ASTC 2021 Annual Conference

Frequently Asked Questions

ASTC Virtual 2021 Annual Conference
October 5–7, 2021

Last updated September 30, 2021

General Questions

Will the annual conference be in-person this year? Or where will the conference be located this year?
While we are expecting 2021 to be better year than 2020 as vaccines continue to be administered, we know that it will continue to be a challenging year for our community. Even as public health improves, the road to financial recovery will be a long one. As a result, ASTC has made the decision that this year’s Annual Conference will be fully virtual once again. The conference will take place Tuesday, October 5 – Thursday, October 7, 2021 with Preconference ASTC Intensives taking place Tuesday, September 28 – Friday, October 1, 2021.

Is this a sign that the in-person conference will not be coming back?
No, ASTC is committed to resuming in-person conferences when public health and financial considerations allow. In particular, please mark your calendars for ASTC 2022 (September 12–14) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

I’m not usually able to attend the ASTC Annual Conference in person and appreciated the ability to participate remotely. Will that be an option for the future?
Even once in-person conferences can resume in 2022, we expect to incorporate the ability to participate virtually. Stay tuned for additional information.

If the conference will be virtual, what online platform will be used?
We will be using Swapcard again for ASTC 2021, the same platform we used last year. Although Swapcard has made a number of updates and enhancements from last year, it still offers easy navigation, networking and connection at its core, and the ability to join via computer and mobile device.

What will I need to access the conference?
You can access the conference platform via a web browser or the Swapcard mobile app. To ensure the most seamless experience, we recommend that you use the current version of the Chrome browser and to access without be logged in through a Virtual Private Network (VPN). You may need to refresh if a live session is not playing.

What time zone will the conference be in?
By default, the Swapcard platform will show session and event times in your local time zone (according to your device). You can also select to have all times show in Eastern Time.

Call for Proposals

When will the Call for Proposals be open for submission?
The Call for Proposals opened on May 7 and closed on June 21, 2021. ASTC’s Conference Program Planning Committee is currently reviewing proposals and will be in touch with those submitting proposals by August 12, 2021.

What is the theme for 2021?
The conference theme is Reflection, Recognition, and Renewal. A full description of the conference theme is included in the Call for Proposals. Submissions may address any topic relevant to science and technology centers and museums and the broader fields of informal science learning and public engagement with science. We especially encourage you to think about current circumstances, capabilities, and priorities in the field, including consideration of one or more of the following topics:

  • Addressing Inequities in Society, including those related to race, gender, disability, or wealth.
  • Confronting the Climate Crisis, including the opportunities for and responsibilities of science centers.
  • Creating a Better Future for our institutions and fulfilling our missions with the communities we are meant to serve.
  • Rebuilding and Reimagining our Businesses after many months of greatly reduced income, smaller staffs, and closing our physical doors to the community.

How can I find others who might be interested in submitting a session proposal together?
We encourage you to use the ASTC General Forum and Communities of Practice to post about your session ideas and encourage those interested to contact you.

What’s new for 2021?
Watch the May 19 webinar with members of ASTC’s Conference Program Planning Committee for an overview of some of what will be new for ASTC 2021.

Which resources are available to help in developing my session proposal?
ASTC and the Conference Program Planning Committee have developed several resources, including a webinar recording on changes for 2021 and suggestions on how to submit a strong proposal, a step-by-step guide to submitting, and sample submissions for each of the session types that allow you to preview the questions.

How long are the sessions this year?
Concurrent Sessions will be 45 minutes in length, with the opportunity to request an additional 20 minutes for discussion (limited number). Lightning Talks will be 10 minutes each and combined into Lightning Sessions.

Do I have to be a member of ASTC to submit a session proposal?
No! Affiliation with an ASTC-member organization is not required to submit a session proposal nor to be a presenter. In fact, we encourage you to consider presenters from outside the science center field who can speak to highly relevant topics.

What is the agenda for the conference?
ASTCs Conference Program Planning Committee has reviewed more than 200 session ideas submitted in response to the Call for Proposals. A list of accepted conference sessions is available, and the specific schedule will be published soon.


When will registration open for the conference?
Registration opened in June 2021, beginning with the opportunity for chief executives of ASTC-member organizations to purchase member bundles.

When will registration end?
Registration will remain open for the duration of ASTC 2021, but attendees are strongly encouraged to register by October 3 in order to take full advantage of the conference.

What are the registration fees?
ASTC remains committed to making the conference accessible to the community, including those who may be out of work. See the Registration Information for complete information about registration fees and the opportunity to apply for a scholarship.

Will bundles be offered for ASTC members again?
Yes, we are offering ASTC Member Bundles again this year, which provide a set of registrations at a deeply discounted rate. See the Member Bundles page for additional details.

Will I be able to register more than one person at a time?
Yes, group registration is available. Please note that you do not have to purchase a bundle in order to take advantage of group registration.

What is included in my virtual registration fee?
Access to live plenary, concurrent sessions, exhibitors, and networking events as well as on-demand recordings.

Does ASTC offer any scholarships/assistance for conference?
Yes! New this year, ASTC will be offering a limited number of scholarships to partially or completely defray the registration fees for those who would be unable to participate in conference otherwise. This includes—but is not limited to—students and those who have been furloughed or had their positions eliminated. The application window has now closed.


How will ASTC 2021 be accessible?
Consistent with ASTC’s Commitment to Diversity, Accessibility, Inclusion, and Equity, we are committed to making the virtual conference as accessible as possible. This includes—but is not limited to—our intention to incorporate each of the following elements.

  • Plenary and Concurrent Sessions will be made available to those registered for the conference to view on demand as soon as possible after the session and will continue to be available for at least several months.
  • Plenary and Concurrent Sessions will have live captioning available.
  • On-demand recordings will have captioning available.

Please contact us at to request or suggest additional steps ASTC can take to ensure that the conference is accessible.

Exhibitor/Sponsor Questions

I am interested in sponsorship opportunities for ASTC 2021.  Whom should I contact?
The ASTC 20201 marketing prospectus has full details about sponsorship opportunities, including new à la carte and year-round options. Please email for more information about how to sign up.

I am interested in exhibiting at ASTC 2021.  Whom should I contact?
The ASTC 20201 marketing prospectus has full details about exhibiting in the Virtual Exhibitor Showcase. We are developing the full exhibitor prospectus. Please email for more information about how to sign up.

I currently have a booth/deposit carried over from 2019 and/or 2020. Can I cancel and get a refund?
Please email for more information.

Other questions?
Please email us at

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