ASC Honors-Lifetime Achievement in the Field of Arts, Science or History celebrates the lifetime achievements of a Charlotte-Mecklenburg resident in the visual, design or performing arts, history, literature or science. Thanks to the generosity of the Cato Corporation, ASC is also able to honor lifetime achievement in teaching art, science and history for Pre-K-12 teachers from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg region with the ASC Honors-Cato Lifetime Achievement in Teaching Awards.
By Bea Quirk
For his entire career, Dr. Robert Corbin has dedicated himself to “igniting wonder” about science in children of all ages.
He spent his first 18 years as a science teacher in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools at Myers Park, Garinger and Waddell high schools. In 2007, he joined the staff of Discovery Place as vice president of learning experiences.
There, he played an integral role in designing the museum’s 2010 expansion, which includes nine new exhibitions, a 3D digital theater and three new hands-on laboratories.
“I am responsible for the philosophical underpinnings for all our offerings, but I like to tell people my job is to orbit the big giant hairball,” Corbin says. “I vet exhibits and experiences, work on our after-school enrichment programs – always thinking up new ways that will be the most beneficial to the most people. My first goal is always to have visitors be awe-inspired. Americans feel like science is something someone else does – I am hell-bent on changing that.”
Corbin’s innovative leadership has been an important factor in making Discovery Place one of the country’s preeminent science education centers. In FY 2011, 688,265 children and their families visited the museum.
Corbin has an international reputation in the field of science education and is in high demand as a speaker and consultant. His methodologies and practices have made him a leader and trendsetter in the international science museum community. This past April, he participated in the White House Summit on Environmental Education.
But the peripatetic administrator and national board certified teacher remains an educator at heart and has been honored for his teaching innumerable times. He still teaches education classes at UNC Charlotte and Wingate University.
“I will never stop teaching – it’s what animates me,” he says. “We are never done learning – we always need to be endlessly seeking Utopia and to be open to new ideas.”
Corbin earned a B.A. in science education from Michigan State University, a masters in natural science teaching from the University of South Carolina and a Ph.D. in curriculum, instruction and urban education from UNC Charlotte.