ASTC’s Impact & Initiatives

Science and technology centers and museums work to inclusively and equitably engage communities, families, and individuals in STEM. To elevate and support the work of our members, ASTC develops and partners on initiatives that grow and scale effective science engagement approaches, build professional capacity among science engagement experts, and strengthen collaborations across the science engagement ecosystem.

Each ASTC initiative aligns with one of three core areas and reflects ASTC’s strategic commitment to helping our members thrive—now and in the future.

Champion public engagement with science

These initiatives elevate the work of science centers and museums, forge new collaborations across the science-engagement ecosystem, and reflect ASTC’s investment in communications and advocacy.

  • Advocacy and Public Policy – Follow ASTC’s work in advocating for policies, resources, partnerships, and other actions that advance the work of our members. You’ll also find  tools and resources to help you make the case for your work.
  • Member Stories – Explore the work of ASTC members to support lifelong science learning, connect science and society, engage diverse communities, and partner to tackle global and local challenges.
  • LISTEN Network – Learn how this network connects and supports leaders of science engagement organizations and associations in co-learning and collective action around equitable science engagement.

Set course together for new frontiers

These initiatives support ASTC members to prepare and lead with their communities, act on market and societal trends, and embrace effective approaches that advance equitable engagement in science and technology.

  • Community Science – ASTC has launched multiple programs for science-engagement practitioners and scientists to collaborate with community members and do science that advances community priorities.
    • Thriving Earth Exchange Fellows Program – A service and professional development opportunity for committed individuals who are eager to facilitate and lead collaborative, co-developed community science projects that produce on-the-ground impact in local communities.
  • Corals Matter – Supporting science centers in helping the public better understand the global threats to coral reefs, how researchers are trying to save them, and how we all can help.
  • Cultural Competence Learning Institute (CCLI) – A cohort program and a set of resources designed to help museums increase their organizational capacity around diversity, inclusion, and culture.
  • IF / THEN© Gender Equity Project – Supporting science centers to increase the representation of women and gender minorities in STEM within their exhibits, programming, and communications.
  • Voya Foundation STEM Futures Initiative – Voya STEM Futures provides grants to science museums in seven locations nationally. Participating museums are afforded the opportunity to develop meaningful, innovative and sustainable programming that has a direct and measurable impact on a child’s interest in pursuing STEM degrees and careers.

Support and connect members

These initiatives learning and collaboration among ASTC members, spread ideas that work, and cultivate leadership skills across our members’ workforce.

  • Communities of Practice – Connect with others who share your professional concerns or passions in one of the 30+ communities dedicated to improving practice and advancing the science engagement field.
  • Conferences and Events – Year-round opportunities for professionals to learn about a variety of emerging issues in the science and technology center and museum field, engage in conversations about what is happening on the ground, and connect with colleagues in topical discussion groups.
  • Collaboration for Ongoing Visitor Experience Studies (COVES) – A community for North American museums to systematically collect, analyze, and report on visitor experience data.
  • Dimensions Magazine – ASTC’s award-winning, bimonthly magazine features valuable insights into trends, practices, innovations, and crucial issues affecting the field, as well as practical solutions shared among institutions.
  • Diversity and Leadership Development Fellowship Program – Supporting the professional growth and retention of science-engagement professionals of diverse backgrounds currently working in science and technology centers and museums.
  • Informal STEM Learning Professional Competency Framework – An online tool for individuals, institutions, and organizations to understand, plan, and advance their professional capacity in the field of informal STEM learning.
  • International Science Center and Science Museum Day (ISCSMD) – An annual event to showcase how the world’s science centers are engaging their communities to address local and global sustainability challenges.
  • NASA’s Universe of Learning – Professional development for educators that draws on science directly from NASA Astrophysics, and support for informal education institutions to develop innovative STEM learning models.
  • Roads Taken – An NSF-funded study documenting the long-term impact of STEM-focused out-of-school time youth programming and exploring the connections between program design and participant outcomes.
  • Roy L. Shafer Leading Edge Awards – Presented annually to ASTC members in recognition of extraordinary accomplishments that not only enhance the performance of their own institutions but also significantly advance the mission of science centers and museums.
  • Travel Passport Program – By joining this program, ASTC-member science centers and museums offer reciprocal free general admission benefits to their members when they travel.

The Center for Advancement of Informal Science Education (CAISE)

ASTC proudly houses the Center for Advancement of Informal Science Education (CAISE), whose work not only benefits the ASTC community, but strengthens and advances the broader professional field of informal STEM education and science engagement.

Funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), CAISE serves as the NSF resource center for the Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program and manages InformalScience.org, a database of evidence-based science engagement projects and publications. Learn more.

Scroll to Top