Cultivating the Future: Science Centers and Agriculture

April 17th, 2014 - Posted in 2014, Dimensions by Alejandro Asin

IN THIS ISSUE
March/April 2014

Inspired by the International Year of Family Farming 2014, this issue of Dimensions examines how science centers and museums are addressing the diverse, complex, and sometimes controversial issues surrounding agriculture.

We all depend on agriculture—whether we live in a rural or urban area, in a developed or developing country. Agriculture encompasses some of the world’s most critical issues, including combating hunger, protecting the environment, and spurring economic growth.

Science centers and museums are ideal places to examine this universally relevant topic. As community meeting places and educational resources, science centers are engaging audiences in agriculture by holding farmers markets and dialogue forums, creating exhibitions and outreach programs, and getting kids’ hands dirty in urban gardens. Agriculture provides an opportunity to address science-related topics ranging from nutrition to nano. We invite you to explore with us the many facets of this critical subject, so deeply rooted in science, technology, and our communities.

Features
Family Farming: Feeding the World, Caring for the Earth, by Conchi Quintana
• Promoting the Philosophy of Sufficiency Economy for Agriculture in Thailand, by Nanthaka Saengchan
• Exploring Agricultural Sciences and Careers, by Michele Laverty
• Growing an Advisory Group, by Bruce Quast
• Contain Yourself: Exploring Agriculture Through Container Gardens, by Tracy Calogheros
• From Heritage Fruit Trees to “Space Lettuce”: Agricultural Projects from Around the Field
• Farming for Fuels, by Wayne Robinson
Scientist for a Day: Interpreting Brazilian Biodiesel, by Vivian Chies and Daniela Garcia Collares

Online Departments
From the CEO
Q&A with Angelo Vermeulen

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Family Farming: Feeding the World, Caring for the Earth

April 17th, 2014 - Posted in 2014, Dimensions by Alejandro Asin

By Conchi Quintana
From Dimensions
March/April 2014

According to current forecasts, world agricultural production will have to increase by 70% by 2050 to meet the food demands of a world population of over 9 billion. The good news is that there is no need to invent anything new to respond to this challenge; instead, we need to realize the productive potential of family farming.

The International Year of Family Farming (IYFF-2014) is dedicated to recognizing the work of men and women family farmers worldwide. It acknowledges the potential of small farms to achieve food security and eradicate poverty through sustainable food production, as stated in Resolution 66/222, adopted by the UN General Assembly. Family farming also has great potential to protect land and the environment.

This article will explain the importance of family farming for the present and future of our planet and set out IYFF-2014’s goals. It will also discuss ways science centers and museums can participate and help raise awareness of the importance of family farming throughout the world.
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"My Job Is Science"

April 17th, 2014 - Posted in 2014, Dimensions, From the CEO by Anthony (Bud) Rock

I have been fascinated for some time with the issue of science in the everyday workforce. My goal is for our science centers and museums to give nearly every parent or caregiver the opportunity to describe his or her profession to a child in distinctly “scientific terms,” even if this is less obvious on its face. This might take the form of a program or exhibition entitled “My Job Is Science,” where careers of all types are described in terms of their connections to science: “I am a hospital technician, plumber, restaurant employee, auto mechanic, law enforcement or fire and rescue officer, teacher, farmer—and my job is about science.”
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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 members.astc.org! For additional information, contact profdev@astc.org.  Hotel information and a detailed agenda will be distributed after confirmation of registration.

Q&A with Angelo Vermeulen

February 27th, 2014 - Posted in 2014, Dimensions, Q&A by Emily Schuster

Interviewed by Joelle Seligson

This interview appeared in the March/April 2014 issue of Dimensions magazine.

Angelo Vermeulen’s title is tricky to fit on a business card. He defines himself as an even combination of visual artist, scientist, and community organizer. Vermeulen completed his first Ph.D., on the deformation of teeth of nonbiting midges, at Belgium’s Catholic University of Leuven in 1998. (He is now at work on a second Ph.D. in starship design.) He also graduated from the city’s Academy of Fine Arts with a degree in photography. This combination of art and science has taken Vermeulen around the world—and nearly beyond—speaking at the TED conference in California, developing a community art project in the Philippines, and experimenting with food on the (simulated) surface of Mars. He chatted with Dimensions about his multifaceted career and endeavors, and how they someday might help sustain humankind.

Read the full transcript, or listen to the podcast.

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