I'm in Washington, DC now. I'm in town for the AAAS (Science Magazine) conference. I love science conferences and I love this gathering in particular. It's the world's largest science conference and an inter-disciplinary mix of scientists, social scientists, engineers, educators and science-tech policy makers . The energy is amazing. Nerd heaven, I say. Nerd heaven, indeed.
And on February 16 and 17, 2011, I attended the first ever International Public Science Events Conference, a pre-conference gathering of outreach scientists, science educators (formal & informal) and related institutions. We shared ideas, successes, and challenges to promoting science and engineering to the general public - you - via small and large events and celebrations. I co-moderated a workshop on Broadening Participation with the incomparable and kindred Madhu Katti of Reconciliation Ecology.
|Me with Madhu Katti|
All the conference participants shared ways to make our science meet-ups,science cafes, science cabarets, and science events more accessible and engaging. That was the objective of the entire pre-conference. Then as I listening to Dr. Dennis Wint, President and CEO of The Franklin Institute, Philadelphia, PA, discuss how and why science centers/museums matter in public engagement, I began to wonder...How important is science and math education to people who aren't in the business of science or math education. I mean, yeah, I know you think it's important, but how would you articulate that to another parent or community member?
|Me with Dr. Wint of the Franklin Institute|
Then Dr. Wint touched on how science centers/museums are a great science educational resource, sometimes the best thing going if your school system is slashing and burning education in science, math, and arts - like many are. I agree, and I wondered how many people are taking advantage of these continuing education centers?
So I did my own social media poll. When's the last time you, your friends/family visited a science center or museum? Which one? What city? Folk responded on twitter using the hashtag #scicenter.
I got about 20 responses. Most people attended fairly recently (within the last few months, I assume spending family time over the holiday). Here's a summary of responses.
- MIT Museum for opening of MIT150 exhibit
- Ontario Science Center in Toronto
- Franklin Institute in Philadelphia!
- American Museum of Natural History in NYC x2
- Science Centers of San Jose, Philadelphia and Cleveland
- Science Museum & Childrens Museum of Atlanta
- Hong Kong Science Museum for the exhibition "Marvelous Inventions of Leonardo da Vinci"
- Liberty Science Center Jersey City, NJ
- Discovery Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia
- National Space Center Leics, UK.
- Science Museum, London x2
- Natural History Museum, London x2
- North Carolin Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh-Durham
- Museum of Life + Science in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina
- Fels Planetarium (Part of the Franklin Institute, so it gets another tally)
- St. Louis Science Center x4 (my backyard)
- McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center Concord NH
- Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in DC
- The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago
- Cape Fear Museum in Wilmington, NC (they have a giant ground sloth skeleton)
- Taupo Vocano Centre in New Zealand
- Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago
also got some Zoo/Aquarium/Botanical Garden responses, too
- North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores
- St. Louis Zoo
- Missouri Botanical Garden