Q&A by Emily Schuster

Interviewed by Joelle Seligson

This interview appeared in the July/August 2013 issue of Dimensions magazine.

Alejandro Frank had been a nuclear physicist for around 25 years when, as he explains it, he “turned toward the children.” Eight years ago, Frank, professor of physics at the Nuclear Science Institute of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), joined colleagues to determine science’s most important contribution to the country. Their conclusion: Science must be brought to the children. Frank and fellow scientists are now working to achieve this goal through PAUTA, which stands for “Programa Adopte un Talento”—the Adopt a Talent Program. Frank discussed the challenges and triumphs of this innovative project, which he’ll present as part of a daylong workshop before the ASTC Annual Conference in Albuquerque this October.

Read the full transcript, or listen to the podcast.

Photo by Naixieli Castillo García/AMC

Personalizing the Visitor Experience

May 28th, 2013 - Posted in 2013, Dimensions by Alejandro Asin

May/June 2013

Free-choice learning is the hallmark of science centers and interactive museums. But many institutions are taking this idea a step further by exploring strategies for personalizing the visitor experience—before, during, or after the visit. Some approaches are high tech, like compiling a visitor’s on-site experiences onto a personalized webpage. Others are low tech, such as delivering exceptional visitor service. Personalization projects have many goals, including enhancing learning, inspiring emotional connections and behavior changes, and building a sense of ownership. In this issue, we look at a variety of personalization approaches and tools, and examine their impact.

• When Every Visitor is a VIP: The Personalized Museum Visit, by Rachel Hellenga
Personalizing Visitor Service in a Small Museum, by Jennifer Jenkins
21-Tech: Engaging Museum Visitors Using Mobile Technologies, by Keith Ostfeld
• Dive Deeper: A Personal Immersion Experience with Sea Turtles, by Kira Stearns
A Custom Fit: Personalizing Experiences Using Technology
• The QRator Project: Promoting Personal Meaning-Making in Museums, by Steven Gray, Claire Ross, Andrew Hudson-Smith, Melissa Terras, and Claire Warwick
• Applying Simulations to Social Learning Experiences, by Eileen Smith, Michael Carney, and Kim Cavendish

Online Departments
From the CEO
Q&A with Ilan Chabay

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Personalizing Visitor Service in a Small Museum

May 28th, 2013 - Posted in 2013, Dimensions by Alejandro Asin

By Jennifer Jenkins
From Dimensions
May/June 2013

WonderLab Museum of Science, Health and Technology in Bloomington, Indiana, strives to be not just a destination, but also a valuable community asset. Open since 2003 in its current downtown location, WonderLab is a small museum—7,600 square feet (700 square meters) of gallery space—with fewer than 15 full-time staff but more than 1,000 volunteers. Located in a small college town in mainly rural southern Indiana, WonderLab welcomed more than 85,000 visitors in 2012 and has 1,680 member families. We are fortunate to serve a core group of visitors who support the museum and our mission to create experiences that share the wonder and excitement of science with the public.

To ensure that WonderLab continues to be highly valued by the community, we work to keep each visitor engaged and invested in the museum. Meeting this challenge can be achieved by offering visitors individualized interactions with staff and volunteers. Consistently stellar visitor service can be the calling card for smaller museums such as WonderLab.

21-Tech: Engaging Museum Visitors Using Mobile Technologies

May 11th, 2013 - Posted in 2013, Dimensions by Emily Schuster

By Keith Ostfeld
From Dimensions
May/June 2013

Society has reached a point where everyone desires customized services and products—from coffee to computers to museum experiences—that meet their needs, expectations, and aesthetics. With today’s easy access to phenomenal computational power through personal mobile technologies (PMTs) like smartphones and tablets, we have new avenues to customize museum experiences. How can we best leverage the high accessibility of PMTs to personalize and deepen the visitor experience? Over the past two years, the 21-Tech project collaborative has been investigating this question.

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