New grants help museums and libraries connect youth with friends, learning, and mentors to link their passions to future success

November 8th, 2012 - Posted in ASTC News, Featured, Member News, Partners by Larry Hoffer

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation today announced the second round of winners of a national competition to design 21st century Learning Labs in museums and libraries around the country. The 12 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.

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.

“Digital media are revolutionizing the way young people learn, socialize, and engage in civic life,” said Julia Stasch, Vice President of U.S. Programs for the MacArthur Foundation. “These innovative labs are designed to provide today’s youth with the space, relationships, and resources to connect their social worlds and interests with academics, and to better prepare them for success in the 21st century.”

“Because of the expertise and content we have to offer, museums and libraries are uniquely positioned to offer young people meaningful learning experiences that link to science, art, and technology,” said Susan Hildreth, Director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services. “With caring mentors and skilled professionals on staff to guide teens in their exploration, Learning Labs help youth express themselves and hone their skills in a safe environment.”

The new Learning Labs are planned for: Dallas, TX; Madison, WI; Rochester, NY; Oakland, CA; Billings, MT; Poughkeepsie, NY; Tucson, AZ; Richmond, VA; Tuscaloosa, AL; Pittsburgh, PA; Lynn, MA; and Las Vegas, NV. Each of the winning institutions will match funds from the competition and is developing partnerships with local educational, cultural, civic and business organizations to expand the resources available to build a network of learning opportunities for young people.

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.

Urban Libraries Council (ULC) and the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) will continue to manage and guide the Learning Lab grantee community to ensure that each new space embodies best practice principles, based on research and evidence in the field of youth digital learning, to help young people gain 21st century skills and an effective STEM education.

The 12 recipients of this round of grants were selected out of a pool of 105 applicants from 33 states and one territory. Applications were evaluated by professionals with relevant expertise in digital media and learning, as well as museum and library management. Winners will participate—in-person and online—in a community of practice that will provide technical assistance, networking, and cross-project learning. To learn more about the Learning Labs Project, visit www.imls.gov or Youmedia.org.

Institutions receiving grants in this round are: Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX; Madison Children’s Museum, Madison, WI; The Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California, Berkeley; Science Museum of Virginia Foundation, Richmond; University of Alabama/Alabama Museum of Natural History, Tuscaloosa; Rochester Public Library, Rochester, NY; Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA; City of Lynn, Massachusetts (Lynn Public Library); Las Vegas-Clark County Library District, Las Vegas, NV; Parmly Billings Library Foundation, Inc., Billings, MT; Pima County Public Library, Tucson, AZ; and Poughkeepsie Public Library District, Poughkeepsie, NY.

About the Institute of Museum and Library Services
The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. Our mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Our grantmaking, policy development and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov or follow @US_IMLS on Twitter.

About the MacArthur Foundation’s Digital Media and Learning Initiative
The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation supports creative people and effective institutions committed to building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. In addition to selecting the MacArthur Fellows, the Foundation works to defend human rights, advance global conservation and security, make cities better places, and understand how technology is affecting children and society. The Foundation’s digital media and learning initiative aims to determine how digital media are changing the way young people learn, play, socialize, and participate in civic life. The goal is to build a base of evidence about how young people learn today, in an effort to re-imagine learning in the 21st century. To learn more, please visit: www.macfound.org/learning or follow us on Twitter @macfound.

About the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC)
The Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) is a global organization providing collective voice and professional support for science centers, museums, and related institutions, whose innovative approaches to science learning inspire people of all ages about the wonders and the meaning of science in their lives. Through strategic alliances and global partnerships, ASTC strives to increase awareness of the valuable contributions its members make to their communities and the field of informal STEM learning. Founded in 1973, ASTC now represents over 600 members in 45 countries, including not only science centers and museums, but also nature centers, aquariums, planetariums, zoos, botanical gardens, and natural history and children’s museums, as well as companies, consultants, and other organizations that share an interest in informal science education. For more information on ASTC, or to find a science center near you, please visit www.astc.org or follow us on Twitter @sciencecenters.

About the Urban Libraries Council
Urban Libraries Council (ULC) is a membership organization made up of North America’s premier public library systems and the corporations supporting them. While ULC’s members primarily represent urban and suburban settings, the work done by ULC is widely used by all libraries including those in rural settings. ULC strategically addresses issues important to all communities including education, workforce and economic development, public safety, environmental sustainability, health, and wellness. ULC’s members are thought leaders dedicated to the continuous evolution and strengthening of libraries to meet changing community needs. ULC’s focus is on helping library leaders develop and utilize skills and strategies that match the challenges of the 21st century. Learn more at www.urbanlibraries.org or follow us on Twitter @UrbanLibCouncil.

NWP and ASTC Receive NSF Grant to Develop Integrated Science and Literacy Program

October 9th, 2012 - Posted in ASTC News, Featured, Member News, Partners, Professional Development by Larry Hoffer

The National Writing Project (NWP) and the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) have received a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to design a program that will integrate science and literacy. As part of this program, Building Informal Science Education and Literacy Partnerships (NSF Grant No. 122461),NWP sites and ASTC-member science centers and museums will forge partnerships to develop innovative programs for educators and youth.

This grant was created to address the critical need for more programming that integrates two very important areas of curriculum – science and literacy,with a strong commitment to expanding access to high quality science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and literacy education. The NWP/ASTC partnership will foster the creation of new program models able to reach a more diverse range of youth and educators, resulting in an infusion of literacy practices in informal settings as well as increased exposure of formal educators to STEM-rich learning experiences.The program will build on recommendations in the Common Core State Standards and the National Research Council’s publication, “A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts and Core Ideas.”

Ten partnerships from across the country will be selected in the coming months with the goal of creating new programs that merge science and writing, as well as building on promising practices and innovations. Partnerships will design projects which may include citizen science projects like The Great Sunflower Project or FoldIt, or science journalism projects such as scijourner, an NSF-funded project based at the University of Missouri-St. Louis College of Education, in collaboration with the Saint Louis Science Center and the Normandy School District.

“Both NWP and ASTC share a long history of working with educators and youth,” said Dr. Sharon J. Washington, NWP Executive Director. “The collaboration of these organizations will generate a multitude of professional development programs for hundreds of informal and formal educators, as well as create rich opportunities for hundreds of young people across the country.”

“We are tremendously energized by the opportunities for collaboration that this project presents,” remarked ASTC Chief Executive Officer Anthony (Bud) Rock. “ASTC-member science centers have a long history of developing programs to target underserved youth, and partnering with NWP sites will foster a greater ability to reach those youth who might develop an interest in STEM through participation in literacy activities. The science center community will truly benefit from the results of this project.”

About NWP:The National Writing Project (NWP) is a nationwide network of educators working together to improve the teaching of writing in the nation’s schools and in other settings. NWP provides high-quality professional development programs to teachers in a variety of disciplines and at all levels, from early childhood through university. Through its nearly 200 university-based sites located in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the National Writing Project develops the leadership, programs, and research needed for teachers to help students become successful writers and learners. For more information, visit www.nwp.org.

About ASTC: The Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) is a global organization providing collective voice and professional support for science centers, museums, and related institutions, whose innovative approaches to science learning inspire people of all ages about the wonders and the meaning of science in their lives.Through strategic alliances and global partnerships, ASTC strives to increase awareness of the valuable contributions its members make to their communities and the field of informal STEM learning.Founded in 1973, ASTC now represents over 600 members in nearly 50 countries, including not only science centers and museums,but also nature centers, aquariums, planetariums,zoos, botanical gardens, and natural history and children’s museums, as well as companies, consultants, and other organizations that share an interest in informal science education. For more information about ASTC, or to find a science center near you, visit www.astc.org.

National Competition Selects 12 Libraries and Museums to Build Innovative Learning Labs for Teens

November 17th, 2011 - Posted in ASTC News, Featured, Member News, Partners by Larry Hoffer

Today,the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation announced the first 12 winners of a national competition to build 21st Century learning labs in museums and libraries around the country. The winners—four museums and eight libraries—will receive a total of $1.2 million in grants to plan and design the labs. Inspired by YOUMedia, a new 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.

“This competition was announced in answer to President Obama’s Educate to Innovate campaign, a nationwide effort to bring American students to the forefront in science and math, to provide the workers of tomorrow with the skills they need today,” said Susan Hildreth, Director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services. “Libraries and museums are part of re-envisioning learning in the 21st century; they are trusted community institutions where teens can follow their passions and imagine exciting futures.”

“Digital media are profoundly influencing young people’s lives, their behavior, their civic participation, and where and how they learn,” said Robert Gallucci, President of the MacArthur Foundation. “These innovative new teen labs are designed to provide young people with engaging and diverse opportunities for learning and exploration beyond the classroom. The nation’s libraries and museums play an important role in leveling the playing field by providing greater access to learning experiences that equip our young people with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the 21st Century.”

“Digital media are profoundly influencing young people’s lives, their behavior, their civic participation, and where and how they learn,” said Robert Gallucci, President of the MacArthur Foundation. “These innovative new teen labs are designed to provide young people with engaging and diverse opportunities for learning and exploration beyond the classroom. The nation’s libraries and museums play an important role in leveling the playing field by providing greater access to learning experiences that equip our young people with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the 21st Century.”

Locations for the 12 new learning labs include: San Francisco, CA; Thornton, CO; Columbia, MD; St. Paul, MN; Kansas City, MO; New York, NY; Columbus, OH; Portland, OR; Allentown, PA; Philadelphia, PA; Nashville, TN; and Houston, TX.

The learning labs will be based on new research about how young people learn today. Teens will use both digital and traditional media that promote creativity, critical thinking, and hands-on learning. The labs will connect teens to mentors and peers, as well as anytime, anywhere access to informationthrough online social networks so that they can pursue their interests more deeply. The winning institutions will match the funds from the competition and partner with local educational, cultural, and civic organizations to build a network of learning opportunities for young people.

IMLS and MacArthur selected the Urban Libraries Council (ULC) and the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) to manage the competition. They will ensure the new lab locations use best practice principles, based on research and evidence in the field of youth digital learning, to help young people gain 21st century skills and an effective STEM education.

The 12 recipients of this round of grants were selected out of a pool of 98 applicants from 32 states. Applications were evaluated by professionals with relevant expertise in digital media and learning and museum and library management. Winners will participate—in-person and online—in a community of practice that will provide technical assistance, networking, and cross-project learning. Application materials for a second round of grants will be available in spring 2012. More information is available at www.imls.gov.

Click here to view the list of locations that have been selected as part of the first round of a national competition to plan and design 21st Century learning labs in libraries and museums around the country.

About the Institute of Museum and Library Services
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The Institute’s mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas. The Institute works at the national level and in coordination with state and local organizations to sustain heritage, culture, and knowledge; enhance learning and innovation; and support professional development. To learn more about the Institute, please visit www.imls.gov.

About the MacArthur Foundation’s Digital Media and Learning Initiative
The MacArthur Foundation supports creative people and effective institutions committed to building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. In addition to selecting the MacArthur Fellows, the Foundation works to defend human rights, advance global conservation and security, make cities better places, and understand how technology is affecting children and society. The Foundation’s digital media and learning initiative aims to determine how digital media are changing the way young people learn, play, socialize, and participate in civic life. The goal is to build a base of evidence about how young people learn today, in an effort to re-imagine learning in the 21st century. More information is available at www.macfound.org/learning.

About the Association of Science-Technology Centers
The Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) is a global nonprofit organization of science centers and museums committed to raising public understanding of science’s role in solving critical societal issues, and its value in igniting and nurturing the innovative spirit that people of all ages need for success in today’s world. ASTC encourages excellence and innovation in informal science learning by serving and linking its members worldwide and advancing their common goals. Founded in 1973, ASTC’s nearly 600 members in 44 countries include not only science centers and museums, but also nature centers, aquariums, planetariums, space centers, zoos, botanical gardens, and natural history and children’s museums, as well as companies, consultants, and other organizations that share an interest in informal science education. Visit www.astc.org to learn more about ASTC and find a science center near you.

About the Urban Libraries Council
Urban Libraries Council (ULC) is a membership organization made up of North America’s premier public library systems and the corporations supporting them. While ULC’s members primarily represent urban and suburban settings, the work done by ULC is widely used by all libraries including those in rural settings. ULC strategically addresses issues important to all communities including education, workforce and economic development, public safety, environmental sustainability, health, and wellness. ULC’s members are thought leaders dedicated to the continuous evolution and strengthening of libraries to meet changing community needs. As ULC celebrates its forty-year anniversary, its work focuses on helping library leaders develop and utilize skills and strategies that match the challenges of the 21st century. Learn more at www.urbanlibraries.org.

ASTC and ULC to partner in youth Learning Labs initiative funded by IMLS, MacArthur

May 19th, 2011 - Posted in ASTC News, Featured, Partners by Margaret Glass

The ASTC and the Urban Libraries Council (ULC) have announced a partnership to manage a new Learning Labs project supported through $4 million in funding from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

“Science centers and museums are ideal places to engage and educate young people through new forms of media, and ASTC is honored to be chosen as a cooperating partner for such an exciting and important project,” said ASTC’s CEO Anthony (Bud) Rock. “This new undertaking nicely complements our presidentially-endorsed Youth Inspired Challenge initiative, as both will help expand the impact of science centers and museums to assist our young people to become the innovative and creative thinkers we need for the 21st century.”

ASTC and ULC will be responsible for supporting a network of Learning Labs that will use best practice principles, based on research and evidence in the field of youth digital learning, to engage youth in 21st century skills and effective STEM education. The Labs will be spaces for experimentation where young people explore traditional and digital media and use hands-on, interest-based learning to strengthen their creativity and critical thinking skills.

A Request for Proposals for the Learning Labs project will be issued to eligible library and museum applicants in June, and an August deadline is anticipated. Grants of up to $100,000 will be awarded for each Learning Lab, and awards will be announced by IMLS in October/November. This will be the first of two grant rounds; a second deadline will occur in April/May 2012. (Note that dates are subject to change.) Answers to frequently asked questions about the Learning Labs project are available at: www.imls.gov/pdf/MacArthurLabsFAQ.pdf.

Noyce Leadership Fellows announced

March 7th, 2011 - Posted in ASTC News, Member News, Partners by Christine Ruffo

On March 1, the Noyce Foundation, in collaboration ASTC and the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), announced the fourth cohort of Noyce Leadership Fellows.

Through their Fellowships, 18 senior level managers from science centers and related institutions will increase their capacity to lead effectively; to advance innovation in their institutions and communities; and to act as change agents at the crossroads of societal trends, global issues, and informal science. The Noyce Leadership Institute (NLI) provides access to knowledge, tools, best practices, and professional networks through a mix of face-to-face sessions, executive coaching, peer learning, and audio conferencing over a year, followed by ongoing Fellow alumni activities.

Primary funding for NLI comes from the Noyce Foundation, with additional support to date from IMLS, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and the David & Lucile Packard Foundation.

Congratulations to the 2011–2012 Fellows (in bold) and their Strategic Initiative Sponsors:

Jeff Barnhart, Lindy Hoyer, Omaha Children’s Museum, Nebraska
Marcie Benne, Ray Vandiver, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, Portland
• Dan Bird, Goéry Delacôte, At-Bristol, England, United Kingdom
Scott Carter, Ron Kagan, Detroit Zoological Society, Michigan
Greg DeFrancis, David Goudy, Montshire Museum of Science, Norwich, Vermont
Sean Duran, Gillian Thomas, Miami Science Museum, Florida
Andrea Durham, Paul Fontaine, Anne Cademenos, Museum of Science, Boston, Massachusetts
Amito Haarhuis, Michiel Buchel, Science Center NEMO, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Joan Hoge-North, Geoff Halfpenny, Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, Delaware
Eva Jonsson, Olle Nordberg, Teknikens Hus, Luleå, Sweden
Diane Perlov, Jeffrey Rudolph, California Science Center, Los Angeles
Gail Ringel, Carole Charnow, Boston Children’s Museum, Massachusetts
Tom Rockwell, Rob Semper, Exploratorium, San Francisco
Patricia Verheyden, Eric Jacquemyn, Technopolis, Mechelen, Belgium
Johannes Vogel, Sharon Ament, Natural History Museum, London, England, United Kingdom
Stacy Wakeford, Denise Amyot, Canada Science and Technology Museums Corporation, Ottawa, Ontario
Shari Werb, Cristián Samper, Claudine Brown, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
Karen Wise, Jane Pisano, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, California.

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