A Few Days Among Our Science Center Peers

Sometimes I get lost in our busy daily routine and forget about the big picture. That is one of the reasons I enjoy attending the Association of Science-Technology Centers’s annual conference. ASTC, for short, is a global organization that provides a collective voice to science centers, museums, and related institutions. Like every year, I shared a few days with over 1,000 individuals representing these institutions while talking to many about the wonders of Frost Science, those that fuel our work. It is refreshing to witness the excitement and anticipation our project prompts among our peers. This year’s conference was hosted by the Museum of Science and Industry on September 24-27, just up the road, in Tampa.

As we get closer to our opening, Frost Science was there to share the highlights of the project with our colleagues, and learn from the best science center professionals in the field. Our President, Frank Steslow, led a party including Chelle King, Dr. Angela Colbert, Lindsay Bartholomew, Cheryl Juarez, Daniella Orihuela and myself.

Our team guided and participated in sessions about many different topics. I got to present in two, one about how to facilitate the creative enhancement and expansion of planetarium content about astronomy and other fields of science; and a second one about how to factor diversity within and across languages into the bigger picture of community engagement at institutions like ours that serve multilingual communities. Furthermore, I got to wander through the conference’s exhibit hall, filled, as always, with the latest exhibitions, products, and services designed and offered with science centers in mind.

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Among our team, Chelle talked about citizen science best practices for science centers; Angela talked about science centers affecting formal education through community engagement; Lindsay talked about reaching new audiences through community collaborations using NASA resources; and Cheryl talked about creating inclusive learning experiences for girls in STEM fields, and instigating systemic change in increasing the STEM pipeline by means of informal science education. Finally, Daniella, like I did last year, had the privilege to attend the conference as a 2016 ASTC Fellow.

Despite the long days in Tampa, and the work piling up back at home, the conference was a great experience and success. The lessons learned in the many sessions we attended will prove invaluable as we approach our opening date.

We cannot wait for next year’s conference, hosted by our colleagues at The Tech Museum of Innovation, all the way in San Jose, CA, where we will be able to finally unveil to everyone in our field the wonders of a new and open museum.

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