Field Development

Creativity Garden

Creativity Garden is an ASTC minigrant program that was generously supported in its first year by Disney. It has provided $8,000 minigrants to 87 ASTC-member institutions to design and implement programming around science and creativity. Most programs specifically targeted children and youth from Title I schools.

NASA’s Universe of Learning

ASTC is working with the “Universe of Learning” team at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) to create and implement professional development experiences for the informal education community using innovative science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) learning models that draw on astrophysics assets and resources. NASA’s “Universe of Learning” program is a five-year Science Education Cooperative Agreement between NASA’s Science Mission Directorate and STScI.

YOUmedia Learning Labs Community of Practice

The YOUmedia Learning Labs Community of Practice (CoP) is an open community for educators across learning ecosystems to network, share resources, and support professional development practices around creating interest-based learning experiences for youth and teens that are powered by science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM). This project is inspired by the YOUmedia Learning Labs Network and funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

Examining Contextual Factors that Influence the Implementation of Projects Designed to Improve Cultural Diversity in Informal STEM Programming

Using the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Celebrating Urban Birds (CUBs) citizen-science program, this project addresses gaps in equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) in STEM education by examining contextual factors that influence implementation and practice of STEM programs in underserved communities. The project community is creating a set of recommendations about effective methods for improving EDI at informal STEM institutions and community-based organizations. Funded by the (U.S.) National Science Foundation (NSF), ECF is led by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York; ASTC, the Garibay Group, Chicago; the Lifelong Learning Group, COSI, Columbus, Ohio; and the Association of Children’s Museums, Arlington, Virginia.

Energy Education Initiative

ASTC and the Museum Institute for Teaching Science, Quincy, Massachusetts, in partnership with BP America, are developing the Energy Education Initiative. The project helps educators prepare students to be the energy innovators of tomorrow and includes educator workshops, effective models for teacher professional development, and curated online resources. Drawing on the expertise of ASTC members, the resource website provides teachers, families, and science center staff with a portal to concrete resources and activities.

Collaboration for Ongoing Visitor Experience Studies (COVES)

COVES, an IMLS-funded initiative, is a transformative data service—created by museum professionals for museum professionals—to help institutions be more effective and economically strong through collaborative collection, analysis, and interpretation of visitor experience data. The Museum of Science, Boston, and ASTC are collaborating with COSI, Columbus, Ohio; Discovery Center Museum, Rockford, Illinois; Exploratorium, San Francisco, California; New York Hall of Science, Queens, New York; Science Museum of Minnesota, Saint Paul; and Saint Louis Science Center.

ISL Professional Framework

ASTC and other partners are developing a professional framework for the field of informal STEM learning (ISL) through this collaborative NSF-funded project. Partners include the Lifelong Learning Group, COSI, Columbus, Ohio; Oregon State University’s Center for Research on Lifelong STEM Learning, Corvalis, Oregon; Pacific Science Center, Seattle, Washington; and University of Washington’s Museology Department, Seattle. The ISL Professional Framework project addresses two issues

  • ensuring that professionals working in science center-type settings have the necessary knowledge and skills to apply the substantial and growing evidence base in ISL
  • understanding and supporting the needs of the full range of ISL professionals during their basic education and at particular points throughout their careers.

Connected Science Learning Journal

Connected Science Learning is a peer-reviewed, online journal highlighting STEM education experiences that bridge the gap between in-school and out-of-school settings. A joint initiative of the National Science Teachers Association and ASTC that is funded by NSF, the journal features articles about highly effective programs and shares research that connects preK–12 STEM learning in classroom and non-school learning environments, specifically highlighting effective mechanisms for collaboration.

Reflecting on Practice

Reflecting on Practice is a professional learning program for informal science educators—including educators who work at science centers and museums—developed at the Lawrence Hall of Science, Berkeley, California. The program immerses all an organization’s educators in discussions about, reflections on, and applications of research and theory on learning and teaching science. Experiences within the program create and strengthen a shared knowledge base and professional language among the members of an education team. It makes public the practices of all educators through greater understanding of, and reflections on, their beliefs, goals, and actions.