@ASTC: Tinkering with Creativity

In the world of museums and education, it’s just as important to share your projects, challenges, and accomplishments, as it is to learn about the projects, challenges, and accomplishments of others. Miami Science Museum staff recently attended the ASTC (Association of Science-Technology Centers) conference in Baltimore to do just that.  Museum staff presented at multiple sessions:

Girls RISEnet: The goal of this workshop was to enhance the participants’ knowledge of equity issues involving girls, and in particular girls of minority backgrounds, with respect to pathways to careers in science and engineering. Workshop participants became more familiar with the project’s nationwide network of 11 museums and science centers which serve as regional hubs, and also learned about opportunities for mini-grants for institutions seeking to create gender-related programs. www.girlsrisenet.org

Heart Smart: Museum staff gave a presentation related to a SEPA (Science Education Partnership Awards) grant project and the Museum’s Heart Smart exhibit. It focused on the unique collaboration between a museum and a university (University of Miami) in conducting research in museum settings. UM brought content and research expertise to the table, and learned how to translate research to other audiences. The Museum brought to the table established relationships with schools and the community, and obtained more evidence-based findings on using Museum visitors as research participants in order to create more personalized experiences. www.miamisci.org/www/heartsmart.html

YouthEXPO: At a NASA meeting for all NASA grantees, Museum staff gave updates to other grantees about the achievements and special events associated with YouthEXPO. And at NASA’s Astronomy and Aerospace Showcase Session, which features innovative programs and materials, the Museum shared information and the video created for a special event in which Leland Melvin, NASA Associate Administrator for Education (and Astronaut and former NFL football player) spoke to students in the Museum’s youth development programs. www.miamisci.org/~youthexp/

It’s important to wind down and have fun at the end of the day, so conference attendees were asked to dress in costume for the annual ASTC Tinkerer’s Ball. This may conjure up images of eccentric scientists and inventors fiddling with creative new inventions, but that image isn’t far off the truth. There were lots of museum educators and scientists who were there to tinker with creative new ideas for museums and science centers. They just mixed in some hors d’oeuvres and dancing.

The ASTC Tinkerer's Ball Photo Booth: An empty gold frame waiting for attendees (like the Museum's Ted Myers) to create their own works of art. (Photo from The Tinkering Studio)

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