Science Centers: Powering STEM Learning

May 15th, 2014 - Posted in Events, Partners by Mary Mathias

Exhibits, student support programs, teacher professional development, community outreach, community anchoring, public awareness, driving creativity and innovation, strong STEM learning platforms, afterschool activities — these are some of the many ways that science centers and museums are impacting their communities in today’s world.

STEMconnector and ASTC hosted the virtual town hall “Science Centers: Powering STEM Learning” on May 14. This informative online panel featured leaders of some of the most innovative science centers and museums in the United States who addressed the role of science centers in our world today. Speakers included:

» Anthony “Bud” Rock, President and CEO, ASTC
» Ron Baillie, Co-Director, Carnegie Science Center
» Matt Fleury, President and CEO, Connecticut Science Center
» David E. Chesebrough, President & CEO, COSI
» Joanna Haas, Executive Director, Kentucky Science Center
» Paul Fontaine, VP of Education, Museum of Science, Boston
» Emlyn Koster, Director, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
» Bryce Seidl, President and CEO, Pacific Science Center

Watch the town hall below to hear about the work the panelists are doing in their own museums and their thoughts on the future of the field. Download the slides from the presentation here.



Guest Post: Engaging community partners through Lights On Afterschool

August 26th, 2013 - Posted in Partners by Mary Mathias

This guest post was written by the Afterschool Alliance.

As the summer comes to a close and children across the country begin a new school year, the enrichment opportunities available to those children will vary dramatically. Some will engage in hands-on activities at their local museum, science center or afterschool program that spark an interest in STEM fields. Too many, however, will miss out. More than 15 million of them will take care of themselves after the school day ends and will not have the chance to participate in programs that help make learning exciting.

This is why more than one million Americans and thousands of communities participate in Lights On Afterschool, an annual event that helps to raise awareness about the need for programs that keep kids safe, inspire them to learn and help working families. Supporters of Lights On Afterschool believe that schools can’t do it alone and that meaningful, active collaboration with out-of-school programs is critical. We know that access to an array of quality, informal STEM learning opportunities can make a huge difference in the lives of youth. We also know that strong partnerships between informal learning institutions can help to maximize the use of shared resources and foster creative solutions to community needs. Lights On Afterschool events can help showcase program offerings and deepen ties between informal learning institutions and community organizations.

The Afterschool Alliance is proud to be partnering with the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) again this October to highlight the important role of science centers and museums. In past years, we’ve been thrilled to have participation from museums and science centers around the country, such as the Carnegie Science Center. During their Lights On Afterschool event, Carnegie held a joint celebration with the Allegheny Partners for Out-of-School Time (APOST) which included reduced admission for afterschool youth and a provider fair to showcase local programs. Other events have included partnerships between the Pacific Science Center / Schools Out Washington and the Columbus Center for Science and Industry / YMCA of Central Ohio.

Interested in participating in Lights On Afterschool? Here’s how you can get involved:

Register
Hosting a Lights On Afterschool event is a great way to raise awareness in your community about the benefits that your science center or museum provides to youth. Events can be as small or as large as you like; use them as an opportunity to build relationships with parents, elected leaders, and community partners. Registered events will receive 10 free Lights On Afterschool posters in the mail and will be eligible for a chance to win cool prizes.

Get Inspired
If you would like to host an event at your museum or science center, but aren’t sure what to do, the Lights On Afterschool event planning kit can help you find bright ideas for getting started. You’ll find sample materials, planning checklists, case studies, and a host of other resources to help make your event a success.

Partner
If you aren’t able to host your own event, use Lights On Afterschool as an opportunity to reach out to local afterschool programs. Our Find An Event tool can help you search for events and potential partners.

Whether you host a joint celebration or simply schedule a site visit, Lights On Afterschool is a great time to start a conversation with local afterschool programs about how you might partner to better serve youth in your community.

Afterschool Programs and Science Centers Partnering To Serve Youth

August 12th, 2013 - Posted in Partners, Professional Development, Resources by Mary Mathias

ASTC recently partnered with the Afterschool Alliance to explore and promote STEM in afterschool programming. On August 8, 2013, we presented a webinar on how afterschool programs and science centers can work together. You can view the webinar in its entirety here:

Afterschool Programs and Science Centers Partnering to Serve Youth from ASTC Professional Development on Vimeo.

Are you interested in afterschool programs, but unsure how to connect with programs in your community? The first step is to contact your state afterschool network. Websites of the state afterschool networks may have information on local programs, funding opportunities, and other resources. Some networks are actively engaged in elevating the levels of science their state through the collaborative effort, Project Liftoff. You can also contact the Afterschool Alliance’s Afterschool Ambassadors, who are experienced practitioners and advocates of afterschool. Ambassadors in your state are listed among the “Afterschool Champions” on the Afterschool in Your State webpage.

Don’t see an afterschool network in your state? If you are located in Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, or Tennessee, there is not currently a C.S. Mott-funded statewide afterschool network. Alaska will soon have a network. For all of the above states, check the Afterschool in Your State webpage. Listed at the bottom is a state-level contact that will be knowledgeable about afterschool in your state. There may also be Afterschool Ambassadors who can help you connect to the afterschool field and find local programs (listed in the “Afterschool Champions” section).

Here are some additional resources, courtesy of the Afterschool Alliance:


The report,
Defining Youth Outcomes for STEM Learning Afterschool, concludes a 10-month study that asked experienced afterschool providers and supporters to identify appropriate and feasible outcomes. Study participants identified a consensus on outcomes, indicators and sub-indicators that provide a framework to map how afterschool programs contribute to larger STEM education goals. Find more Afterschool Alliance publications as well as research on STEM and afterschool on their Publications page.




Lights On Afterschool
October 17, 2013

Lights On Afterschool is the only nationwide event celebrating afterschool programs and their important role in the lives of children, families and communities. The effort generates strong partner visibility and has become a hallmark of the afterschool movement. Last year, a record of 10,000 events brought together more than one million Americans.

Lights On Afterschool events, like afterschool programs themselves, come in all shapes and sizes. From an open house to a rally of thousands, from a community parade to a week-long celebration across the state, Lights On Afterschool brings kids, families and communities together in support of afterschool programs.

Interested in Making?

As part of the Summer of Making and Connecting, the Afterschool Alliance is facilitating a three-part webinar series for formal and informal education leaders interested in leveraging the power of making to expand access to educational opportunities that engage, excite and inspire youth. The concluding webinar in the series will focus on strategies for increasing the quantity and quality of maker programs at the city and state level. The previous two webinars are available on the archives page.


Build, Create and Innovate: Expanding Access to Maker Programs
Thursday, Aug 29, 2013
12:00 PM EDT
Register here

Guest speakers from the California Department of Education, the Idaho Commission for Libraries and the New York Hall of Science will discuss some of the efforts currently under way to create a learning revolution in rural and urban communities across the country.

  • David Wells, New York Hall of Science

  • Erica Compton, Idaho Commission for Libraries
  • Johannes Troost, California Department of Education
  • Kamila Thigpen, Afterschool Alliance

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.

© Association of Science - Technology Centers Incorporated