Friday, October 19, 2007

ASTC Day 2

This is a continuation of my experiences at the ASTC 2007 annual meeting...

Saturday, October 13, 2007:

This morning I attended the annual ASTC "meet and greet" breakfast, where I got to meet some of my colleagues from NASA for the first time. The morning’s keynote speaker was Geoffrey Canada, CEO/President of the Harlem Children’s Zone. His main point was that educating youth and their parents is the key to reducing crime in America. He suggested that we focus on engaging young people in bettering their communities so that they feel they’re living in a worthwhile place and doing worthwhile things. The goal is not to just get people into college such that they never return to their hometowns - instead he would prefer to see them want to return so that they can continue to make their communities better. Other suggestions: Optimism is key and contagious – we should all try it! Think outside the box. Remember that we all live in a global village.

NASA exhibit booth:

Helping staff the NASA exhibit booth was a lot of fun because I got to meet fellow informal science educators from all over everywhere. The NASA booth was a big hit, due in part to all the cool freebies we had to give away (like posters about the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter mission, trading cards with photos of Saturn's moons taken by the Cassini mission, lenticulars from the STEREO mission, etc.) and because we had an actual Apollo lunar sample and a shuttle tire that people could touch!

The "NASA Update" session focused largely on the upcoming 50th Anniversary of NASA on October 1, 2008. NASA has already launched a
50th Anniversary website where you can find information pertaining to all of the agency's anniversary-related plans and initiatives, including NASA's participation in the 2008 Smithsonian Folklife Festival. The session leaders also mentioned the new Field Trip to the Moon DVD and educational program developed by the American Museum of Natural History in partnership with NASA. The DVD and educational materials are available to educators for FREE!

The "Museums 2.0" session was also fantastic. The writer of the Museum 2.0 blog was one of the session leaders. She gave an overview of what Web 2.0 means and gave a couple examples of websites I hadn't heard of before: and These sites let users choose if they want to interact socially with other users. Other session leaders included representatives from several museums and science centers with Museum 2.0-style exhibits (i.e. the exhibits encourage or offer opportunities for visitors to interact with each other, museum staff, and/or help create and shape the exhibit). The Ontario Science Centre, for example, has a sort of "scientific Times Square" in which visitors can view dynamic content and interact with each other and museum staff. The OSC also hosts an interesting website: The Science Museum of Minnesota hosts a website called Science Buzz that allows for interactive social blogging by visitors and museum staff.

On Saturday evening I saw a preview of the International Polar Year initiative called Polar-palooza. It was absolutely fantastic and sobering at the same time. The scientists involved did an excellent job of communicating recent observations that indicate our poles are rapidly changing. Polar-palooza can be tailored to fit any audience and age group from students to the general public. I greatly encourage you to visit your nearest Polar-palooza event for an eye- and mind-opening experience.

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