Shaping Perceptions of Science Centers

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

IN THIS ISSUE
September/October 2013

When people look at science centers, what do they see? How can science centers shape those perceptions in a positive direction? In this issue of Dimensions, we examine how important audiences and stakeholders—including government officials, people from minority backgrounds, teachers, donors, and general adult audiences—perceive science centers. In addition, this issue highlights specific strategies science centers can use to influence how their audiences see them—from branding campaigns to responsive websites to public relations techniques. Throughout the magazine, you’ll find practical advice, best practices, and inspirational ideas for how to best represent your institution. By understanding their audiences and meeting their needs, engaging with current issues and technologies, and communicating effectively, science centers can be perceived as relevant, welcoming, innovative places that are of great value to their communities.

Features
• A Brand New Image, by Joelle Seligson
Reimagined and Rebranded: Science Centers for the 21st Century, by Eli Kuslansky and Gregory Peduto
Making the Case, by Sean Smith
• Highlighting the Importance of Science Centers to Local and National Leaders, by Alexander Zwissler
• Science Centers and Cultural Diplomacy: An Australia-Vietnam Case Study, by Graham Durant
• Interculturalism: A New Way of Understanding Audience Engagement, by Salvador Acevedo
Field Trips: What Teachers Told Us, by Mary Ann Wojton
Best Practices in Public Relations
• Increasing Philanthropic Support, by Erik Pihl
• Why Your Organization Should Consider a Responsive Website, by Jason Bosher

Online Departments
From the CEO
Viewpoints
Q&A with Chevy Humphrey

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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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