If you're planning a
science center, these resources and tips may be helpful to you.
began as a storefront operation then became part of
redevelopment of Cardiff Bay.
Photo courtesy Techniquest
about science center planning
a strong relationship with your community
about exhibits and how to plan them
about learning in informal settings
about public understanding of science
a case statement
a demonstration project
a business plan
Read about science center planning
get a broad overview of science center philosophy and practice,
start with A Place for Learning
Science: Starting a Science Center and Keeping It Running,
by Sheila Grinell. This 2003 ASTC publication, written by a museum
director with more than 30 years' experience with start-ups, covers
the essentials of planning and management and includes a variety
of viewpoints from both within and outside the field.
a strong relationship with your community
support and form strategic alliances. Consult Seeking
Synergy: Creating a Museum Collaborative That Works,
by Victoria Crawford Coats (OMSI). This publication examines
the benefits and pitfalls of museum collaboratives in this
book that grew out of the Exhibit Research Collaborative.
Also see Collaboration:
Critical Criteria for Success, by the Pacific
Science Center and SLi.
to know your audience. Check out our section on Visitor
Studies for resources,
including how to get in touch with AAM's Committee on Audience
Research and Evaluation and the Visitor Studies Association.
CARE maintains a list of consultants.
out these articles from ASTC Dimensions about science
and Conversation: Building Relationships Through Adult Programming,
by Joan L. Parrett, ASTC
Dimensions, July/August 2003.
Demographic Denial: Retaining Relevance in the New Millennium,
by Eric J. Jolly, ASTC Dimensions, January/February
Advice: How People with Disabilities Are Making a Difference
in Science Centers, ASTC
Dimensions, July/August 2000.
Hours: A Time for Children and Science Centers,
by DeAnna Banks Beane, ASTC Dimensions, November/December
Consult the American
Association of Museums publication
Visitor Surveys: A User's Manual, by Randi Korn and
Laurie Sowd. Visit the AAM web site for more information
Learn about learning in informal settings
Resources are rich, and multiplyingcheck the Education section of the Resource Center, and browse ASTC publications.
Read Museum-School Bridges: A Legacy of Progressive Education, by George E. Hein, ASTC Dimensions, January/February 2004.
Become familiar with your area's science standards for schools and with any national standards. Because providing rich learning environments and experiences for both students and teachers is one of a science center's major areas of community service, be sure to give high priority to developing partnerships and working with the schools.
In the United States, the National Academy of Sciences publishes the National Science Education Standards.
Benchmarks for Science Literacy were published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science as part of Project 2061.
Read about public understanding of science
Science and Engineering Indicators, a study published every two years by the National Science Foundation, includes data on public understanding of science in the United States.
Check the Science and Policy area of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) web site.
Prepare a case statement
See the Making the Case section of the Resource Center for references and links to articles that support the science center case.
Making the Case for Science Centers was the theme of the January/February 2001 issue of ASTC Dimensions.
Arts and Cultural Prosperity, a resource maintained by Americans for the Arts, provides background on economic impact of cultural institutions.
Plan a demonstration project
While planning is under way, you can begin to establish a community presence and build public support by participating in or staging programs and events. For ideas, see the Pacific Science Center's Science Center Know How, and the Science Museum of Minnesota's Let's Try It...and See What Happens!.
Rent a traveling exhibition. Check what's available from ASTC's Exhibition Services; feel free to call 202/783-7200 x117 for help.
Plan your facility
Make accessibility for all visitors a priority as you plan or expand your facility. View the Accessible Practices area of the Resource Center.
Architecture and Exhibition Design: A Survey of Infrastructure, by Charles H. Howarth Jr. and Maeryta A. Medrano, is a shorter bulletin based on surveys of 10 institutions.
Vision to Reality: Critical Dimensions in Science Center Development is a four-part report that identifies the critical dimensions in starting a science center, based on research carried out in 1992.
Develop a business plan
Order the ASTC Bulletin Business Planning for New Facilities, by Charles Trautmann.
Read Earned Income: Where's the Potential?, by Sheila Grinell, ASTC Dimensions, May/June 2000.
Building a Base of Support is the theme of the May/June 2001 issue of ASTC Dimensions.
Science Center Workforce 2001: An ASTC Report provides background on benefits, turnover rates, diversity, and other workforce issues, including salaries in key positions, in U.S. science centers, at the time of the report.
Building and Maintaining a Diverse, High-Quality Workforce, a publication of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, provides useful guidance for other employers.
The U.S. Department of Labor's Employment Checklist for Hiring Persons with Disablitities is also a useful guide.
Go to the ASTC Annual Conference.
Check out ASTC RAPs (Roundtables for Advancing the Professions) in your area.
Subscribe to ISEN-ASTC-L, an e-mail list that links informal science educators from around the world, many of whom work in ASTC-member institutions as educators, exhibit developers, evaluators, and visitor services staff.
Subscribe to ASTC Dimensions, the bimonthly news journal of the science center field.
Check the Professional Development section to find resources and opportunities offered by other Science Center Networks and Related Organizations.
To order a publication from ASTC, or to subscribe to the bimonthly journal ASTC Dimensions, contact ASTC Publications at 202/783-7200 x 140; fax 202/783-7207; or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.