ASTC recognizes award winners

October 20th, 2013 - Posted in ASTC News, Annual Conference, Featured, Member News by Larry Hoffer

 During the first annual Leadership and Awards Luncheon (sponsored by Blackbaud) on October 19, ASTC presented its Fellow Award, the Roy L. Shafer Leading Edge Awards, and a special resolution from the Association’s Board of Directors, recognizing an individual for lifetime achievement and significant contributions to the public understanding of science.

The annual Roy L. Shafer Leading Edge Awards (sponsored by Hands On! Inc.) were presented to two institutions and one individual. Sciencenter, Ithaca, New York, was honored in the Business Practice Category; Science Alive! The New Zealand Science Centre, Christchurch, was recognized in the Visitor Experience Category; and Asger Høeg, executive director of Experimentarium in Hellerup, Denmark, received the award for Experienced Leadership in the Field. Read more about this year’s recipients at

ASTC’s Board of Directors voted earlier this year to recognize Dr. Gunther von Hagens for lifetime achievement and significant contributions to the public understanding of science. Through the technique of Plastination, and the BODY WORLDS exhibitions, von Hagens has revealed the intricate architecture and systems of the human body and allowed us to see that our bodies are at least as beautiful under the surface as they are from outside. In the tradition of the great anatomists, he made the study of the human body accessible to the public audience, without requiring medical training. Throughout the world, millions of science center visitors have viewed these exhibitions and been inspired, curious, touched, and forever changed.

The ASTC Fellow Award, the Association’s highest honor, was presented to Jeffrey N. Rudolph, president and CEO of the California Science Center. The text of Rudolph’s Fellow Award read:

For not only transforming the California Science Center into a premier institution, but for providing exemplary leadership to ASTC as President, developing a strategic planning process to help guide the Association’s future. During his years of service, Jeff has exemplified collaboration and displayed a good-natured collegiality and willingness to serve not just his science center, but the entire field. His impact on ASTC and STEM education has been profound.

An interview with Rudolph appears in the November/December issue of ASTC’s Dimensions magazine. Visit for more information.

ASTC congratulates all of these worthy award winners, and acknowledges the work of the Roy L. Shafer Leading Edge Award Jury, as well as ASTC’s Nominating Committee, for identifying these honorees.

NCSE Executive Director Eugenie Scott opens ASTC 2013

October 20th, 2013 - Posted in ASTC News, Annual Conference, Featured by Larry Hoffer

ASTC’s 2013 Annual Conference officially began Saturday, October 19. The executive directors of the three host institutions—Jim Walther, National Museum of Nuclear Science and History; Joe Hastings, Explora; and Charlie Walter, New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, greeted attendees and shared that this first-ever collaboration among three museums to host ASTC’s conference promised “three times the welcome, three times the learning, and three times the fun.”

Following welcomes from New Mexico Lieutenant Governor John Sanchez and Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry, Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), delivered the opening keynote address. She quickly won over the audience by proclaiming, “I am a sucker for science centers and museums.” (She later admitted to being a member of every science center in the San Francisco Bay Area.)

Scott discussed the NCSE’s battle against those entities which challenge the teaching of evolution and climate change by museums and other institutions, saying, “Science literacy is at risk.”

She shared the NCSE’s “Pillars of Creationism,” three tenets around which the battles against evolution and climate change are founded:

  • Evolution is a “theory in crisis,” the argument that scientists no longer believe in evolution
  • Evolution and faith are incompatible
  • To be “fair,” teachers should teach both evolution and creationism, thus avoiding critical thinking and dogma

Scott advised audience members that theories of creationism and intelligent design haven’t earned the right to be presented in science centers and museums. “Your job is to present and interpret science, not to produce science.” She said that the burden of proof is on those espousing creationism, not those teaching the scientifically reinforced theory of evolution.

“Science is not a democratic procedure. We don’t vote on how the natural world operates.” She concluded by saying that if the consensus of scientists eventually disprove evolution, then and only then should museums teach creationism. But until then, she reminded the audience that, “Science isn’t an aspect of listening to all views; we listen to those that work.”

Welcome to Albuquerque!

October 19th, 2013 - Posted in ASTC News, Annual Conference, Featured by Larry Hoffer

 More than 1,600 attendees (with more to come) representing 43 countries across the globe have gathered in Albuquerque, New Mexico for the start of the 2013 ASTC Annual Conference, hosted by Explora, the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History, and the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science.

With over 100 sessions and workshops; and keynote presentations featuring Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education (on Saturday), Ramu Damodaran, deputy director for partnerships and public engagement for the United Nations’ Outreach Division (on Sunday), and a conversation with best-selling author Neal Stephenson, Ed Finn, director of Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination, and Alexander Zwissler, executive director and CEO of Chabot Space and Science Center; as well as numerous networking opportunities, ASTC 2013 promises to be an exceptional professional development opportunity for the global science center community.

Whether on-site or from afar, ASTC invites you to follow the 2013 Annual Conference online. Follow us on Twitter (@sciencecenters), and join in the conversation using hashtag #astc2013. Photos and videos will also be posted on Instagram (follow @sciencecenters and post your own using #astc2013), and on our ASTCvideos YouTube channel. The ASTC Conference Blog will also be updated Saturday through Tuesday.

ASTC Connect Forum on Attendance Trends: June 18-20

June 12th, 2013 - Posted in ASTC Connect, Featured by Christine Ruffo

What factors have contributed to attendance patterns in recent years, and what might we expect in years to come?

From June 18-20, ASTC Connect will host an online forum entitled Attendance Trends: 10 Years Past and Into the Future, moderated by the ASTC Research Advisors Group. The forum will look at science center attendance trends over the past 10 years, identify internal and external factors that impact attendance, and discuss “next steps” that can be taken by centers to grow attendance.

To join the forum, go to ASTC Connect at, log in to your account, click “All Courses,” and select “Attendance Trends” to join. Don’t have an ASTC Connect account? Click on the “Create New Account” button on the login page and follow the simple instructions.

For more information, please contact Christine Ruffo, ASTC Research Manager.

Boston Children’s Museum, Discovery Science Center receive National Medal

May 3rd, 2013 - Posted in Featured, Member News by Larry Hoffer

IMLS National Medal for Museum and Library ServiceWhen the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) announced the 10 recipients of this year’s National Medal for Museum and Library Service, two ASTC-member institutions—Boston Children’s Museum, Massachusetts and Discovery Science Center, Santa Ana, California—were among those recognized.

The National Medal is the nation’s highest honor conferred on museums and libraries for service to the community, and celebrates institutions that make a difference for individuals, families, and communities. Medal winners were selected from nationwide nominations of institutions that demonstrate innovative approaches to public service, exceeding the expected levels of community outreach.

Boston Children’s Museum is one of the oldest and largest children’s museums in the world, pioneering hands-on exhibitions and visitor-focused experiences that put children in charge of their own learning. It first opened its doors in 1913. Today, the museum is partnering across the community to address school achievement gaps that disproportionately affect Boston’s black and Hispanic children and strengthening science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programming. Boston Children’s Museum also proudly participates in the Let’s Move! Museums & Gardens Initiative.

“We are thrilled to receive the National Medal, and especially pleased to do so in our Centennial year. As the only Boston museum defined by its audience–children and families–our spaces connect the stories of parents and teachers, grandparents and teens, policymakers and innovators. For 100 years, we have advocated for the enduring value of play, and its link to the mental, physical, and emotional health of children,” said Carole Charnow, president & CEO of the Boston Children’s Museum. “Our multi-faceted exhibits and programs introduce children and families to transformational experiences and new ideas in science and technology, health and wellness, arts and humanities, and global cultures. We are grateful to the IMLS for this distinguished award and look forward to building upon our legacy by continuing to promote the health and education of all children so that they will reach their full potential and contribute to our collective wellbeing.”

Discovery Science Center (DSC) has brought science education to vast audiences over the last 25 years through its Santa Ana facility and a soon to open Los Angeles museum. With a dynamic outreach program and state-of-the-art exhibits, the DSC team has led the way in creating innovative museum exhibitions and classroom programs. By blending hands-on science activities, immersive environments, game design, and role playing, DSC is modernizing how educational content is delivered to families and students. The award-winning Eco Challenge exhibit at DSC utilizes these unique, immersive experiences to encourage environmentally responsible behavior among their community. DSC also proudly participates in the Let’s Move! Museums & Gardens initiative.

Patronage of DSC programs has more than tripled over the last decade and in the last year alone, programs impacted over 739,000 visitors and students throughout the Southern California region. Their outreach program in schools is among the largest in the nation. Its education initiatives are in 650 schools and 27 school districts across Southern California and include 71,000 field trip students who visit the Taco Bell Discovery Science Center every year.

“The National Medal shows that a museum’s impact can go beyond the walls of a single location and bring education to hundreds of thousands of students in classrooms along with satellite locations,” said Joe Adams, president of Discovery Science Center. “This Award celebrates and recognizes the hard work and dedication of our team and community leaders towards delivering a mission that is not measured in dollars, but measured in the hearts, minds, and actions of eager learners. We see this award as a challenge to continue to teach through innovation extending past museum norms, finding partners that align to our mission, and connecting to young minds.”

In addition to Boston Children’s Museum and the Discovery Science Center, this year’s National Medal recipients were: Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio; Delta Blues Museum, Clarksdale, Mississippi; Marshalltown Public Library, Iowa; National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library, Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Pierce County Library System, Tacoma, Washington; Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, Ohio; Rancho Cucamonga Public Library, California; Waukegan Public Library, Illinois.

The National Medal will be presented during a celebration in Washington, D.C. on May 8. For more information on the Medal and this year’s winners, visit, and to see a video about the winners produced by HISTORY for IMLS, visit

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