The Noyce Foundation Announces Bright Lights Community Engagement Award Winners

June 17th, 2014 - Posted in Member News by Mary Mathias

The Noyce Foundation has announced the winners of its Bright Lights Community Engagement Awards competition, which recognizes U.S. science centers, children’s museums, and natural history museums that have excelled in engaging their local communities, with a particular interest in science, technology, engineering, or math outreach. 94 applications were received from institutions across the country and, after three rounds of judging by an expert panel, seven winners were selected. All winners demonstrated their ability to reach sections of their communities that have needs not generally addressed by science centers, and to engage their communities in new and innovative ways. The winners are:

  • Explora in Albuquerque, NM
  • Hands On Children’s Museum in Olympia, WA
  • Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, CA
  • Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) in Tampa, FL
  • Science Museum of Minnesota in St. Paul
  • The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, PA
  • The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, CA

Honorable mentions were given to the Great Lakes Science Center in Cleveland, OH and the University of Montana SpectrUM Discovery Center in Missoula for new and very promising programs.

All award recipients are committed to sharing their insights and experiences with other interested organizations. Videos of each will be available in a few months, and their work will be highlighted at professional meetings and other venues.

Congratulations to all award recipients!

Science Within Reach: Engaging the Public in Scientific Research

May 30th, 2014 - Posted in 2014, Dimensions by Alejandro Asin

IN THIS ISSUE
May/June 2014

What happens when the public is given the opportunity to engage meaningfully in authentic scientific research? Participants may develop a sense of ownership and a deeper understanding of science, and scientists gain access to valuable resources and fresh perspectives. As sites for community engagement, education, and sometimes scientific research itself, science centers, museums, and related institutions are ideally positioned to connect the public with authentic research.

In this issue of Dimensions, we examine three ways our field is doing this work. A major part of the issue is devoted to citizen science, where volunteers partner with scientists to investigate real scientific questions. We define citizen science broadly here to include many different models of public participation in scientific research, whether laypeople are collecting or analyzing data, interpreting results, or determining research questions. In addition, this issue looks at research labs housed in museums, and programs that connect youth to scientists as mentors.

Features
• Everyone a Scientist? Opening Scientific Research to a Broader Public, by Martin Storksdieck
• Six Practices for Engaging Underrepresented Communities as Citizen Science Partners, by Norman Porticella, Flisa Stevenson, and Jennifer Shirk
Bridging the Gaps: Integrating Citizen Science Throughout an Institution, by Christine L. Goforth, Julie M. Urban, and Julie E. Horvath
• Select Resources to Support and Inspire Citizen Science, compiled by Christine L. Goforth and Jennifer Shirk
Powered by the People: A Citizen Science Sampler
• Testing the Waters: Students in India Monitor Arsenic Levels, by Niranjan Gupta, Nikhiles Biswas, Naba Kumar Mondal, G.S. Rautela, Emdadul Islam, and Marilyn Hoyt
• Teen Scientists: Youth Doing Rigorous, Authentic Research at Museums, by Preeti Gupta and Oscar Pineda
• Native Science Fellows: Supporting Native American Students in Geoscience Research, by Helen Augare, Bonnie Sachatello-Sawyer, Shelly Valdez, and Melissa Weatherwax
• There’s a New Lab in Town, by Sara Poirier

Online Departments
From the CEO: The “team sport” of science center learning
Viewpoints: Are making and tinkering spaces just a fad, or are they here to stay?
Q&A: Sean Carroll on science and the silver screen

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Bridging the Gaps: Integrating Citizen Science Throughout an Institution

May 30th, 2014 - Posted in 2014, Dimensions by Alejandro Asin

By Christine L. Goforth, Julie M. Urban, and Julie E. Horvath

From Dimensions
May/June 2014

At the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences (NCMNS), Raleigh, we’ve made citizen science a priority, because we recognize its power to teach people about the natural world and the role of science in their daily lives. The value of the citizen scientist is apparent throughout our museum, including in our research and collections, educational programs, exhibits, and outdoor facility, Prairie Ridge Ecostation. We constantly improve our public science offerings to reach out to our visitors and engage them in scientific experiences.
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Youth Representatives Visit Capitol Hill to Advocate for Afterschool Programs

May 28th, 2014 - Posted in Events, Partners by Mary Mathias

On Thursday, May 22, 2014, youth representatives from museum programs met with Members of Congress to advocate for afterschool programs as part of the Afterschool Alliance’s Afterschool for All Challenge. Held as part of the Afterschool Alliance’s National Network Meeting, the Afterschool for All Challenge “[provided] unique networking and professional development opportunities that empower participants to become informed, capable afterschool advocates of all ages.” Participants were sent to Capitol Hill to advocate for the Afterschool for America’s Children Act as part of the 21st Century Learning Centers initiative (S. 326 in the Senate and HR 4086 in the House of Representatives).

The teenage representatives traveled to Washington, DC from the New Jersey Academy of Aquatic Sciences in Camden, the Newark Museum in Newark, New Jersey, The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland, and the Natural History Museum of Utah in Salt Lake City.

The whole gang!

The teens started with a day of advocacy training on May 21 as part of the conference. They ended the day with additional preparation over pizza at the ASTC office, which gave them an opportunity to meet the rest of the youth participants and learn about the programs at other institutions.

Pizza Party

The groups were up early the next morning for the Breakfast of Champions, which honored leading advocates and practitioners in afterschool programs. Then it was off to Capitol Hill for meetings in the offices of Members of Congress from each group’s home state. Overall, the reaction from both the teens and the staffers with whom they met was enthusiastic, and all parted in high spirits, satisfied that they had made an excellent case for afterschool programs.


Over the next few weeks, the participating ASTC programs will be posting guest entries about their experiences here on the ASTC blog, so stay tuned!

Photos by Mary Mathias 

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.



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