How have you been touched by your Science Centre? Has your experience with your Science Museum changed the way you think, helped you in your career, taught you something about the world around you or inspired you to go on some quest elsewhere? You may be a visitor, participant, volunteer or staff member, so the answers to these questions will vary greatly, but anyone exposed to a Science Centre or Museum is likely to be affected somehow.
UNESCO, ICOM and the Science Centre networks have declared 10 November the International Science Centre & Science Museum Day (ISCSMD). On that day, science centres and science museums are encouraged to organise activities based on one or more of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) declared by the United Nations (UN).
One of the aims of ISCSMD is to demonstrate the impact science centres and museums have in engaging people with the science and technology related issues that affect them individually, their society and the wider world. Probably the best way to demonstrate that impact is to feature those very people and invite them to share their stories.
ASPAC is therefore encouraging its members to mark ISCSMD with an Alumni Day, organising events for their alumni and collecting their stories in the process. These "alumni" may be former staff – our institutions' greatest impact is probably on our own people – or volunteer guides, co-organisers of events and programmes, members, event participants or visitors… anyone the centre/museum touched and left an impression with.
Following the ISCSMD's theme, the Alumni Day events can be related to one or more of the UN's SDGs. Demonstrating impact specifically in those areas will be ideal, but even if that is not made explicit, many testimonials we will collect from our alumni are likely to be linked to some of these broad goals somehow.
Science Centres are generally expected to offer some contributions to Quality Education, Innovation and Infrastructure, Good Health, Good Jobs and Economic Growth, Responsible Consumption, Climate Action and more. We may assume that we do have some impact in those areas, but backing that up with real, personal accounts by people telling their own stories will be very useful to convince any doubters out there.
The Alumni Day should not only be about collecting evidence of our Science Centres' impact, though. It should also be about appreciating the alumni's contributions to our institutions, their impact on us. Let the Science Centre/Museum Alumni Day be a celebration of Science Centres and Museums, the people in and around them, and the multitude of ways in which they connect.