2011 Leading Edge Award Recipients

Six ASTC member organizations and one science center professional received Roy L. Shafer Leading Edge Awards on October 15 at the 2011 ASTC Annual Conference in Baltimore, Maryland.

Leading Edge Award for Business Practice

Awarded to the International Centre for Life, Newcastle Upon Tyne, England, U.K., and Philippine Science Centrum, in Manila, Philippines.

The International Centre for Life was recognized for Sustainability Through Diversity. The Centre has rendered itself sustainable for the foreseeable future by developing a business portfolio that provides funds for the center’s dual missions of public science engagement and support for world-class scientific research. The institution runs on revenue generated from two onsite cafés, a parking garage, a conference and banqueting business, and leases not only to university laboratories, but also to popular bars and nightclubs.

Philippine Science Centrum won its “Edgie” for Typhoon Ondoy: Rapid Response & Recovery. On September 26, 2009, Typhoon Ondoy sent nine-foot-high flood waters into the science center, submerging its exhibits and traveling exhibitions. Within 24 hours, the center’s staff and trustees met and immediately started the first steps of rebuilding, launching a fundraising campaign called Project 926 with the goal of raising 9 million Philippine pesos (about $210,000) in two ways (cash and in-kind assistance) within six months. The center reopened to the public less than six weeks after the typhoon hit, and was fully restored after four and a half months.

Leading Edge Award for Visitor Experience (small institution)

Awarded to Amazement Square, Lynchburg, Virginia, and Oak Hammock Marsh Interpretive Centre, in Oak Hammock Marsh, Manitoba, Canada.

Amazement Square received its award for the Amazing Adventures of Scorpy Bug, a curriculum-based cartoon series designed to help educators take an interactive and interdisciplinary approach to teaching challenging concepts. The series has been made available free-of-charge to teachers and families through publication in the regional newspaper and through a comic book series that addresses specific scientific topics. Scorpy is integrated across all museum platforms: exhibitions, outreach programs, website, and community and school partnerships.

Oak Hammock Marsh Intrepretive Centre was recognized for its Wetland Outreach programming. Migratory birds depend on wetlands, and many species are endangered due to wetland destruction. In the past three years, the center fostered public awareness among students and educators across a vast geographic area on the value of wetlands through several outreach programs. The “Wetlands On-the-Go” team delivered programs to 56,000 students in 2,500 classrooms in over 100 communities in three Canadian provinces. The centre also held eight workshops for teachers in six Caribbean locations and provided educational resources to underserved communities.

Leading Edge Award for Visitor Experience (large institution)

Awarded to Chabot Space & Science Center, Oakland, California, and the Museum of Science and Industry, in Chicago, Illinois.

Chabot Space & Science Center accepted its award for Bill Nye’s Climate Lab, a media-rich, hands-on exhibition that explores the effects of climate change on Earth’s interconnected systems and offers activities that increase climate and energy literacy. Each visitor receives a “Climate Scout ID” — an RFID card that is automatically detected as the visitor moves from station to station, achieving solutions to climate challenges and earning points. Exhibit activity is stored on the ID, which can be taken home and used to log in on BillsClimateLab.org.

The Museum of Science and Industry received its “Edgie” for Science Storms, a 26,000-square-foot (2,400-square-meter) permanent exhibition that features dynamic large-scale experiments that explore nature’s most powerful phenomena. Visitors can manipulate the vortex variables of a 40-foot tornado, unleash a tsunami in a 30-foot wave tank, trigger an avalanche, pit fire against water to see how flame reacts to different conditions, and more. ASTC members Chicago Scenic Studios, Inc., Evidence Design, Lexington, Mad Systems, and PRG helped create the exhibition.

Leading Edge Award for Experienced Leadership in the Field

Awarded to Clarence Sirisena, assistant chief executive (projects and exhibition division), Science Centre Singapore. Sirisena was honored for spearheading several international exhibition collaborations, and for researching and sharing with the science center field the newest approaches in traveling exhibitions development and management.