We were very saddened to hear that Dr. Alan J. Friedman, former director of the New York Hall of Science (NYSCI) and great contributor to after school science and informal science education, passed away on Sunday May 4th, 2014. As a coalition we work through the activities of our members, to which Alan was an active contributor and supporter. In that spirit, below we’ve compiled some of the many remembrances, memorials, and tributes to Alan that have popped up across the country in the last days. The warmth, reverence, depth, and sincerity of these offerings emulate his infectious spirit and convey the incalculable influence he had on the field of informal science education.
Trained as a physicist, Alan served as the director of the NYSCI from 1984-2006, where he transformed the museum from “an empty shell, the old exhibits removed and an inch of water on the floor” to a dynamic institution full of exhibits that ranged from “microscopes to windmills to the ‘world’s first three-dimensional dynamic model of an atom,” according to his obituary in the New York Times and a recent NYSCI blog post on the subject.
Prior to his tenure at NYSCI, Alan worked for twelve years at the Lawrence Hall of Science. As recounted in the Hall’s touching tribute to Alan, he established their planetarium and its interactive format, which served as a model for science centers worldwide. The Hall honored him with an Excellence in Science Education award in 2008.
Alan also served on the board of trustees for the Noyce Foundation, and recently presented on an AAAS panel on science after school with Coalition leaders Carol Tang and Elizabeth Stage.
In honor of Alan’s legacy at NYSCI and in the larger field of informal science education, his NYSCI colleagues created a site, Thinking of Alan , which has served as a powerful sounding board for the many people whose lives Alan touched over the years. Many CSAS leaders, members, and contributors have added remembrances to this site, including Lucy Friedman of TASC, Dennis Bartels of the Exploratorium, Elizabeth Stage of the Lawrence Hall of Science, Anita Krishnamurthi of the Afterschool Alliance, Ron Ottinger of the Noyce Foundation, and Carol Tang, former CSAS director and now program officer at the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, among many others. These leaders’ reflections span Alan’s extraordinary work as an innovator in and champion of science education, and as a mentor to many.
As Dennis Bartels noted in his post on the NYSCI site, Alan was a giant in our field. He will be sorely missed, but his legacy continues to be advanced through the many people he inspired and the organizations he guided.
A memorial service for Alan will take place on Saturday, June 14th 2014 at 11:00 a.m. Please RSVP to Nancy Schenk, firstname.lastname@example.org.