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.

Noyce Leadership Institute’s third cohort begins

April 30th, 2010 - Posted in ASTC News, Partners by Christine Ruffo

This month marks a big transition for the Noyce Leadership Institute as the second cohort wraps up its final retreat and the third prepares for its first face-to-face meeting. The second cohort’s Capstone Retreat, held April 21–24 in the Washington, D.C. area, offered an opportunity for the participants to reflect on the future of their leadership and the role of their centers in the evolution of their communities and the science center field. The event featured group presentations by the 2009–2010 Fellows, which were attended by representatives from ASTC, the Noyce Foundation, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the American Association of Museums, the Association of Children’s Museums, and the National Science Foundation.

The start of the third cohort of NLI Fellows marks a distinct change in the program’s format. In contrast to prior cohorts that focused on CEOs, the 2010–2011 cohort includes senior managers inside and outside the field with the passion and potential to work as a CEO, COO, or another senior executive position within a science center or children’s museum. After a competitive application process, 18 participants were selected in February. The Fellows began meeting via audio conference in March, and will meet for their Opening Retreat in San Diego, California, May 15–23.

About the image: Ronen Mir, general director, MadaTech, Haifa, Israel, and Margie Marino, executive director, North Museum of Natural History, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, brainstorm ways to engage new audiences in their centers during Cohort 2’s Capstone Retreat. Photo by Jennifer Zoffel

Surrounded by Science

March 8th, 2010 - Posted in Featured, Partners by Christine Ruffo

On March 3–5, the Center for Advancement of Informal Science Education (CAISE), with support from the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), hosted the biennial Informal Science Education (ISE) Summit in Washington, D.C. The nearly 450 participants in the ISE Summit—which took the theme “Surrounded by Science”—included principal investigators of NSF grants and others engaged in strategic issues that cut across the informal science education field.

“Informal science education reaches millions of people every year in out-of-school settings with an extraordinary array of opportunities to explore, discover, and learn,” said Wendy Pollock, director of CAISE. “This is our opportunity to celebrate our work, explore emerging issues, and strengthen connections across the informal science education community.”

Summit plenary speakers included Tom Kalil, deputy director for policy at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist, director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York City, and host of NOVA scienceNOW; and Bruce Lewenstein, professor of science communication at Cornell University and co-chair of a U.S. National Research Council (NRC) Committee that produced a 2009 consensus report Learning Science in Informal Environments: People, Places, and Pursuits.

Building on the momentum from the NRC report, CAISE initiated a nationwide effort to focus attention on critical issues impacting the informal science education community. They included the infrastructure that supports science learning outside of school, the policies that support and constrain opportunities in informal science education, and the nature of the learning that results across the lifespan. The results of these special Inquiry Groups were unveiled at the conference, and attendees were encouraged to participate in robust discussions and provide direction for the 21st century.

“We are just now developing a critical mass of evidence about how people learn through informal experience,” said Kevin Crowley, CAISE co–principal investigator and co-leader of the CAISE Learning Inquiry Group. “We are seeing exciting new theories about the ways that knowledge, skills, interest, and motivation can keep citizens engaged as science learners across the lifespan. There is great potential for strong research/practice collaborations across the spectrum of informal science education, and we hope the ISE Summit will catalyze continued innovation in the field.”

Other events included a luncheon on Friday, where several federal agencies highlighted collaborative efforts and underscored their ongoing support of informal science education, and the unveiling of Surrounded by Science: Learning Science in Informal Environments, a new book published by the NRC that builds on the findings of the 2009 report and supports the essential role of informal science education.

About the image: Tom Kalil, deputy director for policy at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, speaks at the CAISE Summit opening plenary. Photo by Christine Ruffo

Discovering Engineering

February 22nd, 2010 - Posted in Featured, Member News, Partners by Christine Ruffo

On February 20, over 5,000 visitors flocked to the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., for Discover Engineering Family Day. The celebration featured dozens of interactive activities, from building gumdrop geodomes to experimenting with natural and nano-manufactured materials that show properties like water resistance. The activities were provided by local engineering chapters, national organizations, and museums, including the Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network (NISENet) and the National Children’s Museum, Washington, D.C. The event also included a presentation by U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) astronaut Anna Lee Fisher.

Discover Engineering Family Day marked the end of this year’s Engineers Week, a global annual celebration presented by the National Engineers Week Foundation to raise public understanding and appreciation of engineers’ contributions to society. Other events included Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day and the finals for the Future City Competition.

About the image: The National Children’s Museum, Washington, D.C.,  presents Builder Bill and the Bewildering Bucket at Discover Engineering Family Day. Bill (also known as Matt Baldoni) shows kids how to construct a museum with pulleys, levers, and all sorts of machines. Photo by Christine Ruffo

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