Brief Educational Session Recaps: Sunday, October 14

(Recaps written by Kenzie Moore, COSI membership processing associate and ASTC 2012 communications volunteer)

Teens Teach Space: Engaging Youth in Planetarium Programming
Museums are relying more and more on a teen/youth-based volunteer pool, but how do you make sure that both the teen and the center are getting the most out of the partnership? Two presenters from space centers in the U.S. shared with ASTC attendees their biggest takeaway points from their recent years involving teens in planetarium programs. Important details for institutions just beginning to wade into teen- and youth-focused involvement? Teens need more support and training to get the requisite presentational skills, the adults working with teens need clear scaffolding of what is expected of them in a leadership or cooperative role, and teens frequently benefit from having a chance to practice their roles. The key takeaway for centers with an established youth program? Give teens a chance to shine. Give them a voice in the scheduling of programs they’ll be involved with, get their feedback about what kind of programming or hands-on activities they’d like to do. It’s their center too.

Membership Best Practices Roundtable
It’s no news that members are an important part of any successful museum, but some of the ideas flying around the room today were certainly new ways of approaching those members. From installation payments instead of yearly payments to in-depth tracking of the unique ways each member uses their membership, the roundtable featured newly established practices, a few tales of development missteps, and a healthy dose of reminders to not reinvent the wheel. Members are special, and should be treated as such, but moving forward, shouldn’t we take every chance to personalize our approach to groups of similar members? Just how big of a role do the benefits play in a member’s perceived value of their relationship which your institution? (Hint: a big one.)

Bring the Noise: Doing Demonstrations with Sound
A demonstration doesn’t have to be expensive, and it doesn’t have to be something you can only do in the safety of your home base. A series of glasses filled with varying levels of water. A popsicle stick with string, paper, pencil erasers, and a rubber band. A cheap, corrugated plastic tube. Any of these can be turned into a quick, cheap, hands-on demonstration appropriate for in-house or outreach efforts. You can acquire these simply supplies just about anywhere and what you can’t find in a store, you can order through science supply services. Noise demonstrations can be interesting, budget-friendly, and very interactive. A Slinky makes the invisible (sound waves) visible. PVC pipes, ethanol, and a lighter can make a fascinating visual display while coaching kids through observations about wavelength and pitch. If you’re really gutsy, you can even buy a bullwhip to show what happens when you break a sound wave. Just, please, for your safety and the viewers’, watch the training videos.