Science centers and museums celebrate ISCSMD 2019

From original videos to free admission days to special family activities, museums marked International Science Center and Science Museum Day in a wide variety of ways:

Domus, Museos Científicos Coruñeses in A Coruña, Spain, opened a new exhibit, Bocados, with several activities on water, equality, and health: preparing meals, an interactive screen display, and origami.

People exploring a museum exhibit on nutrition.


Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum in Poughkeepsie, New York, marked the day with special activities to promote awareness around global sustainability and climate resilience.


Pavilhão do Conhecimento in Lisbon, Portugal, created a science café and invited young visitors to participate in a game to learn about nutrition.

Children learn about health and nutrition while making a snack.


Planetário – Casa da Ciência in Braga, Portugal, held educational planetarium and laboratory activities exploring quality education, life below water, and life on land.

A tadpole that has begun to turn into a frog.


Science Centre Singapore celebrated with a fun game: visitors collected stamps at selected exhibitions, shows, and activities to redeem for a themed gift.

Visitors review how to sort recyclable materials.


Science North in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada, welcomed visitors with free admission to the center’s special interactive workshops, Planetarium, and giant screen cinema.


On November 10, science centers in Mexico, Portugal, Belgium, and Egypt joined ASTC for a webcast to discuss their collaborations with local schools. Each center engaged local students to address sustainability challenges relevant to the region. Through the Eco Hero challenge, the students produced inspiring videos about their experience, including strategies to share with the world.




Join the International Science Center and Science Museum Day webcast

On Sunday, November 10, 2019, the Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC) held a webcast to celebrate International Science Center and Science Museum Day (ISCSMD). Featuring speakers from Mexico, Portugal, Belgium, and Egypt, the event explored how science centers are engaging their communities on local and global sustainability topics.

Watch the archived webcast now.

This year, students partnered with their local science centers to participate in the Eco Hero Lab. Inspired by the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals, the Eco Hero Lab encourages students to take five steps—meatless meals, reducing waste, exploring nature, reducing energy consumption, and enhancing well-being—to gain the title of Eco Hero.

Each presentation includes an expert discussion on one environmental challenge facing their region and videos students created about their experience and the topics they learned about with their science centers.

  • Universum, Museo de las Ciencias de la UNAM in Mexico City, Mexico, will address air quality.
  • Centro Ciência Viva da Floresta in Proença-a-Nova, Portugal, will address deforestation and forest degradation.
  • Hidrodoe in Herentals, Belgium, will address water quality.
  • Planetarium Science Center in Alexandria, Egypt, will address soil health.

Young researchers from the UN Major Group for Children and Youth discussed their choice to pursue scientific careers and the importance of science engagement to tackle global challenges.

The free 90-minute webcast was held on Sunday, November 10, 2019, at 9:00 a.m. EST.

ISCSMD is an annual, global event illustrating the impact and reach of all the world’s science centers and science museums. It demonstrates the role these institutions play with their millions of visitors in raising awareness of—and engagement in—sustainable development and the solutions to global challenges. Science centers and science museums worldwide take the opportunity of this day to celebrate and promote their missions through widely diverse informal science education and engagement activities addressing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The day is a reminder to all about the universality of science and its capacity to build bridges across geographical, cultural, and religious boundaries while addressing common concerns.

ISCSMD at The Franklin Institute

By Rachel Valletta, Ph.D., Environmental Scientist, The Franklin Institute, and Larry Dubinski, President and CEO, The Franklin Institute, Board Chair, Association of Science and Technology Centers

This year for International Science Center and Science Museum Day (ISCSMD), The Franklin Institute is crafting our celebration around sustainability and environmental sciences. It’s an ideal opportunity to kick off some new and exciting efforts as we gear up for the 50th anniversary of Earth Day in 2020.

People visiting a museum exhibit showing a large map of Earth.

Visitors at the Changing Earth exhibit at The Franklin Institute.

On November 10 we will unveil hands-on activities related to food systems, a crucial aspect of sustainable cities and communities. These activities are made possible by a new partnership with FMC Corporation, a Philadelphia-based global agricultural sciences company. Through collaboration between our educators and FMC scientists, we can expand our reach to inspire public audiences in the museum, at our annual Philadelphia Science Festival, and around the community to think critically about and take action towards a more sustainable future.

Public outreach enabled through this new partnership will employ best practices of community engagement and empowerment learned through our Climate and Urban Systems Partnership (CUSP) project. In conjunction with the ISCSMD celebration, the Institute will host an educational workshop on plastic pollution that engages CUSP network partners and other community stakeholders to envision a future built on more responsible consumption and production.

Children watching a science demonstration.

Participants at a Climate and Urban Systems Partnership (CUSP) project event.

As we look beyond ISCSMD, the Franklin Institute’s commitment to sustainability and environmental concerns extends outside the walls of the museum. We have leveraged CUSP collaborations to create an annual professional development program in climate change and sustainability science that unites formal and informal educators around the Philadelphia region. This month, we became a signatory to the Climate Collaborative of Greater Philadelphia, a first-of-its-kind working group of large Philadelphia institutions dedicated to climate action planning. With this working group, the Institute has committed to create a public-facing climate action goal, connecting our focus on sustainability education to long-term institutional practice.

Fun Activities that Promote Sustainability and Equity

On November 10, science and technology centers and museums around the world will be celebrating International Science Center and Science Museum Day (ISCSMD). This celebration encourages museums to highlight their efforts to partner with their communities to address local and global challenges, especially those that advance the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). As community hubs, science centers and museums work to connect science and society, engage diverse members of their communities, and partner to tackle challenges.

Take a look at what a few science centers and museums around the world are doing in their communities to recognize ISCSMD and advance science engagement:

Planetário – Casa da Ciência in Braga, Portugal has announced an ISCSMD celebration with planetarium and laboratory activities focused on education (SDG #4), conservation and sustainable use of marine resources (SDG #14), and sustainable use of land resources (SDG #15). Read more about the center’s ISCSMD activities here.


Domus, Museos Científicos Coruñeses in A Coruña, Spain opened a new exhibition on nutrition (SDG #2) and its connection to multiple SDGs. The Bocados exhibit explores several issues, including access to water (SDG #6), gender equality (#5), and health (SDG #3), and features activities like a module on preparing meals, an interactive screen display, and origami. Read more about Bocados here.


Hidrodoe, a water-themed science center in Herentals, Belgium, on organizing several SDGs-based activities focused on fun, interactive experiences. Earlier this year, the center offered an obstacle course to find clean water (SDGs #5 and #6) and a workshop for participants to build a solar bottle bulb (SDG #7). Last month, Hidrodoe held a nature walk through forests around the center (SDG #15). Read the full list of activities here.

As part of the center’s ISCSMD celebrations, students at local schools were invited to participate in a competition where they complete five sustainability challenges—like reducing waste and energy consumption—to gain the title of Eco Hero.

International Science Center and Science Museum Day is just two weeks away. Please send us news about the work your institution is doing right now or planning for the future so that we can celebrate you!

How will you celebrate International Science Center and Science Museum Day?

Each year on November 10, International Science Center and Science Museum Day (ISCSMD) celebrates the idea that engaging all people in science and technology encourages action towards sustainability rooted in diversity, equity, and inclusion. Toward this end, ISCSMD promotes the awareness and advancement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

ISDSMD highlights the work science and technology centers and museums do to spark action toward advancing these global goals. In 2015, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, an ambitious blueprint for pursuing shared global prosperity through a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs represent a vision for tackling global challenges like poverty, inequality, and climate change to build more resilient communities while leaving no one behind.

Science centers and museums are in a unique position to engage all members of their communities in learning about—and engaging with—the SDGs, seeking collaborative solutions to local and global sustainability challenges through science, technology, and innovation.

So, what will you do this year to celebrate at YOUR science and technology center or museum?

Getting started is easy: think about how your institution’s existing programs and activities relate to one or more of the SDGs. Some museums develop special activities, programs, or partnerships as part of their celebration of ISCSMD. Many institutions choose to highlight on ISCSMD work they are already doing that is connected to one of the 17 SDGs.
Read about the 17 SDGs and think about how to best highlight and advance the efforts your institution is already making toward implementing the goals:

1. No poverty

2. Zero hunger

3. Good health and well-being

4. Quality education

5. Gender equality

6. Clean water and sanitation

7. Affordable and clean energy

8. Decent work and economic growth

9. Industry, innovation, and infrastructure

10. Reduced inequalities

11. Sustainable cities and communities

12. Responsible consumption and production

13. Climate action

14. Life below water

15. Life on land

16. Peace, justice, and strong institutions

17. Partnerships for the goals

After identifying how you are already achieving or advancing the SDGs in your exhibits, programs, or activities, let your visitors, partners, and communities know about these efforts and how they can learn more. You can also create or expand local partnerships to boost your institution’s impact.

Finally, inspire others by sharing your stories on social media using the hashtags #ISCSMD2019 and #ScienceDay.

Here are a few ways ASTC members around the world are marking ISCSMD this year:

  • Hidrodoe, a water-themed science center in Herentals, Belgium, has organized several SDGs-themed activities like an obstacle course to find clean water (SDG #5 and #6) and a walk through forests around the center (SDG #15).
  • Universum, Museo de las Ciencias, UNAM in Mexico City has exhibitions on life below water (SDG #14) and life on land (SDG #15).
  • The Planetarium Science Center in Alexandria, Egypt is hosting an all-day festival on November 10.
  • Centro Ciência Viva da Floresta in Proença-a-Nova, Portugal is developing education around forests (SDG #15).
  • Domus, Museos Científicos Coruñeses in A Coruña, Spain created Bocados, an exhibition on nutrition and the SDGs that covers a range of issues including access to water and gender equality (SDG #2, #3, #5, #6).

Ready to learn more?

Read what ASTC’s president and chief executive officer, Cristin Dorgelo, has to say about the sustainable development goals.

In case you missed it, take a look at the July–August 2018 issue of Dimensions magazine focused on the SDGs. This article by Maarten Okkerson describes The Hague’s Museon’s One Planet, a solutions-based exhibition on achieving the 17 SDGs.

Reaching the Public, Together

By Walter Staveloz, Director, International Relations, Association of Science-Technology Centers


Science Centers and Scientists Working Together to Share with the Public Their Right to Science


Click here to view or download this multi-institution, multi-country discussion.



On Saturday, November 10—as part of UNESCO’s World Science Day for Peace and Development and the International Science Center and Science Museum Day—the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) presented a global, online discussion exploring issues related to the 2018 theme: “Science, a Human Right.”

This rich, in-depth program can be part of your upcoming public programs, the basis for staff and board discussions, background for strategic planning, and more.

A panel of experts will gathered in in Washington, D.C., at the AAAS headquarters and in four science centers and other locations around the world

During the program, Jessica Wyndham, Director of the AAAS Science and Human Right Coalition, explored the connections between science and human rights in a discussion with with experts and scientists (see below) who have been studying several aspects of the relationship between science and human rights, from the right to do research to the free circulation of information, as well as questions related to the ethics of science in various fields such as health and biotechnology.

Then, experts (see below) and audiences in the science centers commented and asked questions in a round moderated by Cristin Dorgelo, ASTC President and CEO. This portion of the program examined how we communicate science to large audiences, particularly through science centers, and explored new ways that academics, international organizations, and our institutions can work together in this area.


Part 1—
How do science and human rights relate and what are the parts of it?


In Washington, D.C.:

Jessica Wyndham, Director, AAAS Scientific Responsibility, Human Rights, and Law Program, and Coordinator, AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition
For the past 11 years, Wyndham has led the efforts of AAAS and the AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition in bringing the voices of scientists, engineers, and health professionals to a United Nations process of defining the right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications. Together Margaret Weigers Vitullo, she has conducted research on the meaning of the right from the perspectives of scientists, engineers, and health professionals. She has analyzed the reports of governments to the UN about their efforts to implement the right, and she has developed case studies suggesting how the right may be applied in practice.

Margaret Weigers Vitullo, Deputy Director, American Sociological Association
Vitullo has worked with departments and faculty across the United States to advance sociologists in their professions and improve department management and leadership, curriculum, teaching, and assessment of learning outcomes. Prior to the ASA, she was a faculty member and Chair of the Sociology Department at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., and worked as a research scientist at the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research. She has also served as a consultant to the AAAS Science and Human Rights Program in Haiti, Guatemala, and South Africa. Her current areas of scholarship include sociology and human rights, and teaching and learning in higher education. Vitullo has been a lead researcher in the work of the AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition to define the right to science, with contributions including the conceptualization of a “continuum of access” as a framework for addressing access in the context of the right to science.

Shirley Malcom, Head of AAAS Education and Human Resources Programs
Malcom’s expertise is in the areas of education, diversity, and inclusion in science—particularly among underrepresented groups—and public understanding of science and technology. She was head of the AAAS Office of Opportunities in Science from 1979 to 1989. Between 1977 and 1979, she served as program officer in the Science Education Directorate of the U.S. National Science Foundation. Prior to this, she held the rank of Assistant Professor of Biology, at the University of North Carolina in Wilmington and for two years was a high-school science teacher. She chaired the U.S. National Academy of Sciences Committee on Barriers and Opportunities to Two-Year and Four-Year STEM Degree Completion. She serves on the boards of the Heinz Endowments, Public Agenda, the National Math-Science Initiative, and Digital Promise. In 2003, she received the Public Welfare Medal of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the highest award given by the Academy.

In Medellin, Colombia, at Parque Explora:

Brigitte Luis Guillermo Baptiste is the director of the Research Institute of Biological Resources Alexander von Humboldt, a nonprofit civil corporation linked to the Ministry of Environment, which protects biodiversity in Colombia. She is a biologist by profession and holds a master’s degree in tropical conservation and development from the International University of Florida, thanks to a Fulbright Commission scholarship. Baptiste is one of the greatest experts in environmental issues and biodiversity in her country. She is also a member of the Multidisciplinary Panel of Experts of the Intergovernmental Scientific-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (MEP / IPBES), representing Latin America.


Part 2—
How to communicate “Science, a Human Right” to the general public and what could be the role of science centers?

In Medellin, Colombia, at Parque Explora:

Andrés Roldán is Executive Director of Parque Explora—one of the largest and most visited science, aquarium, and planetarium museums in Colombia. He guides his team in the creation of interactive and innovative learning environments that contribute to the public understanding of science and technology. He also leads projects that dilute the walls of the museum and take it to different territories through projects, workshops, community processes, and itinerant experiences. The experiences developed by Parque Explora include interactive science centers, planetariums, aquariums, temporary exhibitions, libraries, learning centers, and interpretation centers—connecting people and their territories with new narratives that bring healthy conditions for a social transformation. As a participant in the transformation of Medellin, Roldán works from the paradigm of the civic commitment of museums, in which the equal access of opportunities between people and communities is prioritized. For Roldán, the union of education, culture, urban planning, collaborative economies, and architecture is vital in sustainable community development. The management of the Explora Park is a paradigm of work integrating the private sector and the development of public policies that provide equity with access to culture and knowledge for vulnerable communities.

In Kerkrade, Netherlands, at Cube Design Museum:

Cristin Dorgelo is President and CEO of the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC). ASTC is an international organization of science centers, museums, and related institutions dedicated to furthering public engagement with science among increasingly diverse audiences. ASTC encourages excellence and innovation in informal science learning for children, youth, and adults. Founded in 1973, ASTC has nearly 700 members in 50 countries, including science centers and museums, and also nature centers, aquariums, planetariums, zoos, botanical gardens, space theatres, and natural history and children’s museums. Cristin previously served as Chief of Staff and the Assistant Director for Grand Challenges at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, facilitating policy development and implementation across a broad spectrum of science and technology issues, with a particular focus on open-innovation approaches and cross-sector collaboration to address grand challenges. From 2006 to 2012, Cristin was Vice President of Prize Operations for the XPRIZE Foundation, a nonprofit prize institute in Culver City, California. She helped launch several startup companies at the Pasadena, California, incubator Idealab from 2000 to 2006 and was part of the founding team of X1 Technologies. Cristin started her career at the Los Angeles Times and holds a BA in history with a minor in anthropology from UCLA.

Gène Bertrand is Head of Programs and Development for the three institutions at Museumplein Limburg: Columbus Earth Center, Cube Design Museum, and Continium Discovery Center. With a background in culture, media and education, he has worked for more than 40 years in science communication/education at industrial museums, science museums, and science centers. Bertrand was member of the development team for Industrion, which opened in 1998 as a museum exploring industry and society, and won the 2000 European Michelleti Award for most innovative technology museum. In 2002, he became its Head of Public Affairs and was responsible for education, press, media, public relations, marketing, and visitor services. From 2005 onward he has worked on a further development of Industrion, resulting in its evolution into Continium Discovery Center in 2009, as well as the development of the two new venues, Cube Design Museum and the Columbus Earth Center. Most recently, he has led the development of the museum’s living labs, and the methodologies used in them, in a combination of design, technology and science.

In Barcelona, Spain, at CosmoCaixa:

Jordi Pascual is the Founder and Coordinator of the Culture Committee of United Cities and Local Governments, whose objective is the progress of Agenda 21 for culture. He is an Associate Professor at the Open University of Catalonia, where he teaches cultural policies in the masters “Cultural Management” and “Right to the City.” He is one of the leaders of the worldwide campaign for the inclusion of culture in the Sustainable Development Goals and the New Urban Agenda. He has been a member of the jury of the European Capital of Culture. He has written on cultural rights, governance of culture, international cultural relations, and the role of culture in sustainability, which have been translated into more than 20 languages.

In Cape Town, South Africa:

Professor Mike Bruton was born and educated in South Africa, where he obtained his Ph.D. degree from Rhodes University. He initially followed a career in marine biology, but, over the past two decades, has focused on science center and museum design and development, the psychology of learning, and the history of Islamic science. He has received many international awards and honors, including the Fellowship of the Royal Society of South Africa (1984), Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Académique from France (2001), Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Science and Technology Forum, South Africa (2001), and an Emeritus Professorship from the University of Cape Town (2004).

In Milan, Italy, at Museum of Science and Technology Leonardo da Vinci:

Camilla Rossi-Linnemann is in charge of international relations at the museum. She holds a master’s degree in museum studies and has a background in physics and art History. Twelve years ago she joined the museum’s education department, working on different EU-funded projects focused on teacher-training programs, research on family dynamics in multiage learning paths, digital resources for education, and other themes connected to informal education settings. During the past four years she has worked with the museum’s director to develop networks that connect research centers, academia, policy makers, companies, and other museums in the attempt to investigate and reinforce the role of museums in and for society.

Inclusive Gardening

By Alessandra Arcella, Explora, the Children’s Museum of Rome


GARDENStoGROW Urban Horticulture for Innovative and Inclusive Early Childhood Education


Explora, the Children’s Museum of Rome (il Museo dei bambini di Roma), is a nonprofit museum entirely conceived for children, schools, and families located in Rome, Italy. It was established with a mission to encourage and help every child’s natural desire to learn, through stimulating, entertaining programs for children of all ages. Additionally, our educational purpose is enhanced by workshops and classes for a large number of school teachers each year.

RomeC_300Over the years our museum, an institution accredited for training by Italy’s Ministry of Education (prot.n°1.153 del 28/7/2006 D.M. n° 90/2003), has adopted an important role in the childhood educational and cultural overview. Visits by families and schools to our exhibits are enriched by thematic labs offering the possibility to learn science, technology, and art as a result of a rich schedule of changing programs.

Explora is leader of GARDENStoGROW Urban Horticulture for Innovative and Inclusive Early Childhood Education, a project co-funded by the European Union’s Erasmus+ program. GARDENStoGROW aims to create educational gardens and training courses for early childhood teachers and school managers to develop basic, civic, and transversal skills for the 3–6 age group. The project has been created because the improvement of education in the earliest stages of development can reduce disparities and inequalities at their roots, with a considerable socio-economic return in later years.

RomeB_300School gardens are spreading all over Europe, as natural places where children can

  • have real contact with nature
  • discover the origin of their food
  • observe flowers and vegetables growing
  • experiment with natural growth
  • learn life skills such as responsibility, cooperation, and self-confidence through achieving.

However, the permanent exploration of school gardens is often difficult to achieve due to several factors, including: unsuitable school location (land availability or contamination), difficulty accessing water, lack of funds, access and maintenance limitation during school holidays, and lack of specialized teachers or personnel for permanent and expert garden care besides pedagogical activities.

RomeA_300The project encourages the adoption of innovative and inclusive pedagogical practices at the preschool level, based on urban and social horticulture, through a series of outputs and a flexible and open training program, so that early childhood education and care teachers can transform gardening into inclusive and effective educational activities for the development and acquisition of transversal, social, civic and intercultural competences.

Gardens created within the GARDENStoGROW project will allow children from different backgrounds to participate in an inclusive learning environment, with no kind of discrimination, enhancing the access, participation, and learning performance of disadvantaged learners.

RomeD_300GARDENStoGROW also aims to strengthen the teaching profession, by making the careers of teachers and school leaders more attractive through a European opportunity; supporting teachers in dealing with diversity in the classroom (including pupils with a migrant background), through hands-on and informal activities based on horticulture; supporting educators in adopting collaborative and innovative practices; and strengthening leadership in education, through an active involvement from the school leaders.

More information:



JASMA activities for contributing to SDGs

By Yuta Tanimura, Secretary General, Japan Science Museum Association


Discovering the All the Sustainable Development Goals with the Japan Science Museum Association


JASMALogoThe Japan Science Museum Association (JASMA) is one of the biggest networks of science centers and museums in Japan, with about 190 members nationwide. The objective of the association is to promote science communication activities and STEAM through regional science centers’ traveling exhibitions, workshops, training program, and more.

For 2018, JASMA initiated many activities to promote the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) during its annual meeting in June 2018. Our target was not only Goal 4 (Quality Education), but we also addressed Goals 1, 3, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, and 17.

The first step was to promote awareness of SDGs for museum members and how they need to consider the link between local science museum activities and the SDGs’ 17 objectives. JASMA provided opportunities for presentations on the SDGs and to create plans with members in 2018.

JASMAWebsiteAs a second step, JASMA offers a good-practices platform. JASMA has created a special website for SDGs that is available for all members to share ideas with colleagues. Our activities involve JASMA members from Hokkaido to Kyushu, and after few months, many good practices were posted on the website. We’ve showcased local efforts in helping to share knowhow and links with SDGs that leads to further promotion and progress for all.

Continuing such activities contributes to the Tokyo Protocol that proposes roles of science centers and science museums worldwide. Since concluding the Tokyo Protocol, JASMA is supporting the awareness and contribution for SDGs to strengthen public engagement in global sustainability through the collaboration with JASMA’s nationwide network. We need more collaborative initiatives with more stakeholders to accelerate SDG-related activities at each science center/museum, and thus further advance the Tokyo Protocol and the International Science Centre & Science Museum Day.



Tokyo Protocol

Japan SDGs Action Platform



ASPAC Plans for ISCSMD 2018

By Maria Isabel Garcia, The Mind Museum, Bonifacio Global City, Philippines


ASPAC Plans for ISCSMD 2018

To celebrate the International Science Center and Science Museum Day (ISCSMD) on November 10, the Asia Pacific Network of Science & Technology Centres (ASPAC) will design a theme that is linked to the Tokyo Protocol from the Science Centre World Summit 2017. This will be top of the agenda of the CEO Forum at the ASPAC2018 conference in Taiwan this September.

We will share and promote throughout our network of science centers and science museums in the Asia Pacific region, so that the ASPAC theme can be advanced in the way each member sees fit, and we will also suggest our members participate in ISCSMD in the following ways

  • Science Center Alumni Days
  • sharing the stories of your Sustainable Development Goal in action
  • organizing an event with community partners

Those who are able can also do a live Facebook event of their ISCSMD celebration that can be linked to the ASPAC Facebook page.

Any output (videos, articles, etc.) that will come out of your November 10 ISCSMD activities can be placed in our ASPAC website and linked to ISCSMD website using the tools from the ISCSMD toolkit where appropriate.




Photos: ASPAC members

Science as a Human Right—ISCSMD 2018

By Lesley Lewis, former CEO of the Ontario Science Centre in Toronto, former Chair of the ASTC Board of Directors, and ASTC Fellow, and Maurice Bitran, Ph.D., CEO and Chief Science Officer, Ontario Science Centre


International Science Center and Science Museum Day (ISCSMD) is an annual global event demonstrating the impact and reach of the world’s science centers and science museums happening in 2018 on Saturday, November 10.

Started in 2016, ISCSMD takes place each year on UNESCO’s annual World Science Day for Peace and Development, an internationally celebrated day to highlight the importance of science in and for society and that science, peace, and development are interlinked.

It is a collaboration among the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and science centers and museums that belong to these global and regional networks of science-engagement organizations: Asia Pacific Network of Science & Technology Centres (ASPAC), Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC), European network of science centres and museums (Ecsite), North Africa and Middle East Science centers network (NAMES), National Council of Science Museums, Government of India (NCSM), Red de popularización de la Ciencia y la Tecnología en América Latina y el Caribe (RedPOP), and Southern African Association of Science & Technology Centres (SAASTEC).


Joining Together

Science centers and science museums welcome more than 300 million visitors each year. ISCSMD is a reminder of the universality of science and its capacity to build bridges across geographical, cultural, and religious boundaries while addressing common concerns. On ISCSMD, science centers and museums celebrate and promote their missions together through widely diverse science engagement activities focused on the critical topics articulated in the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the world’s nations in late 2015. ISCSMD activities show that science and technology have a larger impact beyond economic growth and serve the greater good, for the planet and its people.

This year, in celebration of the 70th anniversary of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, UNESCO has selected “Science as a Human Right” as the theme for the annual World Science Day for Peace and Development on November 10. The theme is directly aligned with the focus of the 17 SDGs.

You are invited to take part and highlight how “Science as a Human Right” is a part of your work in your communities.

The goal is to amass an inventory of ideas and actions that illustrate how science centers and science museums “operate across geographical, economic, political, religious, and cultural barriers.”1 We hope that this inventory will inspire dialogue and further action.


Stand up for Diversity and Inclusion

Does your institution strive to be a beacon for diversity and inclusiveness in your community? Could a successful initiative from another science center, which brings together children from different cultural and economic backgrounds for robotic programming, help to heal divisions in your community? Might learning that a very small science center is doing programs for inmates in a local jail lead you to consider undertaking a similar action? Would seeing what others did in 2018 to celebrate the first international LGBTSTEM Day inspire you to participate next year, creating new connections? Might reading about how a science center engaged immigrant or refugee families stimulate you to do something to welcome newcomers and help them to become part of your local community?

In addition to contributing to the inventory, you are invited to accentuate your programs and initiatives linked to diversity and inclusiveness on November 10 in your plans for ISCSMD.

We can all learn from such sharing of experiences. To get the ball rolling, we are sharing some of the related initiatives the Ontario Science Centre has put in place over the years. Located in Toronto, Canada, which is often named the most multicultural city in the world, the institution welcomes almost 1 million visitors annually from many different backgrounds. While this is a reflection of Toronto’s cosmopolitan makeup, it is also influenced by Ontario Science Centre’s commitment to inclusion and diversity and a core belief that science is for everyone. We have chosen three examples – local, national, and international – to illustrate our approach.


ISCSBD-2018_Blog-OSC-Women1Local Program: Spotlight on Women in STEM

Our Spotlight on Science program first focused on women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) during UNESCO’s International Day of Women and Girls in Science, and Spotlight on Women in STEM is now offered throughout the year. This program features local speakers of different ages and backgrounds sharing their personal stories. Presenters have included a citizen scientist in the third grade; a teenage co-founder of STEM Kids Rock; a science and technology writer from Canadian public radio; and the Dean of Science at Ryerson University, an international advocate for equity, diversity, and inclusion in science. The event is moderated by an Ontario Science Centre teacher who is also the founder of STEMneutral, an educational program designed for teachers and students that addresses the implicit biases that both women and men have that can create barriers for women and minorities in STEM.


National Program: Cultural Access Pass

ISCSBD-2018_Blog-OSC-CanadaPassA program supporting the notion that science is for everyone is one the Ontario Science Centre offers in partnership with the Institute of Canadian Citizenship. Since 2011, this Cultural Access Pass program provides all new Canadians and their families with the opportunity to visit participating cultural attractions for free during the first year after they are sworn in as citizens. This program reinforces the position that science is part of the culture of Canada and is a right that should be available to everyone. In addition to providing these passes, every year the Ontario Science Centre hosts an official Citizenship Ceremony in which scores of new immigrants become Canadian citizens. For many of them it adds a special meaning that the place where they officially became a Canadian is a science center. And for us it is an honor to play this role.



International Program: LGBTSTEM Day

During the inaugural LGBTSTEM Day on July 5, 2018, the Ontario Science Centre held a public event featuring a Science Slam with several speakers, moderated by a Toronto engineer (and graduate of the Ontario Science Centre Science School) in his drag persona, Conchita. The speakers addressed the question, “Is it important to have out and proud people in STEM?” from their own personal experiences. Visitors were invited to show their support via the onsite photo booth and to share their images on social media. The ‘500 Queer Scientists’ photo display encouraged people to think about who is a “scientist” and who looks like a “scientist” in their mind, part of a visibility campaign for LGBTQ+ people and their allies working in STEM.


Let Your Light Shine

What can others learn from your own work in welcoming all and providing science learning experiences to the people in your communities, regardless of their age, educational attainment, ethnic background, financial resources, gender, sexual orientation, or other dimensions of diversity?

The programs and initiatives you are already pursuing—and the stories behind how you have started them, what you are learning, and where you are heading—are of great interest to your colleagues in other organizations around the world.

Taking part in ISCSMD this year is one way to highlight the impact you have in your location and your place in the global movement of “science for everyone!”

Click here to discover how you and your organization can join in ISCSMD.



1Excerpt from The Toronto Declaration 2008




Photos: Ontario Science Centre