Three ASTC member organizations and one science center professional received Roy L. Shafer Leading Edge Awards on October 29 at the 2006 ASTC Annual Conference Banquet in Louisville, Kentucky.
Leading Edge Award for Business Practice (large institution)
Awarded to Orlando Science Center for Cocktails and the Cosmos, a monthly evening program for members and adult guests that combines food, drink, and a festive atmosphere with exhibits, films, laser light shows, and more. With events built around themes like The Science of Poker, Mystic India, and The Science of Big Hair (’80s Night), the center has turned its extended Friday hours, which once averaged 50 guests per night, into the “in” place to be for up to 1,200 visitors.
Leading Edge Award for Visitor Experience (large institution)
Awarded to The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, California, for TechTags, a program that personalizes and expands the science museum experience through small radio frequency identification (RFID) tags issued to each museum visitor. TechTags enable visitors to record their interactions with exhibits and create personal web sites accessible from home or school. The jury also praised the Tech’s willingness to share this technology with other institutions.
Leading Edge Award for Visitor Experience (small institution)
Awarded to the Hands On! Regional Museum in Johnson City, Tennessee, for its Eastman Discovery Lab, an inviting 675-square-foot exhibit area that opened in October 2005. With its smart board, computer-enhanced programs, distance learning capabilities, and hands-on experiments, the lab not only engages visitors but also serves as a highly regarded resource for the science educators of eastern Tennessee.
Leading Edge Award for Leadership in the Field — Award for Experienced Leadership
Bestowed upon an individual who joined the field before January 2003. Awarded to Tracy Calogheros, executive director of Exploration Place, Prince George, British Columbia, Canada. Within a year of being hired in 2003, Calogheros initiated a comprehensive Capacity Building Review by independent museum consultants. Based on their recommendations, and guided by their director’s enthusiasm and vision, the museum revamped its volunteer program, increasing volunteer hours 177 percent in two years; reorganized and re-energized its board and staff, reducing turnover; and increased school program participation by more than 400 percent.