Guidelines and nomination forms for ASTC’s 2011 Leading Edge Awards competition are available online – application deadline is April 12, 2011.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Four ASTC (Association of Science-Technology Centers) -member organizations and one science center professional, all US-based, were honored with Roy L. Shafer Leading Edge Awards at the 2010 ASTC Annual Conference in Honolulu. The awards recognize both small and large ASTC member institutions and/or their employees for extraordinary accomplishments in Visitor Experience, Business Practice, and Leadership in the Field during the past three years. The awards, presented annually, honor the late Roy L. Shafer, a former science center director, ASTC president, and organizational coach. Winners receive an etched glass award and a paid registration to the following year’s ASTC Annual Conference (the 2011 conference will be hosted by the Maryland Science Center in Baltimore, October 15-18).
Leading Edge Awards
Business Practice: COSI, Columbus, Ohio for Partnering with Others @COSI: Creating a Center of Science in the Community. Tapping the extra space in its 300,000-square-foot facility, COSI shifted its business model from a stand-alone science center to a “Center of Science” rich in resident partners—such as Ohio State University, Battelle, and TechColumbus—whose work supports COSI’s mission. The Award jury was impressed by the science center’s willingness to share its new model with the field.
Visitor Experience (Small Institution): Omaha Children’s Museum, for Construction Zone. In response to economic conditions, the Museum decided to focus on its core audience and deliver outstanding experiences with fewer dollars. In an effort to create its own blockbuster exhibition to fill a 10,000-square-foot gallery, the museum partnered with community organizations—including nine labor unions—to create Construction Zone. Volunteers contributed 5,000 hours to build the exhibition using inexpensive materials, and the new approach is working: the museum has seen an increase in attendance and member retention rates since the exhibition opened in 2010.
Visitor Experience (Large Institution) – two awards:
Denver Museum of Nature & Science was recognized for Expedition Health, a 10,000-square-foot permanent health science exhibition that uses a hike up Colorado’s Mount Evans as its theme. Visitors engage in full-body, interactive exhibits, while a virtual learning companion delivers information about how the human body responds to elevation-related variables like wind chill, UV exposure, and exertion. More than 425,000 people experienced Expedition Health in its first year. ASTC member Jeff Kennedy Associates, Inc. helped create the exhibition.
Pacific Science Center, Seattle received its award for the Portal to the Public project, which provides tools to help museum staff and researchers create high-quality, face-to-face programs for visitors. The project’s guiding framework forms the basis for sustainable program models that bring local scientists onto the science center floor, communicating their research through conversations and specialized activities. Funded by the National Science Foundation, the project involved several ASTC-member collaborators, including Institute for Learning Innovation, Explora, and the North Museum of Natural History; the result is a framework that is scalable, flexible, and appropriate for many types of organizations to adopt.
Experienced Leadership in the Field: Ann Fumarolo, president and CEO of Sci-Port: Louisiana’s Science Center in Shreveport. Fumarolo was honored for her devotion to cultivating new leaders and aspiring professionals in the field. She demonstrated inspiring optimism and ambition for herself, her center, all of her staff, and the field of informal science education itself. The jury found her practice of actively seeking out and personally funding professional development opportunities for her staff especially notable.
Photo: Omaha Children’s Museum
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