Meghan Schiedel, curriculum developer at The Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum in Reno, is one of the 2017 ASTC Diversity and Leadership Development Fellows. She was selected from a record pool of applicants earlier this year based on her work on inclusion at The Discovery and her goals of becoming a resource for cultural competency and growing as an innovative leader within the museum profession.
In addition to leading her institution’s field trip program and writing curriculum for its Camp Discovery and floor programming, Meghan has been developing several broader objectives for the museum. Her vision for equity and diversity within The Discovery includes making all the individuals in the community feel like the museum is a place for them. Her work with underrepresented audiences, creation of outstanding curriculum, and long-term career goal of having an impact in her community were all part of her being selected as a Fellow.
As one of sixteen Fellows in this year’s cohort, Meghan attended the ASTC Annual Conference in San Jose, California, last month. The Fellows met for two days before the conference began to engage in intensive professional development activities around leadership development and equity and access within the museum field. They also met several times over the course of the conference to share their experiences and talk about new ideas.
One of the primary objectives of the ASTC conference, especially for the Fellows, is to facilitate networking and idea exchange among meet museum professionals from across the world. Meghan had the opportunity to connect with other people in the field and share ideas and strategies for addressing issues concerning leadership in museums, diversity, and reinventing the way we educate our visitors. The ASTC conference offered Meghan the chance to cultivate new mentors from other museums, and to discover where her talent and vision will be most effective at The Discovery as her career develops.
Attending the ASTC conference ensured that the work Meghan is doing at The Discovery is both in line with industry standards and at the cutting edge of moving it forward. Speakers came from science centers and museums of all sizes across the world. Conference highlights included sessions on a wide variety of topics, opportunities to see other institutions in the San Francisco Bay area, and meet-ups for the ASTC Communities of Practice, groups of science center professionals who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly. She also learned some strategies for her most immediate goals of expanding The Discovery’s field trip program, developing Family Science Nights at The Discovery, and improving the educational impact of traveling exhibitions that come to the museum.
Because Meghan is legally blind, much of the museum world is inaccessible to her. This experience has made her a passionate advocate for examining practices that might limit access to the work we do at The Discovery.
She frequently asks: “Who can enjoy this program/exhibit?” and “How can we modify it so that more people can take part?”
For example, Meghan spearheaded the Discover Your Way program beginning in 2013, which provides exclusive museum hours to serve members of the community who are on the autism and sensory and perception disorders spectrum. She leads the Cultural Competency Committee at The Discovery and is a voice for underrepresented audiences.
Meghan found the ASTC Conference session “Finding Math in Making” particularly inspiring. The session speakers distributed a curriculum that outlines how to train facilitators (such as the Gallery Educators at The Discovery) to engage visitors in math-focused exhibits. Written by the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, Megan found this curriculum exciting because it helps facilitators find math in unexpected places in museum exhibits.
A version of this profile originally appeared on the blog
of The Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum.