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.