Science is not for me. Visitors’ attitudes to learning in an Italian science centre

Following the example of the Exploratorium in San Francisco, interactive science museums are meant to be informal and enjoyable places where visitors, regardless of their age and background, are stimulated to practice their abilities to explore the world from a scientific point of view or to reacquire it in the case of adults who are far from science for professional reasons. Our study, which belongs to a relatively recent, but increasingly richer and complex tradition of researches on this topic, aims at contributing to answering the question whether, within the context of hands-on museums, this desired reacquisition of scientific exploration actually occurs for all visitors; more precisely, it aims at contributing to the discussion resulting from this question with reference to both possible answers and methods to find them. The study described below was carried out for a Science Communication Master thesis in Trieste (student: Monia Cardella, supervisor: Paola Rodari) and, therefore, it is inevitably limited: in fact, in order to deal with such a complex issue and to perform more detailed investigations on the field longer time and more resources would have been necessary. However, both methods used and results obtained from it, although provisional, are significant enough to deserve our attention.