Announcing the World Biotech Tour

October 18th, 2014 - Posted in ASTC News, Partners by Mary Mathias

ASTC and the Biogen Idec Foundation are proud to announce the launch of the World Biotech Tour (WBT), a multi-year project designed to increase the impact and visibility of biotechnology to youth, the general public, and underserved communities in an effort to promote science literacy worldwide. The WBT will improve the professional capacity of science center personnel and create a cohort of young people acting as ambassadors for the Tour in their communities and beyond. The WBT is made possible through a grant from the Biogen Idec Foundation.

The World Biotech Tour will include several biotech-themed events hosted at international sites that will engage different generations of life-long learners, both at the science centers themselves and in the community, making biotechnology accessible to all. A key component will be the “Lab in a Box” product, which contains experiments designed to showcase the relevance of biotechnology in everyday life.

The first three stops of the WBT in 2015 will be at Technopolis, the Flemish Science Centre in Mechelen, Belgium; Pavilion of Knowledge – Ciência Viva in Lisbon, Portugal; and Miraikan, National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation in Tokyo, Japan. In addition to the 12 scheduled stops on the tour over the three years of the program, any and all museums will have access to resources necessary to host their own event, free of charge, on the WBT website at www.WorldBiotechTour.org.

The WBT will also feature an international Ambassadors Program that will enlist a select group of middle and high school students from around the world to support and inspire others to participate in WBT activities in their communities and schools. Throughout the WBT, ASTC and the Biogen Idec Foundation will conduct research on how biotechnology is being taught to the public, both in schools and outside the classroom. The findings from this research will be shared at the conclusion of the World Biotech Tour at the 2017 Science Centre World Summit in Tokyo, Japan.

For more information, visit www.WorldBiotechTour.org and follow the tour on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Science Center World Summit Mechelen Declaration

October 16th, 2014 - Posted in ASTC News by Mary Mathias

Written By Erik Jacquemyn, Chair of the 1st Science Centre World Summit (SCWS)

From Monday, March 17 until Wednesday, March 19, 2014, the Science Centre World Summit took place in Mechelen, Belgium, bringing together CEOs, managers, decision makers, and experts from within and outside the science centre field. In total, 464 participants from 58 different countries attended the Summit.

The purpose was to create a global network of diverse organizations in order to make society aware of the opportunities science holds for the sustainable advancement of society. In this way, the Summit differs from former world congresses that mainly focused on the role that the science centre sector can play in increasing public engagement in science and technology.

One of the outcomes of the World Summit is the “Mechelen Declaration.” Building on the 2008 Toronto and 2011 Cape Town Declarations, the Mechelen Declaration sets out a plan for the international science centre field and its strategic partners to commit to seven concrete actions for the enhancement of public engagement for a better world. Like the 2008 and 2011 Declarations, the Mechelen Declaration has been developed in close consultation with the regional science centre networks.

The Declaration was presented at the beginning of the 2014 Summit, which enabled session presenters and participants to reflect on its messages throughout the Summit programme.

The day prior to the Summit, 78 science centre CEOs met to prioritize key actions and suggestions for implementation of the Mechelen Declaration to form the basis for developing a guide for science centres and partner organizations to plan and measure their contributions to the advancement of the Declaration goals.

In a plenary session on Tuesday, March 18, all attendees were invited to take part in a voting round about the priorities of the seven action points. Attendees were asked in three consequent voting rounds to prioritize the three most important action points.

All the discussions about the Declaration resolved that:

  • The Mechelen Declaration is to be viewed as a starting point and a framework for discussion. Although it was meticulously prepared by an editorial committee and approved by the regional networks, it will be supplemented by a memorandum to guide science centres, networks, and partner organizations in their follow-up to the Declaration goals.
  • Although needing to work together as a global science centre community, it is important for science centres to implement the Declaration in their own localities as appropriate to their local contexts and opportunities.

Summit participants reached a consensus on the following two goals as high immediate priority within the Declaration:

  • Investigate how to engage even more effectively with local communities and increasingly diverse audiences, and keep the focus on gender differences in engagement.
  • Take the lead in developing the best methods for engaging learners and optimizing their education in both formal and informal settings using appropriate technologies in widely varying contexts.

The Mechelen Declaration was signed not only by delegates from within the science centre field and their networks, but also by other international organizations such as the Organization of American States (OAS) and the International Council of Museums (ICOM). The chief scientific adviser to the head of the European Commission also endorsed the Declaration. By signing the document, they agree to promote the Declaration to their organizations and to respond to future invitations to discuss potential partnerships.

At the end of the Summit, participants signed the Declaration to personally commit to bring the seven goals into reality.

Towards 2017
The next Science Centre World Summit will be organized in Tokyo (November 15-17, 2017).

Since the 2014 Summit in March, there have been consultations amongst the networks and it was agreed that there will be no “Tokyo Declaration.” Instead, working towards 2017, the networks are committed to work on the implementation of the outcomes of the Mechelen Declaration. In 2017 the focus will be on the evaluation of these efforts. The Declaration will guide part of the activity of the networks in the future and it will be seen by all.

And it starts here at the 2014 ASTC conference. Go to the ASTC Resource Center in the Exhibit Hall to see the declaration, and follow ASTC social media pages (Facebook, Twitter, ASTC General Forum) to contribute your views.

Lights On Afterschool Partnership Minigrant Recipients

September 29th, 2014 - Posted in ASTC News, Partners by Mary Mathias

ASTC and the Afterschool Alliance have, through funding from the Noyce Foundation, awarded 20 Lights On Afterschool Partnership Minigrants. Minigrants were awarded to ASTC-member institutions to aid in the implementation of an event for the Lights On Afterschool celebration in cooperation with an afterschool partner. This program stems from the partnership formed between ASTC and the Afterschool Alliance as our Commitment to Action for the Clinton Global Initiative, an annual drive to find innovative solutions to promote economic recovery in the United States, including objectives in education and skill development. This minigrant program is designed to strengthen STEM learning partnerships between ASTC-member science centers in the United States and afterschool providers.

The 15th annual Lights On Afterschool celebration will be held on October 23, 2014, with events taking place throughout October. Lights On Afterschool is the only nationwide event celebrating afterschool programs and their important role in the lives of children, families, and communities. Science centers are ideally placed to hold events as a part of Lights On Afterschool, and these grants were awarded to support such events.

Congratulations to all recipients:

  • Arizona Science Center in Phoenix, AZ, with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale, AZ
  • The Bakken Museum, with the Sabathani Community Center, both in Minneapolis, MN
  • Betty Brinn Children’s Museum, with Journey House Community Center, both in Milwaukee, WI
  • Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh, PA, with the Sewickley Valley YMCA in Sewickley, PA
  • Children’s Discovery Museum in Normal, IL, with the Boys & Girls Club of Bloomington-Normal, IL
  • Children’s Discovery Museum in Augusta, ME, with the Maine Afterschool Network in Farmington
  • Explora Science Center & Children’s Museum of Albuquerque, with Children’s Choice Child Care Services, Inc, both in Albuquerque, NM
  • Exploration Place, The Sedgwick County Science and Discovery Center in Wichita, KS, with McConnell Air Force Base 4-H at McConnell AFB, KS
  • The Franklin Institute, with Project H.O.M.E. / Honickman Learning Center and Comcast Technology Labs, both in Philadelphia, PA
  • Headwaters Science Center, with the Boys & Girls Club of the Bemidji Area, both in Bemidji, MN
  • Imagination Station Science and History Museum, with The SPOT, both in Wilson, NC
  • miSci – museum of innovation and science in Schenectady, NY, with AfterSchool Works! New York in Menands, NY
  • Museum of Discovery, with the Arkansas Out of School Network, both in Little Rock
  • Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, MT, with the Boys & Girls Club of Lewistown, MT
  • Oregon Museum of Science and Industry in Portland, with the Youth Development Coalition of Lincoln County in Newport, OR
  • Perot Museum of Nature and Science, with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Dallas, both in Dallas, TX
  • Roper Mountain Science Center, with Communities in Schools, both in Greenville, SC
  • South Dakota Discovery Center, with Oahe YMCA Kidstop, both in Pierre
  • Staten Island Children’s Museum, with The Children’s Aid Society, both in Staten Island, NY
  • University of Alaska Museum of the North, with 4-H – University of Alaska, both in Fairbanks

Help Us Make ASTC’s New Website Beautiful

August 12th, 2014 - Posted in ASTC News by Mary Mathias

ASTC will be launching a new website at the 2014 annual conference, and we’d like your help! We are interested in including photos throughout the site that show the wonderful range of experiences and programs ASTC members have to offer. A few things to note:

  • Photos should be at least 1,200 pixels on the smallest side.
  • Please do not send any photos of just the outside of your building. (It’s a great building, we’re sure, but we’re more interested in what people are doing in and around it.)
  • Offsite photos are great too! Wherever and whenever your institution conducts programming, we want to see it.
  • We’d like to show the diverse audiences that museums and science centers serve, so we welcome photos with visitors of all ages, not just children.
  • Please send your best photos. These images will be seen by the thousands of visitors to the ASTC site, and we want to show them the very best.

If you have photos that show your institution’s activities and audiences that ASTC could use on the new site, please send them to web@astc.org by Friday, August 29. If your photos are too large to email, or if you have any other questions, please let us know.

Lights On Afterschool Partnership Minigrant

July 29th, 2014 - Posted in ASTC News, Partners by Mary Mathias

ASTC and the Afterschool Alliance are pleased to announce the Lights On Afterschool Partnership Minigrant. This Noyce Foundation-funded program stems from the partnership formed between ASTC and the Afterschool Alliance as our Commitment to Action for the Clinton Global Initiative, an annual drive to find innovative solutions to promote economic recovery in the United States, including objectives in education and skill development. This minigrant program is designed to strengthen STEM learning partnerships between ASTC-member science centers in the United States and afterschool providers.

The 15th annual Lights On Afterschool celebration will be on October 23, 2014, with events taking place throughout October. Lights On Afterschool is the only nationwide event celebrating afterschool programs and their important role in the lives of children, families, and communities. Science centers are ideally placed to hold events as a part of Lights On Afterschool, and these grants will be used to support such events.

Eligibility requirements for the minigrant include:

  • Current membership in ASTC.
  • Science centers and museums must be based in the United States.
  • The identified afterschool partner must be a part of a larger afterschool program with multiple sites or be the statewide afterschool network.
  • Both partners should share an interest in developing or increasing their capacity for STEM programming for youth in out-of-school time programs.
  • Submission of a complete application that includes some basic demographic data about each partner organization, a narrative description of the proposed activity, an event date, and details about how the event will be promoted in the community.

View the recording of the informational webinar here to learn more about Lights On Afterschool and this minigrant opportunity.

For more information about the Lights On Afterschool Partnership Minigrants, check out the Request for Applications and the FAQ. The application deadline is 11:00 p.m. ET on Friday, August 22, 2014. Minigrant recipients will be announced in September 2014.

© Association of Science - Technology Centers Incorporated