Intersections is a project of the National Writing Project (NWP) and ASTC, funded by the (U.S.) National Science Foundation (NSF). The project supports partnerships between ASTC-member science centers and NWP sites to design programs at the intersection of science and literacy learning. Intersections partners are developing and testing innovative programs for educators and youth while also creating a national learning network.
Building Capacity, Connecting Communities: A Guide to Using AmeriCorps VISTA Members in Science Centers and Museums
This guidebook (PDF) describes the process of running an AmeriCorps VISTA program and shares the experiences and lessons learned by ASTC and the science centers and museums who participated in the yearlong ASTC VISTA Community STEM initiative.
With the financial support of the DeWitt-Wallace Readers Digest Fund, YouthALIVE! was launched in 1991. ASTC members recognized the need for quality, multi-year programming for teens, especially in underserved communities, that would inspire them to pursue science subjects, learn leadership skills, and seek further education. Science center educator professional development, unique programming, mentoring, and involving youth as explainers were the key to success. During the decade-long funding period, 72 institutions received funding and in 2010, nearly 20 years later, Sneider and Burke reported 163 science centers and museums using youth programs, demonstrating the effectiveness of the YouthALIVE! model in sustainable programming. An additional follow-up study, called Roads Taken, took place in 2016–17 with a grant from NSF for a series of virtual convenings.
The Girls RISE Museum Network was an NSF-funded project for raising the capacity of science centers and museums to engage girls, especially minority girls, in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) learning through a network of regional hubs. The legacy website houses useful resources and is managed by the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science, Miami, Florida.
ExhibitFiles is an online community of exhibit practitioners building a shared collection of exhibition records and reviews. It is a place for professional exhibit developers, designers, educators, and others to connect with colleagues, find out about exhibits, and share background and know-how. ExhibitFiles was developed to preserve and share experiences and materials that are often unrecorded, temporary, and hard to locate. Museum exhibitions change, institutional staff members depart, and knowledge is often lost. The site builds on what others have done and learned and opens museum work to comment and review. ExhibitFiles was created with support from NSF by ASTC, Ideum, Independent Exhibitions, and a dedicated group of core contributors.
Youth Inspired Challenge
The Youth Inspired Challenge was a major initiative of ASTC, designed to expand the impact of science centers and museums to assist youth around the world to become the innovative and creative thinkers needed for the 21st century workforce. The international program was inspired by the commitment of President Obama and other world leaders to strengthening the STEM knowledge of the world’s youth. ASTC-member institutions offered valuable science education and youth employment programs outside the classroom to engage youth in a minimum of 2 million hours of science enrichment over three years from 2010 through 2013.
Noyce Leadership Institute
From the Noyce Foundation website:
“The Noyce Leadership Institute (NLI) hones leadership talents of executives in organizations that seek to engage their communities with science. NLI is committed to expanding the impact of these organizations in their communities by increasing the capacity of their leaders to manage change, focus outward, engage peers and form key partnerships. NLI envisions an essential and transformative role for organizations that engage citizens of every age in understanding crucial science issues. Leaders of such innovative hubs will be supported and challenged by the Noyce Leadership Institute to make the individual, organizational and community changes required to realize the vision.
From 2008–2015, 123 Fellows and 94 Sponsors participated in NLI. These individuals represent 95 institutions from 21 nations; these numbers continue to grow as NLI Alumni move in their careers. The active phase of the Noyce Leadership Fellowship concluded with the seventh and final cohort in 2015. Currently, the Alumni network continues to engage in shared learning opportunities.”
Institute for New Science Centers
In 1987, ASTC received NSF support for professional development of science center administrators and board members. The program targeted science centers in the planning phase of development, and centers less than five years old. The decade-long Institute focused on essential functions of a science center, highlighting areas like management, funding, interactive exhibits, and educational programming. It included practical sessions where participants presented materials about their own organizational plans. In subsequent years, knowledge and programming developed through these grants continues to be applied to capacity building and professional development for newly emerging science centers globally—most notably in Sri Lanka, South Korea, and South Africa.
Teacher Educator’s Network (TEN)
TEN emerged from an NSF award to ASTC in 1990 to fund a three-year program around an institute for teacher educators at science museums. The goal was to enhance the knowledge and skills of 90 science center educators in professional development for 9,000 elementary school teachers. The program ran as a series of summer institutes. The TEN community continues to thrive decades later through sessions and an annual gathering at the ASTC Annual Conference and an active community of practice in which teacher educators from science centers and museums share resources and effective practices. For more information contact Margaret Glass, ASTC’s director of professional development.
Search additional professional development resources in the ASTC archive.