Two ASTC members honored at White House as “Champions of Change”

June 14th, 2013 - Posted in Member News by Mary Mathias

On Tuesday, June 11, the White House honored 12 people as museum and library “Champions of Change.” The museum honorees are providing powerful learning experiences, reaching young children and their families with early learning opportunities and offering exciting experiences for teens to develop skills in science, technology, engineering, and math. Two ASTC members were among those honored.

Elizabeth Babcock is Chief Public Engagement Officer and Roberts Dean of Education at the California Academy of Sciences. She oversees the creation and implementation of the museum’s exhibits and education programs, including developmental resources and engagement opportunities for teachers, youth, families, and adults. She leads a team of dedicated educators, designers, and biologists who deliver a variety of programs aimed at increasing scientific literacy, developing digital skills, communicating critical science topics, and inspiring public engagement both at the museum and in the Bay Area. The California Academy of Sciences is a partner in the emerging network of sites that offers digital learning experiences for youth in the program Learning Labs in Libraries and Museums, funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Cheryl McCallum, Director of Education, Children’s Museum of Houston, is dedicated to bringing innovative high quality museum programs to all children, with a special emphasis on reaching children from low income neighborhoods. Her team of staff and volunteers engage children and their families in a “Playground for Your Mind,” which reaches 800,000 visitors annually who design rockets and cars, test their fitness, and conduct experiments. She also leads a team of educators that serves another 250,000 people through outreach programs with libraries, schools, and community centers. McCallum helps parents to engage in fun, high-quality museum learning activities that support their role as a child’s first teacher. As part of a decade-long collaboration with Houston Public Library, McCallum recently directed the development of Family Literacy Involvement Program (, which made 2,280 activity kits available for loan to families through 34 Library branches in Houston. The program has been replicated in many other cities around the U.S.

The Champions of Change program was created as an opportunity for the White House to feature groups of Americans – individuals, businesses and organizations – who are doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities.

To learn more about the White House Champions of Change program and nominate a Champion, visit

Learning Labs team members attend White House Champions of Change award. Pictured from left to right are Jon Worona, Catherine Cormier, and Jennifer Collins, from the San Francisco Public Library, Carol Varney, Bay Area Video Coalition, and Elizabeth Babcock, California Academy of Sciences.

Space Science Institute Launches STAR_Net to Join Libraries with STEM Professionals

May 14th, 2013 - Posted in Member News, Resources by Mary Mathias

The National Center for Interactive Learning at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado has launched a website to bring science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programming to public libraries. STAR_Net, funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation, aims to connect professionals in the STEM fields with library staff members in order to share resources, create partnerships, and develop programs for local communities.

The project also has two traveling exhibits called Discover Earth: A Century of Change and Discover Tech: Engineers Make a World of Difference, each with accompanying educational programs and activities, plus training programs from librarians.

Interested museums, libraries, and individual professionals can add their information to STAR_Net’s directory, participate in forum discussions, and browse activities, resources, and webinars. Visit for more information.

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

Pacific Science Center, Bootheel Youth Museum, Long Island Children’s Museum among 2012 National Medal recipients

November 14th, 2012 - Posted in Featured, Member News by Larry Hoffer

ASTC members Pacific Science Center in Seattle, Washington; Bootheel Youth Museum in Malden, Missouri; and Long Island Children’s Museum in Garden City, New York, were among the 10 libraries and museums selected by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to receive the 2012 National Medal for Museum and Library Service. The National Medal is the nation’s highest honor for museums and libraries for extraordinary civic, educational, economic, environmental, and social contributions. Recipients must demonstrate innovative approaches to public service and community outreach.

“Museums and libraries serve as community anchors and this year’s winners—from urban North Miami to Naturita, Colorado, home to just 542 people—showcase the positive difference these institutions make for everyone. Innovative programs are teaching residents how to read late in life, inspiring children to dream, using technology to offer e-books on the go, and bridging cultural differences,” said Susan Hildreth, director, Institute of Museum and Library Services. “This year’s National Medal for Museum and Library Service recipients demonstrate the many ways libraries and museums build strong communities and provide opportunities for individual success.”

Pacific Science Center seeks to go beyond just teaching guests about science. In recognizing this institution, IMLS highlighted several programs and initiatives, including: the Portal to the Public program, which connects the public with cutting-edge science by training scientists to demonstrate and explain their research; Discovery Corps, which gets students excited about the world around them and teaches invaluable job and life skills; and Professor Wellbody’s Academy of Health & Science, which emphasizes not an accumulation of health facts but the impact of personal choices in building healthier lives.

The Bootheel Youth Museum (BYM) is located in a city with a population of 4,277, and has only three full-time and three part-time staff members, and some volunteers. Yet it entertains, educates, and inspires “insatiable curiosity” in 30,000 visitors each year. The museum combines sound science and a thirst for adventure with innovative exhibits like BYM Children’s Village, This Island Mars: A Space Adventure, and Making Tracks on the Lewis and Clark Trail.

The Long Island Children’s Museum delights more than 250,000 visitors annually with its hands-on exhibits and is a gathering place for the local community. It offers a wide range of programming to meet the needs of its diverse audience. Community focused initiatives provide kindergarten readiness programs to Spanish and Haitian Creole speaking immigrant families; share the Museum’s resources with teachers to engage their students in scientific inquiry; support families in crisis through strategies encouraging healthy parent and child interactions; and engage teens to teach “green” lessons to visitors in the Museum’s popular outdoor exhibit, Our Backyard.

The National Medal was created to celebrate the vital role museums and libraries play in American society, and is awarded to institutions that have developed innovative ways to serve their communities. In addition to the Pacific Science Center, Bootheel Youth Museum, and Long Island Children’s Museum, 2012 recipients included: Contra Costa County Library, Pleasant Hill, California; Cumberland County Public Library, Fayetteville, North Carolina; Garfield Park Conservatory, Chicago, Illinois; Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami, Florida; Naturita Community Library, Colorado; Park View High School Library Media Center, Sterling, Virginia; and Shaler North Hills Library, Glenshaw, Pennsylvania.

Medal winners are selected from nationwide nominations of institutions that demonstrate innovative approaches to public service, exceeding the expected levels of community outreach. The National Medal will be presented during a celebration later today in Washington, D.C.

To learn more about this year’s winners, visit

ASTC Update: Three ASTC members receive IMLS/MacArthur Learning Labs grant, four more to partner with awarded libraries

November 13th, 2012 - Posted in ASTC News, Featured, Member News, Professional Development by Larry Hoffer

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation announced November 8 that three ASTC-member institutions—the Lawrence Hall of Science, Berkeley, California; Madison Children’s Museum, Wisconsin; and the Science Museum of Virginia Foundation, Richmond—were among the second round of winners of a U.S.-wide competition to design 21st Century learning labs in museums and libraries around the country.

The winners—five museums and seven libraries—will receive a total of $1.2 million in grants to plan and design the labs. Inspired by YOUMedia, a teen space at the Chicago Public Library, and innovations in science and technology centers, these labs will help young people move beyond consuming content to making and creating it.

In addition to the three ASTC members that received Learning Labs grants, four additional ASTC members—Carnegie Science Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Las Vegas Natural History Museum, Nevada; Lied Discovery Children’s Museum, Las Vegas, Nevada; and Perot Museum of Nature and Science, Dallas, Texas—will partner with awarded libraries in their communities.

Each Learning Lab will be designed to facilitate a research-based education model known as connected learning–one that promotes discovery, creativity, critical thinking and real-world learning through activities and experiences that bring together academics and young people’s interests, often facilitated by digital and traditional media. The labs will connect teens to mentors and peers, as well as anytime, anywhere access to information through online social networks, so they can pursue their interests more deeply and connect these new skills to academics, career, and civic engagement.

ASTC CEO Anthony (Bud) Rock remarked, “We are very excited about the continued success of the Learning Labs program. Science centers and museums nurture the innovative spirit so crucially needed for success in today’s world, and using digital media to further ignite the excitement of our nation’s youth about lifelong STEM learning will ensure that future generations cultivate the skills they need, such as problem solving, creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration. The fact that three of the five museums named as grant recipients are science centers is an exciting testament to the strength of our field as an incubator of innovation in our communities.”

The 12 recipients of this round of grants were selected out of a pool of 105 applicants from 33 states. Applications were evaluated by professionals with relevant expertise in digital media and learning. Winners will participate—in-person and online—in a community of practice that will provide technical assistance, networking, and cross-project learning. In addition to the Lawrence Hall of Science, Madison Children’s Museum, and the Science Museum of Virginia Foundation, those institutions selected as grant recipients include: University of Alabama/Alabama Museum of Natural History, Tuscaloosa; Rochester Public Library, New York; City of Lynn, Massachusetts (Lynn Public Library); Las Vegas-Clark County Library District, Nevada; Parmly Billings Library Foundation, Inc., Billings, Montana; Pima County Public Library, Tucson, Arizona; and Poughkeepsie Public Library District, New York.

These grantees join 12 other communities also planning new learning centers in libraries and museums as a part of the Learning Labs in Libraries and Museums project. The initiative was first announced in September 2010 in response to President Obama’s “Educate to Innovate” campaign, an effort to foster cross-sector collaboration to improve America’s students’ participation and performance in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Since then, MacArthur and IMLS have committed to invest $4 million to support knowledge-sharing activities for museums and libraries nationwide, and work together to create new Learning Labs across the nation.

For more information about the Learning Labs project, visit or

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