Welcome to Raleigh!

October 16th, 2014 - Posted in Annual Conference by Mary Mathias

More than 1,500 attendees (with more to come) from around the world have gathered in Raleigh, North Carolina for the start of the 2014 ASTC Annual Conference, hosted by the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.

With over 110 sessions and workshops; and keynote presentations featuring Dr. Hayat Sindi, UN Science Ambassador and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador and Angelo Vermeulen, visual artist, scientist, and community organizer; as well as numerous networking opportunities, ASTC 2014 promises to be an exceptional professional development opportunity for the global science center community.

Whether on-site or from afar, ASTC invites you to follow the 2014 Annual Conference online. Follow us on Twitter (@sciencecenters), and join in the conversation using hashtag #astc2014. Photos and videos will also be posted on Instagram (follow @sciencecenters and post your own using #astc2014), and on our ASTCvideos YouTube channel. The ASTC Conference Blog will also be updated Saturday through Tuesday.

Science Center World Summit Mechelen Declaration

October 16th, 2014 - Posted in ASTC News by Mary Mathias

Written By Erik Jacquemyn, Chair of the 1st Science Centre World Summit (SCWS)

From Monday, March 17 until Wednesday, March 19, 2014, the Science Centre World Summit took place in Mechelen, Belgium, bringing together CEOs, managers, decision makers, and experts from within and outside the science centre field. In total, 464 participants from 58 different countries attended the Summit.

The purpose was to create a global network of diverse organizations in order to make society aware of the opportunities science holds for the sustainable advancement of society. In this way, the Summit differs from former world congresses that mainly focused on the role that the science centre sector can play in increasing public engagement in science and technology.

One of the outcomes of the World Summit is the “Mechelen Declaration.” Building on the 2008 Toronto and 2011 Cape Town Declarations, the Mechelen Declaration sets out a plan for the international science centre field and its strategic partners to commit to seven concrete actions for the enhancement of public engagement for a better world. Like the 2008 and 2011 Declarations, the Mechelen Declaration has been developed in close consultation with the regional science centre networks.

The Declaration was presented at the beginning of the 2014 Summit, which enabled session presenters and participants to reflect on its messages throughout the Summit programme.

The day prior to the Summit, 78 science centre CEOs met to prioritize key actions and suggestions for implementation of the Mechelen Declaration to form the basis for developing a guide for science centres and partner organizations to plan and measure their contributions to the advancement of the Declaration goals.

In a plenary session on Tuesday, March 18, all attendees were invited to take part in a voting round about the priorities of the seven action points. Attendees were asked in three consequent voting rounds to prioritize the three most important action points.

All the discussions about the Declaration resolved that:

  • The Mechelen Declaration is to be viewed as a starting point and a framework for discussion. Although it was meticulously prepared by an editorial committee and approved by the regional networks, it will be supplemented by a memorandum to guide science centres, networks, and partner organizations in their follow-up to the Declaration goals.
  • Although needing to work together as a global science centre community, it is important for science centres to implement the Declaration in their own localities as appropriate to their local contexts and opportunities.

Summit participants reached a consensus on the following two goals as high immediate priority within the Declaration:

  • Investigate how to engage even more effectively with local communities and increasingly diverse audiences, and keep the focus on gender differences in engagement.
  • Take the lead in developing the best methods for engaging learners and optimizing their education in both formal and informal settings using appropriate technologies in widely varying contexts.

The Mechelen Declaration was signed not only by delegates from within the science centre field and their networks, but also by other international organizations such as the Organization of American States (OAS) and the International Council of Museums (ICOM). The chief scientific adviser to the head of the European Commission also endorsed the Declaration. By signing the document, they agree to promote the Declaration to their organizations and to respond to future invitations to discuss potential partnerships.

At the end of the Summit, participants signed the Declaration to personally commit to bring the seven goals into reality.

Towards 2017
The next Science Centre World Summit will be organized in Tokyo (November 15-17, 2017).

Since the 2014 Summit in March, there have been consultations amongst the networks and it was agreed that there will be no “Tokyo Declaration.” Instead, working towards 2017, the networks are committed to work on the implementation of the outcomes of the Mechelen Declaration. In 2017 the focus will be on the evaluation of these efforts. The Declaration will guide part of the activity of the networks in the future and it will be seen by all.

And it starts here at the 2014 ASTC conference. Go to the ASTC Resource Center in the Exhibit Hall to see the declaration, and follow ASTC social media pages (Facebook, Twitter, ASTC General Forum) to contribute your views.

Join the 3D Systems MakerLab Club

October 6th, 2014 - Posted in Partners by Mary Mathias

3D Systems, in collaboration with ASTC, is committed to expanding young people’s access to 21st century tools like 3D design, 3D scanning, and 3D printing.

The MakerLab Club is a community of U.S. science centers, museums, and libraries working to bring 3D printing and 21st century tools and programs to the public, through dedicated equipment, workshops, and public access.

3D Systems will donate 3D printers to museums and science centers across the country that join the MakerLab Club and establish access to 3D printing and design opportunities for their communities. 3D Systems is supporting ASTC members by providing donated printers to members that are committed to building or expanding 3D printing opportunities.

Apply to be part of the MakerLab Club here. Applications will be accepted until November 17, 2014.

Donated printers will be allocated on a competitive basis.

Eligibility and Membership Requirements
Membership is available to science centers, museums, and libraries committed to creating or expanding makerlabs and/or makerspaces and providing community access to 3D printers and digital design.

Maker Lab Club Benefits

  • Up to four (4) donated Cube 3D printers
  • Regular access to workshop curricula and content
  • Exclusive equipment discounts and opportunities to win free hardware and software
  • Training webinars
  • Participation in communities of practice and access to best practices

Learn more at www.3dsystems.com/education/partnersandresources/makerlab-club, or visit 3D Systems at Booth #915 at the ASTC Conference in Raleigh next week.

Upcoming Webinar: Sharing Resources for Engaging Diverse Audiences

September 30th, 2014 - Posted in Events, Professional Development by Mary Mathias

What resources exist to help you reach traditionally underserved and underrepresented audiences? Join us Thursday, October 9, at 3:00 p.m. ET to learn about a variety of resources developed by the Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network (NISE Net) that can be applied far beyond the topic of nano. Presentations will focus on guidelines for universal design, bilingual program and exhibit development, and tips and tricks for engaging girls in STEM programming. Have a resource you’ve found particularly useful? Please come and share it with the group!


  • Tim Hecox, Exhibit & Program Developer, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry
  • Amanda Fisher, Curriculum Developer, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry
  • Veronika Nunez, Senior Exhibit & Program Developer, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry
  • Anna Lindgren-Streicher, Manager, Research & Evaluation, Museum of Science, Boston

Register for this webinar at www4.gotomeeting.com/register/463803967.

Date: October 9, 2014
Time: 3:00 p.m. ET / 12:00 p.m. PT
Fee: Free!

Lights On Afterschool Partnership Minigrant Recipients

September 29th, 2014 - Posted in ASTC News, Partners by Mary Mathias

ASTC and the Afterschool Alliance have, through funding from the Noyce Foundation, awarded 20 Lights On Afterschool Partnership Minigrants. Minigrants were awarded to ASTC-member institutions to aid in the implementation of an event for the Lights On Afterschool celebration in cooperation with an afterschool partner. This program stems from the partnership formed between ASTC and the Afterschool Alliance as our Commitment to Action for the Clinton Global Initiative, an annual drive to find innovative solutions to promote economic recovery in the United States, including objectives in education and skill development. This minigrant program is designed to strengthen STEM learning partnerships between ASTC-member science centers in the United States and afterschool providers.

The 15th annual Lights On Afterschool celebration will be held on October 23, 2014, with events taking place throughout October. Lights On Afterschool is the only nationwide event celebrating afterschool programs and their important role in the lives of children, families, and communities. Science centers are ideally placed to hold events as a part of Lights On Afterschool, and these grants were awarded to support such events.

Congratulations to all recipients:

  • Arizona Science Center in Phoenix, AZ, with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale, AZ
  • The Bakken Museum, with the Sabathani Community Center, both in Minneapolis, MN
  • Betty Brinn Children’s Museum, with Journey House Community Center, both in Milwaukee, WI
  • Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh, PA, with the Sewickley Valley YMCA in Sewickley, PA
  • Children’s Discovery Museum in Normal, IL, with the Boys & Girls Club of Bloomington-Normal, IL
  • Children’s Discovery Museum in Augusta, ME, with the Maine Afterschool Network in Farmington
  • Explora Science Center & Children’s Museum of Albuquerque, with Children’s Choice Child Care Services, Inc, both in Albuquerque, NM
  • Exploration Place, The Sedgwick County Science and Discovery Center in Wichita, KS, with McConnell Air Force Base 4-H at McConnell AFB, KS
  • The Franklin Institute, with Project H.O.M.E. / Honickman Learning Center and Comcast Technology Labs, both in Philadelphia, PA
  • Headwaters Science Center, with the Boys & Girls Club of the Bemidji Area, both in Bemidji, MN
  • Imagination Station Science and History Museum, with The SPOT, both in Wilson, NC
  • miSci – museum of innovation and science in Schenectady, NY, with AfterSchool Works! New York in Menands, NY
  • Museum of Discovery, with the Arkansas Out of School Network, both in Little Rock
  • Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, MT, with the Boys & Girls Club of Lewistown, MT
  • Oregon Museum of Science and Industry in Portland, with the Youth Development Coalition of Lincoln County in Newport, OR
  • Perot Museum of Nature and Science, with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Dallas, both in Dallas, TX
  • Roper Mountain Science Center, with Communities in Schools, both in Greenville, SC
  • South Dakota Discovery Center, with Oahe YMCA Kidstop, both in Pierre
  • Staten Island Children’s Museum, with The Children’s Aid Society, both in Staten Island, NY
  • University of Alaska Museum of the North, with 4-H – University of Alaska, both in Fairbanks

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