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Meghan Schiedel, Curriculum Developer at the Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum (The Discovery), was recently named a Fellow of the Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC). This honor was based on her work on inclusion at The Discovery and her goals of becoming a resource for cultural competency. She wants to grow as an innovative leader within the museum profession.
In addition to leading the Field Trip Program and writing curriculum for Camp Discovery and floor programming, Meghan has been developing several broader objectives for the museum. Her vision for equity and diversity within The Discovery includes making all the individuals in our community feel like the museum is a place for them. Her work with underrepresented audiences, creation of outstanding curriculum, and her long-term career goal of having an impact in her community led ASTC to honor her.
As one of sixteen ASTC Fellows, Meghan attended the organization’s annual conference, hosted by the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, California from October 21-24, 2017. The Fellows met two days before the conference began to discuss leadership development, and equity and access within the museum field. The Fellows also met several times over the course of the conference to share their experiences and talk about new ideas.
One of the primary objectives of the ASTC conference, especially for the Fellows, is to meet museum professionals from across the country. Meghan had the opportunity to network with other people in the field and share ideas and strategies for addressing issues concerning leadership in museums, diversity, and reinventing the way we educate our visitors. The ASTC conference offered Meghan the chance to cultivate new mentors from other museums, and to discover where her talent and vision will be most effective at The Discovery as her career develops.
Attending the ASTC conference ensured that the work Meghan is doing at The Discovery is cutting edge and is in line with industry standards. Speakers came from science centers and museums across the US. Conference highlights included sessions on making math meaningful for young children, designing museum experiences for linguistically diverse communities, and how to organize a science festival. She also learned some strategies for her most immediate goals of expanding The Discovery’s Field Trip Program, developing Family Science Nights at The Discovery and improving the educational impact of our traveling exhibitions.
Because Meghan is legally blind, much of the museum world is inaccessible to her. This experience has made her a passionate advocate for examining practices that might limit access to the work we do at The Discovery. She frequently questions: “Who can enjoy this program/exhibit?” and “How can we modify it so that more individuals can take part?” For example, Meghan spearheaded the Discover Your Way Program beginning in 2013, which provides exclusive museum hours to serve members of our community who are on the Autism and Sensory and Perception Disorders spectrum. She leads the Cultural Competency Committee at The Discovery and is a voice for underrepresented audiences.
Meghan found the ASTC Conference session “Finding Math in Making” particularly inspiring. The session speakers distributed a curriculum that outlines how to train facilitators (such as the Gallery Educators at The Discovery) to engage visitors in math-focused exhibits. Written by the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, Megan found this curriculum exciting because it helps facilitators find math in unexpected places in museum exhibits.
ASTC is the professional organization for science museums and centers, and the museum professionals who work at those institutions. It represents over 600 member organizations in 50 countries. In additional to its annual conference, ASTC sponsors dialogue, learning opportunities and information exchange, tracks and analyzes data in the science center field, and represents science museum interests before the United States Congress and federal agencies.
Check out the next Camp Discovery themes we will be offering to get a taste of the exciting hands-on learning Meghan develops at The Discovery!