The digital publication of the Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC)

A Moonshot Moment for Science Engagement

By Cristin Dorgelo

This issue of Dimensions takes a close look at “moonshots”—ambitious yet achievable goals to address significant challenges for the public good.

Later this month, the ASTC community will gather for the 2019 ASTC Annual Conference, hosted by the Ontario Science Centre in Toronto. I’m grateful to all of you who are traveling to join us, and to the Ontario Science Centre team and ASTC staff for their hard work on what promises to be a memorable and impactful convening.

As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing and reflect on the progress of our field over the past decades, we’ll be talking together about what’s in store for our work in the decades ahead. We’ll be sharing ideas, learning together, and making plans for how our field of science learning and engagement can demonstrate “moonshot thinking.”

I hope you find inspiration in these pages. In “Moonshots in Our Reach,” I share my own personal journey with moonshots and grand challenges and reflect on the exciting, ambitious, and collaborative moonshot programs I’ve seen developing across institutions, sectors, and borders. “The Third Generation” outlines some of the historic breakthroughs in science center offerings and the possibilities for what’s to come. “Science Versus Fiction” posits that science centers must work together to effectively fight authoritarianism and ignorance. “Sacred Cows” provides exercises to help foster moonshot-level creative thinking. “Monday Night Science” envisions a world in which people are as excited about feats of science as they are about professional sports. “A Moonshot for the Palais de la Découverte” describes an old museum undergoing big changes. And “Why Don’t Cars Run on Apple Juice?” offers inspiration to science centers to dream big, connect with their communities, and enhance their relevance.

This is a critical time in our society for science engagement—for the work of ASTC members to support lifelong science learning, connect science and society, engage diverse audiences, and partner to tackle global and local challenges. ASTC has developed a strategy to support our members to thrive now and in the future, and our new strategic direction represents a pivot toward deeper ongoing collaboration with our members and partners.

Here’s how moonshot thinking is manifesting at ASTC. Working inclusively, collaboratively, humbly, and effectively with our members and partners, we aim to

  • champion public engagement with science by elevating the work of science and technology centers and museums, forging new collaborations across the science-engagement ecosystem, and investing in communications and advocacy
  • set course together for new frontiers and an equitable future, supporting our members to act on societal trends with their communities, and embrace effective approaches that advance equitable engagement in science and technology
  • support and connect our members to facilitate learning, catalyze shared efforts, share data, and cultivate leadership and skills across the science center workforce
  • We at ASTC stand ready to support you in pursuit of your moonshots, whatever they may be. We can’t wait to see what you do next.

    Cristin Dorgelo is ASTC’s President and CEO.

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