Science Centers and Education Reform: Learning from the Connecticut Science Center

March 18th, 2014 - Posted in Events, Professional Development by Mary Mathias
Surveys conducted by the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) report that over 80% of science centers and museums in the United States play a vital role in teacher professional development in their communities. Today’s education landscape is changing — with the widespread adoption of Common Core Standards and a growing momentum behind the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and similar  reform efforts around integrated STEM curriculum. How are science centers best positioned in this changing learning ecosystem? Join ASTC and the Connecticut Science Center in Hartford, Connecticut on April 10, 2014, for a workshop geared toward CEOs and senior staff to explore new models and practices that will help science centers in their roles as essential community partners in STEM education.
Agenda topics include:
  • An introduction to the Connecticut Science Center’s Joyce D. and Andrew J. Mandell Academy for Teachers
  • A panel discussion with the Center’s education and corporate partners about how and why they are involved in the development of STEM programs
  • Strategies for positioning science centers as STEM education providers and partners

The workshop will be an excellent opportunity to collaborate with colleagues to build the strategies and connections necessary to strengthen and promote your educational efforts. The workshop begins with an informal group dinner at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 9, and runs from 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 10. A negotiated hotel rate will be available for overnight attendees.

Register by April 4 at the rate of $199 by clicking the Events tab at! For additional information, contact  Hotel information and a detailed agenda will be distributed after confirmation of registration.

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

ASTC Announces 2013 Diversity and Leadership Development Fellows

July 11th, 2013 - Posted in ASTC News, Professional Development by Mary Mathias

ASTC is pleased to announce the 2013 ASTC Diversity and Leadership Development Fellows. The Fellows are museum professionals from underrepresented groups, and will attend the 2013 ASTC Annual Conference to gain professional development experiences, a broader peer network, and the opportunity to acquire and hone their leadership skills. Thirteen new and five alumni fellows were chosen, representing one of the largest classes the program has seen since its 2001 launch.

This year’s class includes new Fellows:

  • Marcia Bueno- New York Hall of Science, Corona, NY
  • Michael Charles- Miami Science Museum, FL
  • Kris Kelly- TELUS Spark, the New Science Centre, Calgary, AB, Canada
  • L. Autumn King- Chabot Space & Science Center, Oakland, CA
  • Brittani Lane- EdVenture Children’s Museum, Columbia, SC
  • Jeffrey Mehigan- Museum of Science, Boston, MA
  • Amanda Paige- University of Michigan Museum of Natural History, Ann Arbor, MI
  • Tamara Poles- North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, Raleigh, NC
  • Kyle Pong- Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum, Reno, NV
  • Chelsea Rodriguez- Pacific Science Center, Seattle, WA
  • Scott Shoemaker- Science Museum of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN
  • Daniela Siqueiros- Children’s Museum of Tucson, AZ
  • Dale Wilson- Marbles Kids Museum, Raleigh, NC

Alumni Fellows include:

  • Adrienne Barnett- Exploratorium, San Francisco, CA
  • Tracey Cones-Renshaw- National Museum of Natural History, Washington, DC
  • Jennifer Jenkins- WonderLab Museum of Science, Health and Technology, Bloomington, IN
  • Josh Kemper- Pacific Science Center, Seattle, WA
  • Mark Thorne- National Children’s Museum, National Harbor, MD
  • Merisa Camacho- California Science Center, Los Angeles, CA

For more information, visit

Upcoming Webinar from Dr. Jeffrey Ford – “The Four Conversations: Daily Communications that Gets Results”

June 10th, 2013 - Posted in Professional Development, Resources by Mary Mathias

Dr. Jeffrey Ford

ASTC is pleased to announce a new professional development opportunity for the ASTC community. Please join us on June 25th at 3pm EDT for a FREE webinar with Dr. Jeffrey Ford, author of The Four Conversations: Daily Communications that Gets Results.

This webinar, building from a wildly popular pre-conference workshop at last year’s ASTC Annual Conference, will introduce participants to Dr. Ford’s online course, The Four Conversations Online Effectiveness Training, and how using the skills gained from the course can help you better communicate with colleagues, visitors, and community leaders. Register now for the online webinar here! Space is limited.

ASTC and Dr. Ford have partnered to offer this online training at a discounted rate of $99 US to ASTC members. Webinars with Dr. Ford are included in this course and exclusive for ASTC members. During these FREE exclusive webinars, Dr. Ford will be answering participants’ questions about successful communication and how you can use the training in your work.

About this professional development
Success in work and life requires the ability to get results through others. Whether it is your boss, a colleague, your spouse, your children, or a neighbor, your ability to produce results with others impacts the quality of your life. The primary tool you have for accomplishing these results is conversation. Yet, as you have no doubt noticed, our conversations don’t always get us the results we want, expect, or hope for. This online course can change that.

In this course, you will learn such things as:

  • Your personal communication practices and how to improve the ones you want to improve
  • Which types of conversations actually slow things down and undermine effective working relations
  • How the four productive conversations work and when to use them to get the results you want and need from others
  • How to overcome barriers to your personal success and accomplishment such as others submitting things late, giving you poor quality work, or being uncooperative
  • That how you talk matters and that you can be more successful and effective by making a few changes in your current pattern of communication
  • ASTC is pleased to offer the online course at discounted rate to ASTC members. The June 25th webinar is free for all ASTC members.

    About Dr. Ford
    Dr. Jeffrey Ford is a professor of management in the Max M. Fisher College of Business at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. He holds a B.S. in marketing from the University of Maryland, and an MBA, and a Ph.D. in organizational behavior from The Ohio State University. Prior to joining Fisher, Dr. Ford served on the faculties of the Institute of Management and Labor Research at Rutgers—The State University of New Jersey, and the Kelly School of Business at Indiana University.

    Order the Four Conversations online from the ASTC Bookstore

    The Four Conversations: Daily Communication that Gets Results
    Jeffrey Ford and Laurie Ford
    Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2009
    This book is an important tool for employees and managers who want to communicate more effectively. The Four Conversations: Daily Communication that Gets Results shows some of the mistakes that are made in everyday conversation and provides the reader with the tools how to minimize those mistakes and to communicate in a way that is productive both for themselves and their colleagues. 240 pp.

    The next webinar with Dr. Ford will take place on Monday, August 19 and will be exclusively for those registered for the Four Conversations Online Effectiveness Training course. Sign up for the course at the discounted rate for ASTC members here!

    Watch the July 25th introductory webinar below:

    Four Conversations Informational Webinar with Dr. Jeffrey Ford from ASTC Professional Development on Vimeo.

    Upcoming PES Community of Practice Webinars

    April 30th, 2013 - Posted in Professional Development by Christine Ruffo

    The ASTC public engagement with science community of practice will be hosting regular webinars this summer. Please email with any questions.

    Local Public Engagement with Science
    May 7, 2PM EDT, 1PM CDT, 11AM PDT

    This webinar focused on using PES strategies to engage communities on issues of local importance. It featured presentations from Kate Brandes, Science Program Director, The Nurture Nature Center; Jen Kretser, Director of Programs, The Wild Center; and David Sittenfeld, Program Manager (Forum), Museum of Science, Boston, followed by an audience Q&A.

    PES CoP Webinar: Local Public Engagement with Science Programs from ASTC Professional Development on Vimeo.

    Dan Kahan, Cultural Cognition Project, Yale University
    June 4, 3 PM EDT, 2 CDT, 12 PDT

    Research on cultural cognition suggests that members of the public process science-related information by assessing its coherence with values and commitments that connect them to important affinity groups. This suggests a two-channel science communication strategy that combines information content with cultural meanings selected to promote open-minded assessment of information across diverse groups. This webinar focused on this research and explored public engagement strategies for improving science communication followed by Q & A.

    Dan Kahan is a leading scholar in the fields of criminal law and evidence at Yale Law School and is known for his theory of cultural cognition. Members of the Cultural Cognition Project use the methods of various disciplines—including social psychology, anthropology, communications and political science—to measure the mechanisms of cultural cognition and to identify processes of democratic decision-making by which society can resolve culturally grounded differences in belief in a manner that is both congenial to persons of diverse cultural outlooks and consistent with sound public policymaking.

    PES CoP Webinar: Cultural Cognition and Democratic Decision Making from ASTC Professional Development on Vimeo.

    Dietram Scheufele, University of Wisconsin—Madison
    July 9, 3 PM EDT, 2 CDT, 12 PDT

    A number of past studies in the US and the UK have found that most scientists blame public ignorance of science for flawed policy preferences and political choices. They believe the public is inadequately informed about science topics and that, except for a small minority, the public is uninterested in becoming more knowledgeable. They favor one-way communication with the public, viewing engagement as chiefly about dissemination rather than two-way dialogue and active public participation in decisions. In UK data, only 12% indicated engagement meant listening to or attempting to understand the views of the public. But more recent studies involving both online and face-to-face environments have shown the emergence of new cohorts of young scientists who find value in both talking and listening to the public. Dietram Scheufele, Professor of Science Communication at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and Co-Chair of the National Academies’ Roundtable on Public Interfaces of the Life Sciences, shared recent research findings.

    How can those of us in the informal science education community, which has been driven by “public understanding of science” and the deficit model, take advantage of this new receptivity to engagement? If we can understand the benefits of engagement to the experts, we can design our activities to meet the needs of both the public and the scientific community, and make engagement programs a multi-directional win-win proposition for all.

    PES CoP Webinar: A Shift in Scientists’ Perception of Public Engagement with Dietram Scheufele, University of Wisconsin-Madison from ASTC Professional Development on Vimeo.

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