On Tuesday June 19th, the folks on Capitol Hill were visited by students from two of ASTC’s member institutions: The New Jersey Academy for Aquatic Sciences (NJAAS) in Camden, and the Franklin Institute (FI) in Philadelphia. To increase awareness about the tremendous things happening in science centers around the country, students Chris Hernandez and Priscilla Quintana from the CAUSE program at the NJAAS, and Maya Patton and Chase Roberts from the PACTS program at the FI, participated in a series of meetings with: Dahlia Sokolov of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology; U.S. Representative Chaka Fattah (D-PA); U.S. Representative Robert E. Andrews (D-NJ); Theo Merkel from the office of U.S. Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA); Peter Nalli from the office of Senator Robert P. Casey (D-PA); and Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ).
The Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) is a global nonprofit organization of science centers and museums committed to raising public understanding of science’s role in solving critical societal issues, and its value in igniting and nurturing the innovative spirit that people of all ages need for success in today’s world. Founded in 1973, ASTC now represents over 600 members in 45 countries, and its members include not only science centers and museums, but also nature centers, aquariums, planetariums, zoos, botanical gardens, and natural history and children’s museums, as well as companies, consultants, and other organizations that share an interest in informal science education.Visit www.astc.org to learn more about ASTC and to find a science center near you.
On March 31, 2012, Youth@ Bruce held its second Tedx event, “The Olympic Spirit: Capturing the Moment,” which brought together the vision, philosophy, and creed of the Olympic spirit through inspirational speakers, leading up to the opening of the museum’s new exhibition, The Games. The first of two complementary exhibitions celebrating this summer’s 30th Olympiad in London, The Games showcases modern sports in an interactive Science Gallery exhibition that premieres SuperBodies, a cutting-edge 3D animation and original video production presented in both big screen video and mobile app game formats, illustrating the impact that various sports have on athletes. By peeling away human skin to reveal anatomically precise muscles, ligaments and bones in action, SuperBodies vividly depicts the physiological dynamics that drive athletic performance. Produced by Peacepoint Entertainment for Canadian television and exclusively licensed to the Bruce Museum for this exhibition, these videos feature summer Olympic sports including the 100-meter dash, triathlon, and balance beam, and include commentary from Greg Wells, Ph.D., a scientist and physiologist who works with elite athletes.
In addition to this cutting-edge technology, The Games will feature hands-on exploratory stations featuring authentic sporting equipment and Olympic Games athletic gear including wrestling uniforms, boxing gloves, javelins, and protective devices, as well as timing and other devices to test participants’ strength and reaction times. Also on view will be pins and collector memorabilia from past Olympic Games.
The Olympic spirit of the Museum will be celebrated in full when The Games is joined by the exhibition The Olympic Games: Art, Culture & Sport, which opened in the main galleries on May 12 and runs through September 2, 2012. The Games exhibition was developed in collaboration with the Bruce Museum’s youth committee Youth@Bruce.
Recently, the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center hosted nearly 90 fourth- through sixth-grade girls and 130 of their family members for the annual Tech Challenge engineering competition.
The girls, who attend Title I (low income) schools, are part of the Fleet’s SciTech after school program. During the weeks leading up to the competition, the girls were challenged to create a device to help clean up the plastic waste in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch without harming marine life. The girls spent weeks researching the problem and designing and testing their devices. They kept track of their design processes in notebooks, which they shared with the judges on the day of competition. Thanks to the Fleet’s partnership with Motorola, six female engineers served as judges during the event, which gave the competition an added layer of authenticity. The girls were excited (and a bit nervous) to learn that they would be presenting their designs to a group of professional women. This interaction with the judges will have a lasting impact on many of these young girls. The feedback from the girls’ parents was especially heartwarming. Many of these families had never been to the Fleet and this event offered them an opportunity to learn what science centers are all about. It was an inspiring day for all involved! To get a glimpse of the impact of this event, view this short video.
SciTech is an after school program developed by the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center for fourth through twelfth grade girls at San Diego schools. Each year the program inspires more than 200 girls to become innovative and creative thinkers by fostering excitement and interest in science, technology, and engineering. Through project-based learning and interaction with local women scientists, the girls make concrete connections to everyday life while developing creative thinking and problem solving skills that they will use throughout their lives.
The Techniekclub (Technology Club) program at Technopolis, the Flemish Science Centre, aims to introduce girls ages 10–12 to both engineering and technical careers, and contributes to Technopolis’ goals of bringing science and technology to the people and focusing on difficult-to-reach target groups.
No Boys Allowed
Every Technology Club consists of nine weekly sessions held at both Technopolis and other locations throughout Flanders. In each session, participants use their own ideas to make a technical piece of work, such as a clock, piggy bank, or necklace, while learning increasingly difficult techniques. The program provides girls with the opportunity to develop technical and engineering skills with the guidance of a female professional who can serve as a role model.
The participants use real tools and materials—electrical saws, drills, files, and pincers, and wood, metal, Plexiglas, screws, and nails—and they learn the correct techniques to handle them effectively and safely. One participant said, “I don’t brag about it, but still it is nice to say: I made this.”
The final session of each Technology Club is very special: the girls bring their mothers. Frequently, it is the first time the mothers do something technical. The mothers are always astonished by their daughter’s skills. One mother told us, “Our daughter now wants to do something with engineering in the future, she is now interested in technical professions.”
After their experience in the program, the girls continue to do engineering at home by helping to fix things. And even if they don’t choose a technical education, their new-found skills and knowledge contribute to future renovation or building projects. Since its inception in 2006, more than 500 girls have participated in Technology Clubs.
On February 26, 2011, Exploration Place, in partnership with the Wichita State University Engineering Education Department and the local chapter of the Society of Women Engineers, hosted the SciGals Science and Engineering day – a full day of science and engineering activities and career presentations specifically for girls ages 10-14. More than 290 girls participated a variety of exciting hands-on activities, including experimenting with roller coasters, circuits and wind turbines. Other activities included nanotechnology demonstrations, fossil identification, and memory challenge activities. SciGals attendees also learned about science and engineering careers from female STEM professionals representing Wichita State University, the National Institute for Aviation Research, and Sedgwick County Crime Lab.
The Super SciGals program is offered monthly at Exploration Place. Visit the Super SciGals program page for information on future offerings!
Since 1992, the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History and Ty Warner Sea Center’s Quasars to Sea Stars program has been engaging area teens in work-based science learning opportunities. Open to students ages 13-18, with targeted recruitment of students from backgrounds underrepresented in STEM careers, Quasars to Sea Stars is structured as a four-year, year-round experience for participants. For at least twelve hours per month during the school year and twelve hours per week during the summer, students work closely with educators and scientists to learn about the natural world, taking classes on topics like entomology, zoology, astronomy, marine biology, and anthropology. Students learn important life skills such as public speaking, computer competency, resume writing, and leadership. After completing 60 hours of community service, students can become paid staff members, working with Museum scientists and professionals in departments of their choice. The program’s 2010 graduating seniors are all pursuing higher education at major universities including UCLA, UC San Diego, University of Washington, and UC Berkeley.
The museum also partners with a variety of local agencies and organizations to recruit and support students, including the Santa Barbara School Districts; City of Santa Barbara Teen Program; the Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse; Isla Vista Teen Center; Academy of Healing Arts for Teens;the Orfalea Foundation; Endowment for Youth; Santa Barbara Adventure Company; Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf; Creative Wealth International; Domestic Violence Solutions; Just Communities Central Coast; University of California, Santa Barbara; Santa Barbara City College; and the Santa Barbara Scholarship Foundation.
For more information about Quasars to Sea Stars, visit the program homepage.
The Bruce Museum Youth Committee (Youth@Bruce) got together, on Sunday November 21st, to officially launch their fund raising campaign centered around the upcoming Arctic Sanctuary exhibition at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, CT. Youth@Bruce is partnering with Jeff Jones, photographer and co-author of the book Arctic Sanctuary: Images of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to engage other museum youth volunteers, youth environmental groups, friends, teachers, local politicians and scientists to gather together at the Youth@Bruce’s first sciCafe to discuss the environmental issues that their generation is inheriting. By taking ownership of a museum exhibition, Youth@Bruce has found an innovative way to expand their technology and marketing skills by using Kickstarter.com, “a new way to fund and follow creativity.” Any additional funds raised will go towards ongoing Youth@Bruce Projects such as the iCreate: Teen Art Show.
Established in 2009 as an extension of the Bruce Museum’s Youth Volunteers Program, Youth@Bruce is a student-based volunteer group designed to empower area high school students to become active volunteers at the Bruce Museum. Its mission is to elevate the volunteer experience for dedicated high school volunteers by engaging them in learning and managing opportunities that provide the teens with job skills and a visible role in the Bruce Museum. Currently consisting of approximately twelve Greenwich High School students, the Youth@Bruce members are selected from a group of over 130 youth volunteers who participate in a variety of activities at the Bruce Museum throughout the year. Youth@Bruce members have logged nearly 2,000 hours to date participating in Bruce Museum activities.
To support Youth@Bruce’s fundraising efforts, visit the kickstarter link at http://kck.st/cVupdu to pledge support, or just spread the word!
At a White House event on September 16th, President Obama endorsed the role of science centers and museums in helping today’s youth excel in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). A formal White House announcement on this topic specifically applauded the ASTC-led Youth Inspired Challenge, a major new initiative designed to expand the impact of science centers and museums to assist the nation’s youth to become the innovative and creative thinkers needed for the 21st century workforce. Inspired by President Barack Obama’s goal of strengthening the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) knowledge of America’s students, the Challenge—extended to more than 300 science centers in all 50 states—sets a three-year goal to engage thousands of youth, ages 10–19, in 2 million hours of science enrichment.
Expressing his support for the Youth Inspired Challenge, President Obama said, “Our success as a nation depends on strengthening America’s role as the world’s engine of discovery and innovation. I applaud the Association of Science-Technology Centers and its members for lending their resources, expertise, and their enthusiasm to the task of strengthening America’s leadership in the 21st century by improving education in science, technology, engineering and math.”
ASTC and its member institutions are well positioned to support the President’s goals. “It is an opportunity tragically missed if we fail to spark the interests of our young people in all that science has to offer,” states ASTC chief executive officer Anthony “Bud” Rock. “For this reason, science centers and museums located in communities throughout the country are providing unique educational programs that excite, energize, and enrich our understanding of science and its many applications. Our challenge is to provide more of these enriching opportunities to more students in more communities across America. Inspiration is not restricted to the youth who benefit from these learning opportunities, but also to the many people who work to ensure the continued successes of our science centers and museums everywhere.”