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.

Join the 3D Systems MakerLab Club

October 6th, 2014 - Posted in Partners by Mary Mathias

3D Systems, in collaboration with ASTC, is committed to expanding young people’s access to 21st century tools like 3D design, 3D scanning, and 3D printing.

The MakerLab Club is a community of U.S. science centers, museums, and libraries working to bring 3D printing and 21st century tools and programs to the public, through dedicated equipment, workshops, and public access.

3D Systems will donate 3D printers to museums and science centers across the country that join the MakerLab Club and establish access to 3D printing and design opportunities for their communities. 3D Systems is supporting ASTC members by providing donated printers to members that are committed to building or expanding 3D printing opportunities.

Apply to be part of the MakerLab Club here. Applications will be accepted until November 17, 2014.

Donated printers will be allocated on a competitive basis.

Eligibility and Membership Requirements
Membership is available to science centers, museums, and libraries committed to creating or expanding makerlabs and/or makerspaces and providing community access to 3D printers and digital design.

Maker Lab Club Benefits

  • Up to four (4) donated Cube 3D printers
  • Regular access to workshop curricula and content
  • Exclusive equipment discounts and opportunities to win free hardware and software
  • Training webinars
  • Participation in communities of practice and access to best practices

Learn more at www.3dsystems.com/education/partnersandresources/makerlab-club, or visit 3D Systems at Booth #915 at the ASTC Conference in Raleigh next week.

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

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.

Youth Representatives Visit Capitol Hill to Advocate for Afterschool Programs

May 28th, 2014 - Posted in Events, Partners by Mary Mathias

On Thursday, May 22, 2014, youth representatives from museum programs met with Members of Congress to advocate for afterschool programs as part of the Afterschool Alliance’s Afterschool for All Challenge. Held as part of the Afterschool Alliance’s National Network Meeting, the Afterschool for All Challenge “[provided] unique networking and professional development opportunities that empower participants to become informed, capable afterschool advocates of all ages.” Participants were sent to Capitol Hill to advocate for the Afterschool for America’s Children Act as part of the 21st Century Learning Centers initiative (S. 326 in the Senate and HR 4086 in the House of Representatives).

The teenage representatives traveled to Washington, DC from the New Jersey Academy of Aquatic Sciences in Camden, the Newark Museum in Newark, New Jersey, The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland, and the Natural History Museum of Utah in Salt Lake City.

The whole gang!

The teens started with a day of advocacy training on May 21 as part of the conference. They ended the day with additional preparation over pizza at the ASTC office, which gave them an opportunity to meet the rest of the youth participants and learn about the programs at other institutions.

Pizza Party

The groups were up early the next morning for the Breakfast of Champions, which honored leading advocates and practitioners in afterschool programs. Then it was off to Capitol Hill for meetings in the offices of Members of Congress from each group’s home state. Overall, the reaction from both the teens and the staffers with whom they met was enthusiastic, and all parted in high spirits, satisfied that they had made an excellent case for afterschool programs.


Over the next few weeks, the participating ASTC programs will be posting guest entries about their experiences here on the ASTC blog, so stay tuned!

Photos by Mary Mathias 

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