2007 Leading Edge Award Recipients

Four ASTC member organizations and two science center professionals received Roy L. Shafer Leading Edge Awards on October 13 at the 2007 ASTC Annual Conference Banquet in Los Angeles, California.

Leading Edge Award for Business Practice (large institution)

Awarded to EdVenture Children’s Museum in Columbia, South Carolina, for its Afterschool Initiative. Comprising four distinct programs—Club EdVenture, Enrichment Field Studies, Future Leaders, and Science Jam—the initiative has not only boosted annual attendance with 15,000 additional youth participants, but also become a significant net revenue source, with annual income exceeding $200,000. The initiative meets critical community needs, serves diverse audiences, and has positioned EdVenture as a leader in after-school issues.

Leading Edge Award for Visitor Experience (small institution)

Awarded to the Clore Garden of Science in Rehovot, Israel, for its EcoSphere, a geodesic glass structure in which visitors can physically experience and explore environmental phenomena through hands-on experiments. With its terrestrial and aquatic plants, pools with small fish and fresh water crabs, and six workstations, the EcoSphere is an ideal venue for understanding the interdependence of biological systems.

Leading Edge Award for Visitor Experience (large institution)

Awarded to MIDE, Museo Interactivo de Economía in Mexico City, Mexico, and the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI), in Portland.

MIDE, Museo Interactivo de Economía, accepted its award for pioneering an interactive museum in which economics, science, history, architecture, and art meet. MIDE opened in July 2006 in a restored 18th-century convent. Its exhibitions foster dialogue and invite visitors to discover not only basic economic concepts but also complex social issues, such as poverty, development, and environmental sustainability. MIDE’s Market Simulator, created with ASTC-member Magian Design Studio, won the American Association of Museums’ 2007 Gold Muse Award for Interpretive Interactive Installations.

OMSI received its award for partnering with libraries to provide underserved rural communities with access to high-quality science education through the NASA-funded STARS (Science, Technology, and Rural Students) project. By integrating in-person and distance-learning technologies, STARS has been able to offer workshops to more than 240 teachers, librarians, and administrators in 18 counties. The program has also brought OMSI’s Discovery Dome portable planetarium to nearly 50 communities and made telescopes and global positioning units available for check-out at 47 public libraries.

Leading Edge Award for Leadership in the Field — Award for New Leadership

Bestowed upon an individual who joined the field after January 2004. Awarded to George Sparks, president and chief executive officer at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science (DMNS) since November 2004. With staff, Sparks has created a new vision for DMNS, immersing the institution in community partnerships, working to attract and retain a diverse workforce, and making the museum more attractive and accessible. During his short tenure, he has increased the DMNS budget for training and professional development by 300 percent.

Leading Edge Award for Leadership in the Field — Award for Experienced Leadership

Bestowed upon an individual who joined the field before January 2004. Awarded to Jane Werner, executive director of the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh since 1999. Werner led the museum through a $28 million capital campaign that culminated in the grand reopening of an expanded, LEED-certified, award-winning facility in 2004. But the change was more than just architectural. She also took the opportunity to invite local child-focused groups to move into the new building. By linking educational and cultural organizations throughout Pittsburgh, Werner has made the children’s museum a “go-to” place for advice on community partnerships and created a model of institutional citizenship from which all museums can benefit.