If you could change one thing about the science center and museum field, what would it be?

September 1st, 2014 - Posted in 2014, Dimensions, Viewpoints by Emily Schuster

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

I worry that we are not confident enough about our place in the science learning ecosystem, with the result that we try to do more than we need to.  We may be less good at delivering information to people than the web or schools, but we are much better at instilling curiosity, providing context and providing a social environment where people can learn together and see each other learn.  We don’t set exit tests for our visitors, so we shouldn’t feel like we have to include lots of testable information just to fit with a stereotype of being “educational.”

Andy Lloyd, head of special projects, International Centre for Life, Newcastle upon Tyne, England, United Kingdom


Q&A with Molly Paul: Turtle Power

September 1st, 2014 - Posted in 2014, Dimensions, Q&A by Emily Schuster

Interviewed by Joelle Seligson

This interview appeared in the September/October 2014 issue of Dimensions magazine.

A decade ago, five-year-old Molly Paul declared that she wanted to be a leader in the science world. Today, the tenth grader is starting her fourth year as a junior curator at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences (NCMNS) in Raleigh, which will host ASTC’s 2014 Annual Conference. Paul is also founder of the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math to Leaders Engaged in Affecting the Future (STEM to LEAF) camp at NCMNS, and of Raleigh Aquatic Turtle Adoption, a local organization dedicated to saving unwanted pet turtles. She has earned awards for her student leadership and her volunteer service, and earlier this year she accompanied NCMNS Director Emlyn Koster to accept a National Medal for Museum and Library Service at the White House. Recently, Paul took some time to chat with Dimensions about her passion for science and her goals for the future.

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

About the image: Emlyn Koster (left), director of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, and Molly Paul (center) accept the National Medal for Museum and Library Service from First Lady Michelle Obama (right) in a White House ceremony. Photo courtesy IMLS

Telling Science Stories

July 31st, 2014 - Posted in 2014, Dimensions by Alejandro Asin

July/August 2014

Storytelling may seem like less of a natural fit for science centers than for history or even art museums, but people have been using stories to make sense of the natural world for thousands of years. Storytelling is one of the oldest forms of teaching and learning. In today’s science centers and museums, storytelling can break down barriers to science learning, making complex science content more accessible, relatable, and relevant. Stories capture our attention, stick in our memory, inspire our curiosity, engage our intellect along with our emotions, and form a powerful connection between teller and listener.

In this issue, we explore how science centers and museums are using storytelling—in exhibit labels, on stage, on the museum floor, on a variety of screens, and in programs and workshops—to reach museum staff, audiences, and scientists and inspire them to tell their own stories.

• Stories Make Science Stick, by Tom Owen
STEPS: Where the Drama of Science Meets the Science of Drama, by Brad McLain
• The Matchmakers: Exploring Science and Society Stories with Scientists, by Stephanie Long
• Exploring the Science of Artifacts Through Storytelling, by Patrick Watt
• Memories and Favorites: Integrating Visitor Voices into an Exhibition, by Eleanor Ross
• Doing Science in a Story-Driven History Museum, by Melanie Hayes
• Once Upon a Map: Telling Stories in the Digital Age, by Allie Sorlie
Hane’ (Story): Using Cross-Cultural Understanding to Facilitate Science Learning in Museums, By Nancy C. Maryboy, David Begay, Laura Peticolas, Jill Stein, and Ashley C. Teren

Online Departments:
From the CEO: Science museums evolve: Are we preparing?
Q&A with Ari Daniel: Telling science stories on the airwaves

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STEPS: Where the Drama of Science Meets the Science of Drama

July 31st, 2014 - Posted in 2014, Dimensions by Alejandro Asin

By Brad McLain
From Dimensions
July/August 2014

“Once language was available to describe social scenarios from memory and anticipations, we became Homo narratus. We have become psychological beings who are incapable of not narrating our experiences both to ourselves and each other.” —Alan Parry, 1997

People are natural storytellers. We are also natural story hearers. Narrative (story) is the preferred way humans structure complex knowledge. It’s also the oldest way we share both cultural and personal information. We are still addicted to narrative—think of blogs, books, TV, radio, movies, theater, and even video games. Yet curiously, education underuses narrative—a missed opportunity at best and a gross misconstruction of our educational systems at worst.


Science Museums Evolve: Are We Preparing?

July 31st, 2014 - Posted in 2014, Dimensions, From the CEO by Anthony (Bud) Rock

Position descriptions posted on ASTC’s job bank offer glimpses into the most valued qualifications for professionals in our science center and museum community. The needs of our member institutions are constantly evolving in response to increasingly diverse audiences, more challenging science topics, and new research on learning strategies. To succeed, we depend upon professionals who have the skills to respond to these changes.

© Association of Science - Technology Centers Incorporated