Here's some of the awesome things I learned while I was at ASTC 2013, the annual gathering of the Association for Science and Technology Centers, held this year in lovely Albuquerque, New Mexico.
1. Neil Degrasse Tyson is TALL
Apparently this cardboard cutout is life sized.
2. Ocular Rift is AMAZING
Okay, I get it. This device could change everything about gaming and simulated experiences.
Once I put one on, I literally left the building.
3. The Bodelin Proscope digital microscope is a sweet science ed tool
I want one for our education department.
4. This kid from the Boston Museum of Science is ridiculous
He said he had injured his ankle, or he would have b-boyed for us. So this was his backup dance style.
5. Sopaipillas are delicious Latin donuts
6. Tablets can be as effective as carts and specimens for engaging museum visitors
See 21-tech.org for awesome ideas for how to use tablets on the museum floor.
7. Singaporean kids make awesome animated films in 48 hours
Many more here. Part of the annual "Scinemation" animated film competition sponsored by the Science Center of Singapore.
8. This Museum Exists: "Truassic Park" the Creationist Dinosaur Park
And it's in Southern California.
9. Nobody Walks in Albuquerque
Whenever a group of us would walk from downtown to Old Town, cars would slow down and honk, and people would yell out odd things.
10. My Museum Kicks Butt
Because I work here, I don't often think that what we are doing is all that special. It really is. From exhibits to our planetarium to our public programs, education, citizen science, research, and more, the California Academy of Sciences is a really fantastic place. There are lots of other amazing natural history museums and science centers around the country who I met this weekend. But it is always good to get affirmation that what you are doing is valued and considered interesting to your peers.
A short anecdote: On the plane ride back from ASTC, I sat with the head of a science museum in the Midwest and talked about what we do. When she found out where I was and what I do, she pumped me for information about how we use technology, what our youth do in our museum, how we engage our visitors with digital tools, and what more. By the end of the short plane ride, she said our chat was more valuable than entire panel sessions that she sat through at ASTC.
Not just to toot my own horn, I do think we are doing awesome work at the Academy. It's good to get to tell that story more widely , and get inspired by others, at events like ASTC.