ASTC Update: Three ASTC members receive IMLS/MacArthur Learning Labs grant, four more to partner with awarded libraries

November 13th, 2012 - Posted in ASTC News, Featured, Member News, Professional Development by Larry Hoffer

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation announced November 8 that three ASTC-member institutions—the Lawrence Hall of Science, Berkeley, California; Madison Children’s Museum, Wisconsin; and the Science Museum of Virginia Foundation, Richmond—were among the second round of winners of a U.S.-wide competition to design 21st Century learning labs in museums and libraries around the country.

The 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.

In addition to the three ASTC members that received Learning Labs grants, four additional ASTC members—Carnegie Science Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Las Vegas Natural History Museum, Nevada; Lied Discovery Children’s Museum, Las Vegas, Nevada; and Perot Museum of Nature and Science, Dallas, Texas—will partner with awarded libraries in their communities.

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.

ASTC CEO Anthony (Bud) Rock remarked, “We are very excited about the continued success of the Learning Labs program. Science centers and museums nurture the innovative spirit so crucially needed for success in today’s world, and using digital media to further ignite the excitement of our nation’s youth about lifelong STEM learning will ensure that future generations cultivate the skills they need, such as problem solving, creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration. The fact that three of the five museums named as grant recipients are science centers is an exciting testament to the strength of our field as an incubator of innovation in our communities.”

The 12 recipients of this round of grants were selected out of a pool of 105 applicants from 33 states. Applications were evaluated by professionals with relevant expertise in digital media and learning. Winners will participate—in-person and online—in a community of practice that will provide technical assistance, networking, and cross-project learning. In addition to the Lawrence Hall of Science, Madison Children’s Museum, and the Science Museum of Virginia Foundation, those institutions selected as grant recipients include: University of Alabama/Alabama Museum of Natural History, Tuscaloosa; Rochester Public Library, New York; City of Lynn, Massachusetts (Lynn Public Library); Las Vegas-Clark County Library District, Nevada; Parmly Billings Library Foundation, Inc., Billings, Montana; Pima County Public Library, Tucson, Arizona; and Poughkeepsie Public Library District, New York.

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.

For more information about the Learning Labs project, visit www.imls.gov or www.Youmedia.org.

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.

Engaging Youth in STEM Outside the Classroom Webinar Recording Available

August 2nd, 2011 - Posted in ASTC News, Professional Development by Larry Hoffer

Offered as a part of ASTC’s Youth Inspired Challenge, Engaging Youth in STEM Outside the Classroom is a three-part webinar series devoted to an in-depth analysis of the field of STEM out-of-school-time education. Led by Jamie Alonzo of the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History and Irene Porro of the MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research, the first webinar in the series took place on Wednesday, July 27, and engaged participants in an interactive discussion on the field of STEM education in out-of-school-time and its role within the broader educational landscape, as well as the need and potential for unification of the field. The recording of the webinar is now available online at www.anymeeting.com/astc/E950D8858149. Please note that due to bandwidth issues, some slides in the presentation may be slightly blurred. Handouts of the slides are available.

The next two webinars in the series will explore the relationship between formal and informal education sectors and the relationship between STEM in out-of-school time and workforce development. Please contact Laura Huerta Migus at lhuertamigus@astc.org for presentation handouts and to register for the remaining webinars in this series.

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