Handbook for Small Science Centers

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There has been, and continues to be, an explosion of interest in developing new small science centers that is changing the world of museums. This handbook is designed to be a one-stop source for future and current centers, and anyone interested in the important roles these institutions play in their communities. With articles—all written by leaders in field—covering everything from administration, staffing, finance, marketing, exhibit design, and beyond, this comprehensive resource will be essential reading for institutions that are operating successfully, struggling to survive, and those planning major expansions.

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Editorial Reviews

Elaine Heumann Gurian
Imagine sitting in a comfortable setting with fifty-five kind, experienced, generous, and almost parental nurturers who reveal all their museum secrets to you so that your personal dream of creating a small science or children's museum can be realized. Consider this book the equivalent of conversations with knowledgeable elders who tell stories containing all the juicy expertise you need, available just when you need it. Keep it by your bedside but keep a pen and paper handy.
Sally Duensing
Rather than offering a one-size-fits-all model, the strength and potential impact of this book are in the breadth of different stories of starting and developing informal science centers and children's museums as well as the wealth of advice from leaders in the science center field. It is noteworthy that all of the accounts stated the importance of understanding and connecting with the local communities—not only as visitors, but also as co-developers in the creation of dynamic, responsive, informal learning institutions. A big thanks to Cynthia Yao for having the tenacity to start a vital museum and then to create this book of many voices and tales—a book that hopefully encourages readers to consider the potential impact and future directions of these remarkable environments.
Alan J. Friedman
Cynthia Yao's Handbook for Small Science Centers is a splendid manual for developing a science center of any size or content. The contributors not only tell their success stories, but what went wrong, why, and how they fixed it. No two sets of goals, challenges, opportunities, and solutions are alike, which is why the fifty concise stories in this book are invaluable. By mixing and matching the experiences chronicled here, anyone involved in creating a new institution will find just the advice, warnings, and inspirations they need for their unique situation.
Michael Spock
This wonderful book, mirroring the spirit of the emerging science center movement itself, is chock full of interesting things to learn: modest, practical, accessible, and so much in the real world. In the hands of the visionary with a gleam in her eye on the way to creating a new community-based science program or the seasoned museum worker struggling with today’s operating problem, Handbook for Small Science Centers should become a well-thumbed landmark on all managers’ desks and a must for every board member’s reading list.
Muse - May/June 2008
The Handbook for Small Science Centers has become sort of a bible to me; as various challenges and issues present themselves, I find myself flipping through the pages, finding relelvant articles and soaking in the experience and wisdom of colleagues who have done this before. No matter what form of involvement you may have with a science center there's something in this book for everyone.
Bonnie Pitman
The Handbook for Small Science Canters is a thoughtfully written and extremely helpful new resource for the field that can benefit science centers, children’s museums, and other institutions. The well-organized and excellently written essays cover a wide range of issues that can emerge in organizing and managing a science center.
Phelan R. Fretz
The 12 sections cover nearly all aspects of starting and running a center, not only practical aspects such as governance, audience, exhibits, and so on, but also reflective aspects, such as a history of science centers and speculations on their future....a tremendous resource.
The Handbook for Small Science Centers has become sort of a bible to me; as various challenges and issues present themselves, I find myself flipping through the pages, finding relelvant articles and soaking in the experience and wisdom of colleagues who have done this before. No matter what form of involvement you may have with a science center there's something in this book for everyone.
— May/June 2008
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780759106536
  • Publisher: AltaMira Press
  • Publication date: 6/28/2006
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 328
  • Product dimensions: 8.56 (w) x 10.94 (h) x 0.82 (d)

Meet the Author

Cynthia C. Yao is the founder of the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum and was responsible for its establishment, vision, leadership, management and success as Executive Director from August 1978 to April 2000. She has a graduate degree in Museum Practice (MMP) from the University of Michigan. In October 2005, Cynthia was inducted in the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame and received the life achievement award of the Michigan Women’s Studies Association for the founding and success of the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Foreword Chapter 2 Preface and Acknowledgments Part 3 I. Central Case Study Chapter 4 1. The Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum: From Dream to Reality Part 5 II. Case Studies of Other Small Science Centers and Start-Ups Chapter 6 2. Developing in Phases:A Case History Chapter 7 3. Hockey, Nickel Mines, and the Pursuit of a Vision: Getting it Done at Science North Chapter 8 4. Once Small Center's Story: Grass Roots Thrive on Flexibility Chapter 9 5. Focus and Balance for the Small Museum Chapter 10 6. Discovery Center Start-Up: Launch Pad in a Mall Chapter 11 7. Curious Kids' Museum Chapter 12 8. Science Spectrum: A Science Center for the South Plains of Texas Chapter 13 9. Science Center in a College: An Unabashadly Autobiographical Account Chapter 14 10. Science Projects: The Observatory Science Centre, Herstmonceux and Inspire Discovery Centre, Norwich Chapter 15 11. Experimentarium: A Fairy Tale from Hans Christian Andersen's Denmark Part 16 III. Getting Started and Running a Science Center Chapter 17 12. Planning the Building Chapter 18 13. Sci-Port Discovery Center: How We Operate and Position Our Science Center for Ongoing Success Chapter 19 14. Over the Top: Building Resources to Open and Grow Chapter 20 15. Marketing Basics: Applications for Small Science Centers Chapter 21 16. The Science Shop at Science Spectrum Part 22 IV. Exhibits Chapter 23 17. Decision Making on Purpose: Translating Organizational Identity into Effective Experiences Chapter 24 18. Making Effective Exhibits for Rewarding Visitor Experiences Chapter 25 19. Learning from My Mistakes Chapter 26 20. The Use of Objects in a Small Science Center Part 27 V. Creating Special Exhibits Spaces Chapter 28 21. Discovery Spaces: Small Museums within a Large Museum Chapter 29 22. Creating Developmentally Appropriate Early Childhood Spaces in Science Centers Chapter 30 23. Outdoor Science Parks: Going Beyond the Walls Chapter 31 24. Traveling Exhibitions: Rationales and Strategies for the Small Museums Part 32 VI. Education Programs Chapter 33 25. Developing an Educational Plan Chapter 34 26. Building Capacity to Work with Schools Chapter 35 27. The Why and How of Doing Outreach Programming: Fulfilling My Fantasy Chapter 36 28. Fifty Years of Museum School Chapter 37 29. Promoting Public Understanding of Research through Family Science Programs at MIT Part 38 VII. Working in a Science Center Chapter 39 30. Leading and Implementing Innovation in Your Science Museum Chapter 40 31. Hiring, Supporting, and Developing Museum Educators for Your Science Center Chapter 41 32. Explainers: Youth Development at the Exploratorium Part 42 VIII. Audience Chapter 43 33. Understanding Your Audience Chapter 44 34. Girls, Boys, Moms, and Dads: Learning about Their Different Needs in Science Museums Chapter 45 35. Evaluation 101 Part 46 IX. Governance Chapter 47 36. Working Model: A Mechanism for the Effective Board Chapter 48 37. Code of Ethics for Museums Part 49 X. Transitions Chapter 50 38. Building a Sustainable Future Chapter 51 39. Renovation as Innovation: SciWorks, the Science Center and Environmental Park of Forsyth County Chapter 52 40. Collaborations: From Sharing a Museum Site to Winning NSF Grants Chapter 53 41. Exploration Place: Science Center and Children's Museum Combined Chapter 54 42. From Little Acorns Chapter 55 43. The Tech: The Challenges of Growing from Small to Large Chapter 56 44. How to Foster Innovation within Your Science-Technology Center: Observations from Under the Seat Cushion Part 57 XI. Overview of Science Centers Chapter 58 45. Science Center History Chapter 59 46. Fanning the Flames: The Exploratorium at the Birth of the Science Center Movement Chapter 60 47. SESAME Program: The Impact of a PhD Program on Science Museums Chapter 61 48. Science and Discovery Centers: The European Perspective Part 62 XII. Science Centers and the Future Chapter 63 49. Developing a New Business Model for Science Centers Chapter 64 50. Reality, Variety, and Ingenuity: Futures for Science Centers Part 65 XIII. Resources Chapter 66 Appendix A. Resources for Exhibit Fabrication Chapter 67 Appendix B. ASTC and Related Organizations Chapter 68 Appendix C. Directory of Science Centers, Institutions, and Individuals Represented Chapter 69 Index Chapter 70 About the Authors

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