Case Studies: ASTC (Association of Science-Technology Centers)


The Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) is an organization of science centers and museums dedicated to furthering the public understanding of science among diverse audiences. ASTC encourages excellence and innovation in informal science learning by serving and linking members worldwide and advancing their common goals. Through a variety of programs and services, ASTC provides professional development for the science center field, promotes best practices, supports effective communication, strengthens the position of science centers within the community at large, and fosters the creation of successful partnerships and collaborations.

"The list has become an indispensable tool for the science center network, and ASTC is very grateful to L-Soft for helping us get started and keeping us going."

Founded in 1973, ASTC has grown to have more than 530 members in 39 countries. Members include science-technology centers and science museums, nature centers, aquariums, planetariums, zoos, botanical gardens, space theaters as well as natural history and children's museums. The Informal Science Education Network email list (ISEN-ASTC-L) grew out of an early effort to connect educators in science centers and museums. Today, the list has grown to include more than 1000 subscribers in 30 countries.

"Three ASTC staff members together manage the list, one on the more policy/content end, and the others more on the technical end," said Wendy Pollock, Director of Research, Publications, and Exhibitions. "We have found that maintenance of the list is very easy. We have had few problems that have not been solvable using the list management Web interface. We have complete control over the list archives stored on L-Soft's servers. No spam has ever gotten through to the list."

The mission of the email list is posted on ASTC's Web site with instructions on how to subscribe:

ISEN-ASTC-L is a list that links informal science professionals from around the world, many of whom work in ASTC-member institutions as educators, exhibit developers, evaluators, and in the area of visitor services. We welcome notices of events and opportunities of interest to the science center community; marketing of products and services is not allowed.

The Informal Science Education Network (ISEN) is a list that offers an environment for the exchange of ideas and knowledge regarding informal science education. Teachers, museum staff, college professors, and other interested parties are encouraged to participate.

Subscribers exchange advice and information on a wide range of subjects, from the practical (how do you deal with lost children in your museum?) to the more philosophical (what is the best piece of popular science writing you've read lately?). People now regularly use the list as a tool for enlisting help with planning conference sessions and letting others know about professional development opportunities. There have even been requests from international travelers for advice about where to visit – and help from the country to which they are traveling.

"The list has become an indispensable tool for the science center network, and ASTC is very grateful to L-Soft for helping us get started and keeping us going," Pollock said.

Case study written in March 2004, with the help of Wendy Pollock, Director of Research, Publications, and Exhibitions at ASTC.

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