2008 Leading Edge Award Recipients

Four ASTC member organizations and two science center professionals received Roy L. Shafer Leading Edge Awards on October 19 at the 2008 ASTC Annual Conference Banquet in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Leading Edge Award for Business Practice (large institution)

Awarded to the Saint Louis Science Center, Saint Louis, Missouri, for its Strategy Playbook for the Body Worlds 3 exhibition. In addition to implementing a plan to fulfill visitor expectations and provide excellent customer service for the crowds drawn by the exhibition, the Science Center also reduced staffing expenses, raised staff morale, and created a sense of common purpose among staff at the same time. The institution’s “Visitor Satisfaction Score” increased during the exhibition’s 5-month run, which was experienced by more than 330,000 visitors.

Leading Edge Award for Visitor Experience (small institution)

Awarded to the National Canal Museum, Easton, Pennsylvania, for its new permanent exhibitions, The Science and Technology of Canals and Inland Waterways. Since opening in 2006, the exhibits have been enjoyed by over 456,000 visitors and have transformed the National Canal Museum from a didactic, artifacts-based history museum for canal buffs into an interactive and engaging science and history center for visitors of all ages.

Leading Edge Award for Visitor Experience (large institution)

Awarded to Ontario Science Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and the Virginia Living Museum, in Newport News, Virginia.

Ontario Science Centre, accepted its award for putting its Agents of Change initiative into practice with the Weston Family Innovation Centre, transforming not only the centre’s physical space, but also its approach to visitor engagement. The new experiences encourage the attitudes, skills, and behaviors needed to address 21st century challenges.

The Virginia Living Museum won its “Edgie” for Survivor: Jamestown, an immersive maze exhibition set in 1607 Tidewater Virginia, where basic game theory, history, free will, and the complexities of life and death decisions are joined to create a memorable and effective learning experience for role-playing visitors of all ages. ASTC member Minotaur Mazes help create the exhibition.

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

Bestowed upon an individual who joined the field after January 2005. Awarded to Cynthia Graville-Smith, education technology and development manager at the Saint Louis Science Center. Smith designed, built, and managed the online community for the Youth Exploring Science (YES) program at the center, used Web 2.0 technologies as a vehicle for showcasing the work of YES teens, and aided the projection of ‘at risk’ urban youth as scientists to audiences inside and outside the institution.

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

Bestowed upon an individual who joined the field before January 2005. Awarded to Ingit Mukhopadhyay, director general of India’s National Council of Science Museums. Mukhopadhyay has addressed the critical professional development needs in developing countries where the demand for science centers is increasing while the availability of leaders to create and operate them have not kept pace. He partnered with institutions and universities worldwide and engaged guest faculties to provide students with the widest possible exposure to some of the best pedagogical and professional practices in the science center field.