The Association of Science and Technology Center (ASTC) has presented Jamie Bell with the ASTC Fellow Award for Outstanding Contribution. The award, bestowed by the ASTC Board of Directors, is the association’s highest honor and is presented to individuals who have performed exemplary service to the field and furthered the public understanding of science. Jamie was surprised with the honor during the ASTC 2022 Annual Conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
For more than a decade, Jamie has served as Project Director and Principal Investigator for the Center for Advancement of Informal Science Education (CAISE), a resource center for the National Science Foundation’s Advancing Informal STEM Learning (STEM) program based at ASTC.
According to the citation, Jamie was recognized
For providing exemplary leadership as the Principal Investigator and Project Director of the Center for Advancement of Informal Science Education—while acting as a trusted colleague, respected advisor, and invaluable contributor to the field of informal science education. James’ years of service were truly transformational; his leadership on informal STEM learning experiences has strengthened relationships with science for countless people.
In its 48-year history, the ASTC Fellow Award has only been presented 31 times, most recently in 2015. Previous recipients include ASTC leaders and Members of Congress.
Jamie began his career as an explainer at the Exploratorium, and as co-director of the high school Explainer program there, he played a leadership role in YouthALIVE!, a decade-long, field-wide initiative whose goal was to engage underserved and underrepresented youth in the life of science centers and museums by providing learning, employment, and volunteer opportunities. Jamie also co-developed the Active Prolonged Engagement project, which integrated research and practice in new exhibit development and provided equal voice for practitioners and researchers in the process and resulting publications. After leaving the Exploratorium, Jamie developed content for teacher professional learning at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and consulted on science center math exhibit development at TERC. Jamie also spent 3 years in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia developing a Center of Learning department at Petrosains: The Discovery Center.
Jamie had this to say on his honor:
I am humbled by this recognition from the ASTC Board of Directors. It has been a privilege and a pleasure to serve the informal STEM learning field in my role at CAISE. I am grateful to the co-PIs, staff, advisors, evaluators, and countless participants, past and present, who have contributed to our knowledge and community-building efforts since 2007. This work was only possible with the original and ongoing vision, support, and input from the National Science Foundation Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL, formerly known as ISE) program, and the collaborative leadership of ASTC.
When I reflect on CAISE’s resource center role as the STEM engagement community has continued to evolve, diversify, and adapt, I’ve learned that the field is always bigger than you think, so one should remain curious about what can be learned from others’ work, and at the same time it is also smaller than you think, so it is important to follow up on every contact, question, or request, in order to build and strengthen trusting, generative relationships and networks.
Jamie holds a BFA from Carnegie Mellon University and an EdM from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. In 2022, he was elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and currently serves as a Member-at-Large on the Steering Committee for the AAAS Section on Education. He is a member of the Council of Experts for Advancing Research Impact in Society and a Senior Advisor for the Association of Science Communicators.