Do you think the current surge of making and tinkering spaces in science centers and museums is a temporary fad, or are they here to stay?

April 24th, 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 May/June 2014 issue of Dimensions magazine.

Making and tinkering are not fads. Their presence in science centers and museums may be a fad for many, but “making” is a human biological imperative. We are the species that makes over its environment to suit our needs more than any other. In many ways, a great number of us have become consumers rather than creators. Encouraging making and sharing useful skills seem like perfect jobs for informal education institutions. Making and tinkering spaces in museums should be fluid, they should change, they should grow and contract, they should be “made” and made again. At the very least, making should fit your mission and you should define what a making or tinkering space is within your institutional culture.

Elena Baca, educator and external relations coordinator, and Eric Meyer, educational services director, Explora, Albuquerque, New Mexico


Q&A with Sean Carroll: Science and the Silver Screen

April 24th, 2014 - Posted in 2014, Dimensions, Q&A by Emily Schuster

Interviewed by Joelle Seligson

This interview appeared in the May/June 2014 issue of Dimensions magazine.

Ron Howard and Natalie Portman are among the Hollywood elite whose work has been influenced by Sean Carroll, theoretical physicist at the California Institute of Technology. Based in Los Angeles, Carroll counts working with television and movie bigwigs among his many extracurricular pursuits. The Science and Entertainment Exchange, a program of the (U.S.) National Academy of Sciences, links Carroll and other experts with entertainment industry figures who are looking to add a scientific dimension to their productions. In a recent discussion with Dimensions, Carroll recounted favorite moments from consulting on box office smashes, as well as the importance of adding elements of science to unexpected realms.

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

Cultivating the Future: Science Centers and Agriculture

April 17th, 2014 - Posted in 2014, Dimensions by Alejandro Asin

March/April 2014

Inspired by the International Year of Family Farming 2014, this issue of Dimensions examines how science centers and museums are addressing the diverse, complex, and sometimes controversial issues surrounding agriculture.

We all depend on agriculture—whether we live in a rural or urban area, in a developed or developing country. Agriculture encompasses some of the world’s most critical issues, including combating hunger, protecting the environment, and spurring economic growth.

Science centers and museums are ideal places to examine this universally relevant topic. As community meeting places and educational resources, science centers are engaging audiences in agriculture by holding farmers markets and dialogue forums, creating exhibitions and outreach programs, and getting kids’ hands dirty in urban gardens. Agriculture provides an opportunity to address science-related topics ranging from nutrition to nano. We invite you to explore with us the many facets of this critical subject, so deeply rooted in science, technology, and our communities.

Family Farming: Feeding the World, Caring for the Earth, by Conchi Quintana
• Promoting the Philosophy of Sufficiency Economy for Agriculture in Thailand, by Nanthaka Saengchan
• Exploring Agricultural Sciences and Careers, by Michele Laverty
• Growing an Advisory Group, by Bruce Quast
• Contain Yourself: Exploring Agriculture Through Container Gardens, by Tracy Calogheros
• From Heritage Fruit Trees to “Space Lettuce”: Agricultural Projects from Around the Field
• Farming for Fuels, by Wayne Robinson
Scientist for a Day: Interpreting Brazilian Biodiesel, by Vivian Chies and Daniela Garcia Collares

Online Departments
From the CEO: “My job is science”
Q&A with Angelo Vermeulen: How to eat on Mars

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Family Farming: Feeding the World, Caring for the Earth

April 17th, 2014 - Posted in 2014, Dimensions by Alejandro Asin

By Conchi Quintana
From Dimensions
March/April 2014

According to current forecasts, world agricultural production will have to increase by 70% by 2050 to meet the food demands of a world population of over 9 billion. The good news is that there is no need to invent anything new to respond to this challenge; instead, we need to realize the productive potential of family farming.

The International Year of Family Farming (IYFF-2014) is dedicated to recognizing the work of men and women family farmers worldwide. It acknowledges the potential of small farms to achieve food security and eradicate poverty through sustainable food production, as stated in Resolution 66/222, adopted by the UN General Assembly. Family farming also has great potential to protect land and the environment.

This article will explain the importance of family farming for the present and future of our planet and set out IYFF-2014’s goals. It will also discuss ways science centers and museums can participate and help raise awareness of the importance of family farming throughout the world.

"My Job Is Science"

April 17th, 2014 - Posted in 2014, Dimensions, From the CEO by Anthony (Bud) Rock

I have been fascinated for some time with the issue of science in the everyday workforce. My goal is for our science centers and museums to give nearly every parent or caregiver the opportunity to describe his or her profession to a child in distinctly “scientific terms,” even if this is less obvious on its face. This might take the form of a program or exhibition entitled “My Job Is Science,” where careers of all types are described in terms of their connections to science: “I am a hospital technician, plumber, restaurant employee, auto mechanic, law enforcement or fire and rescue officer, teacher, farmer—and my job is about science.”

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