Today’s Destination Visitors

November 25th, 2013 - Posted in 2013, Dimensions by Emily Schuster

By Diane Lochner and Tom Owen
From Dimensions
November/December 2013

Now that the United States has passed through the crucible of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, destination visitors, both locals and those traveling, are back. And they are wiser, seek greater value, and are more sensitive to “pain points” (see graph) than ever before.

In May 2013, PGAV Destinations, a destination design and consulting firm in St. Louis, Missouri, and H2R Market Research published a study of destination visitors across the United States. The study evaluated the shifting priorities of today’s visitors and how their needs and wants drive their behavior.
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A Fresh New Look

November 25th, 2013 - Posted in 2013, Dimensions, From the CEO by Emily Schuster

The entire ASTC staff is tremendously excited about the fresh, new, and inspirational look to ASTC these days. We hope readers ASTC’s print and online materials have noticed that the ASTC logo has taken on a new “flare,” literally! You could say the Association is “ablaze” with new programs and services, and our new logo exemplifies that ASTC energy. We encourage all of our ASTC-member science centers and museums to feature the new ASTC logo prominently in their buildings and on their websites. To update the ASTC logo in your institution, please contact us.
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Museum Open House Day & Science in the Park

October 23rd, 2013 - Posted in Annual Conference by Mary Mathias

The final day of the 2013 ASTC Annual Conference was Museum Open House Day, with the three host museums opening their doors to ASTC members. In addition to their regular exhibits, the host museums included a variety of activities and presentations. Explora hosted Meet and Greet sessions with different museum professionals, including volunteer and visitor services coordinators, educators, and marketing and publications staff. They also had activities related to National Chemistry Week, local scientists, and many presentations in the theater, such as a discussion of on digital media art and science.

The New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science (NMMNHS) also held numerous events, such as the presentation “The Neuroscience of Creativity” by Dr. Rex E. Jung of the University of New Mexico, tours of the geoscience and bioscience collections, and tours of the Sandia Mountain Natural History Center. NMMNHS was also host to Big Screen Day screenings of eight different films and four different planetarium demonstrations. The National Museum of Nuclear Science and History opened their doors as well, showing films throughout the day and offering Q&A sessions with the museum registrar and the museum curator.

This year’s Museum Open House Day also featured Science in the Park, during which science centers and museums from across the country gathered in Tiguex Park with demonstrations and activities for local students and the general public. The event was a tremendous success with hundreds of students enjoying a vast array of activities, such as a mini-hot air balloon demonstration, telescope viewing, and bubble stations.

Thank you to the ASTC 2013 host museums!

The Neuroscience of STEM Creativity

October 23rd, 2013 - Posted in Annual Conference by Mary Mathias

During Museum Open House Day on Tuesday, October 22, Dr. Rex E. Jung from the University of New Mexico gave a very informative presentation called The Neuroscience of STEM Creativity at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science. Dr. Jung has been studying creativity for the past four years but has recently started examining scientific creativity in particular.

Dr. Jung stressed the importance of the distinction between novelty and usefulness when discussing creativity. Something that is truly creative, like what many scientists and innovators produce, is both novel and useful, though the term creativity is used for many things. He then moved on to discuss the phases of scientific revolution: pre-paradigm, folk psychology, theory testing, consensus/normal science, anomalies, revolutionary science, and finally, paradigm shift.

Dr. Jung mixed pop culture references and scientific data to present the steps of cognitive creativity: Preparation, incubation, illumination, and verification. He also stressed the importance of downtime for the brain to allow for ideas to assemble and for “eureka!” moments. This research, he says, can have big implications for the structure of education. Dr. Jung is also a proponent of art and science collaboration. He believes that art and science are not so different that we should expect to find that the creativity behind them originates in different areas of the brain.

Dr. Jung also spent time debunking common folk psychologies, such as the left-brained/right-brained traits, and that creativity is produced by geniuses or chemicals. Another interesting discussion was on the subject of brainstorming. Dr. Jung discussed that some research suggests that brainstorming is not the most effective way to produce creative results, due to social conformity and social pressures.

Questions were permitted throughout the presentation and led to very interesting tangents with attendees falling on both sides of the arguments.

Humphrey becomes ASTC Board Chair

October 22nd, 2013 - Posted in ASTC News, Annual Conference, Member News by Larry Hoffer

During ASTC’s Annual Business Meeting on October 21, 2013, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, ASTC President R. Bryce Seidl, president and CEO, Pacific Science Center, Seattle, WA, passed the gavel to a new Board Chair—Chevy Humphrey, president and CEO, Arizona Science Center, Phoenix. Humphrey, who most recently served as ASTC’s secretary/treasurer, joined ASTC’s Board of Directors in 2005, and also served as vice-president from 2009-2011. (Officer titles changed from president to chair, vice-president to chair-elect, and immediate past president to immediate past chair this year as the result of bylaws changes approved by the Association’s Board of Directors in August.)

Joining Humphrey on ASTC’s Executive Committee are Chair-Elect: Linda Conlon, chief executive, International Centre for Life, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom; Secretary: Joanna Haas, executive director, Kentucky Science Center, Louisville; Treasurer: David Chesebrough, CEO, COSI, Columbus, Ohio; and Members-at-Large: Guy Labine, CEO, Science North, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada; and Alexander Zwissler, executive director and CEO, Chabot Space & Science Center, Oakland, CA. (Seidl will serve as immediate past chair.)

As a result of the bylaws revisions, the maximum size of the Board of Directors was increased from 18 to 24 members. This year, seven new Board members were elected by the Association’s governing members, and one member was re-elected. The new Board members are: Kate Bennett, president, Rochester Museum & Science Center, NY; Blair Collis, president and CEO, Bishop Museum, Honolulu, HI; Kirsten Ellenbogen, president and CEO, Great Lakes Science Center, Cleveland, OH; Matt Fleury, president and CEO, Connecticut Science Center, Hartford; Asger Høeg, executive director, Experimentarium, Hellerup, Denmark; Tim Ritchie, president, The Tech Museum of Innovation, San Jose, CA; and Silvia Singer, general director and CEO, MIDE, Mexico, D.F., Mexico. Ronen Mir, director of science learning centers, Levinson Visitors Center, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel, was re-elected to a second three-year term.

Those directors continuing their Board terms are: Dennis Bartels, executive director, Exploratorium, San Francisco, CA; Ann Fumarolo, president and CEO, Sci-Port: Louisiana’s Science Center, Shreveport; Nohora Elizabeth Hoyos, director, Maloka, Bogota, Colombia; Tit Meng Lim, chief executive, Singapore Science Centre, Singapore; David Mosena, president and CEO, Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, IL; Neville Petrie, CEO, Science Alive! The New Zealand Science Centre, Christchurch; Stephanie Ratcliffe, executive director, The Wild Center, Tupper Lake, NY; and Barry Van Deman, president and CEO, Museum of Life and Science, Durham, NC.

During the Business Meeting, Seidl recognized two outgoing Board members for their service—Carol Valenta, formerly of the Saint Louis Science Center, and Nancy Stueber, president and CEO, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, Portland, who has served as immediate past president for the last two years. “The Association and our field owe a great deal of gratitude to Nancy Stueber for her service and leadership,” Seidl remarked.

For further information about Humphrey, read her interview in the September/October issue of Dimensions magazine, at

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