Posted by: COSI | October 17, 2008

ASTC Bound!

I’m hammering this blog out as I’m heading to the door to go to our annual conference for the international science center field. The organizing body, Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC), has been doing this for years. My first conference was in Seattle in 1987 less than two months into my switch from teaching over to the science center field. I was wowed—not only with the setting in Seattle, but with the incredible mutual care and enthusiasm exhibited by all the science center professionals there. (The time was tempered, ironically with the huge 1987 stock market crash that is being referenced frequently during these tumultuous economic times—I still visualize all the office lights on downtown late into the night at all the financial institutions bordering our hotel).

That conference had about 400 people and ASTC was happy it had grown to that size. 20+ years later, the conference has grown to 1500-2000 on an annual basis and truly reflects the international flavor of the 40+ countries that are represented from around the world. (And they’ll be represented here in October 2012 when COSI plays host to the conference as we helped secure the selection of Columbus!)

At the first conference I was a neophyte manager sucking it all in, anxious to go to every session and talk to anyone who would help me understand how learning is approached in science centers versus the classroom that I’d left after 15 years of teaching.

Now I’m on the ASTC board representing one of the top science centers in the field as CEO and actively engaged in thinking not just about how COSI can continue to evolve in meeting changing and urgent community needs, but also assisting in thinking about the power of the entire science center field worldwide and how we collectively can make a difference. (The ASTC members reporting attendance had a worldwide impact of almost 55 million guests—35 million in the US alone on an annual basis!)

So I’m tossing all my notes into the binder our senior assistant, Kimberly, put together for me(backed up on zip drive); I’m reviewing the workshop outline for the latest New Models installment I’ve been asked six times now to conduct (a new discussion each time as the field has moved in new directions); making sure my Palm has all the board sessions, conference workshops, and personal and public meetings I have that will translate into regular 14 hour daily stretches over the next 5 days (no time off for weekend-I’ve even got a 7:30 am breakfast meeting on Sunday); and trying to make sure all urgent items are off my computer (like this blog!) and off my desk.

So if you are interested in what ASTC is about, pull up their website. I’m taking the computer and my FLIP video, so we’ll see if I’m able to get off a blog or two while I’m at the conference. And then maybe not – but I’ll have tried 😉


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