Informal learning

12/11/2018

We explored the potential of science to facilitate social inclusion with teenagers who had interrupted their studies before the terms set for compulsory education. The project was carried out from 2014 to 2018 within SISSA (International School for Advanced Studies), a scientific and higher education institution in physics, mathematics and neurosciences, and was focused on the production of video games using Scratch. The outcomes are encouraging: through active engagement, the participants have succeeded in completing complex projects, taking responsibilities and interacting with people outside their usual entourage, within a background in which they have been valued and respected.

08/10/2018

In November 2016, within an Environmental studies course at the University of Venice, students carried out an experiment aimed at collecting scenarios of the Venetian coast's future starting from lessons learnt during the episode of storm surge 50 years ago (Aqua Granda ‘flood’). The students built scenarios able to anticipate the effect of sea level rise on coastal areas in Venice, based not only on scientific input but also on a methodology called “Futurescape city Tours” (FCT) involving inhabitants of the barrier islands of Lido and Pellestrina. This paper will explore three main questions: (i) Can participatory and experiential methodologies, such as FCT help students behave in an anticipatory and inclusive way in their future professional activities? (ii) Can we talk about post-normal science teaching? — i.e. one that acknowledges and works with science and other knowledges to address societal issues? (iii) Can such an approach challenge students thinking in relation to knowledge hierarchies?

17/09/2018

This paper focusses on the sense making and use of science by environmental activists. It is based on the assumption that activists — without being scientists or professional science communicators — take up a central role in the environmental discourse concerning the translation of scientific findings and their public dissemination. It is thus asked how environmental activists evaluate the relevance of science for their work, which structures and processes they apply to make sense of science, and how they use science related information to make their voices heard. This paper presents data from a study on Canadian activists regarding their use of scientific information in the field of forest protection. The data, interpreted in the context of a situational analysis, helps to enhance understanding of environmental activists' information systems but also show the strategic use of scientific information by these alternative science communicators.

30/07/2018

The National Center for Science Education’s Science Booster Club
Program piloted a no-conflict approach to free, informal science activities
focused on climate change or evolution, holding 64 community events at
two sites over the course of 15 months, engaging with more than 70,000
participants. In the participating communities science literacy increased
over time as did community engagement as measured by local financial
support, requests for programming, and event attendance.

22/05/2018

The aim of this paper is to analyze the impact of Comics & Science workshops where forty-one teenagers (designated Trainee Science Comic Authors [TSCAs]) are asked to create a one-page comic strip based on a scientific presentation given by a PhD student. Instrumental genesis is chosen as the conceptual framework to characterize the interplay between the specific characteristics of a comic and the pieces of scientific knowledge to be translated. Six workshops were conducted and analyzed. The results show that the TSCAs followed the codes that are specific to the comic strip medium and took some distance with the science integrity. Nevertheless being involved in the creative process allowed them to understand the reasons for certain choices of science illustration or storytelling. This approach can foster the emergence of a critical mind with respect to reading science stories created in other contexts.

21/11/2017

This study explored how different presentations of an object in deep space affect understanding, engagement, and aesthetic appreciation. A total of n = 2,502 respondents to an online survey were randomly assigned to one of 11 versions of Cassiopeia A, comprising 6 images and 5 videos ranging from 3s to approximately 1min. Participants responded to intial items regarding what the image looked like, the aesthetic appeal of the image, perceptions of understanding, and how much the participant wanted to learn more. After the image was identified, participants indicated the extent to which the label increased understanding and how well the image represented the object. A final item asked for questions about the image for an atronomer. Results suggest that alternative types of images can and should be used, provided they are accompanied by explanations. Qualitative data indicated that explanations should include information about colors used, size, scale, and location of the object. The results are discussed in terms of science communication to the public in the face of increasing use of technology.

01/06/2017

Science in film is gaining attention from scientists and science communicators. Sixteen experts gathered at the 253rd Annual Meeting of the American Chemical Society to explore the role and relevance of science in film. An audience of researchers, academics and students enjoyed first-hand accounts from filmmakers, science consultants and experts in science communication, who all agreed on the important impact the way science is depicted in film has on education, outreach and the relationship between science and society.

23/01/2017

Science cafés offer a place for information and discussion for all who are interested in science and its broader implications for society. In this paper, science cafés are explored as a means of informal science dialogue in order to gain more understanding of the science-society relationship. Perspectives of visitors, organisers and moderators of science cafés were analysed. Findings show that science cafés stimulate discussion and engagement via informal learning processes. Visitors come to broaden their knowledge in an informal ambiance. Organisers and moderators hope to enhance understanding of science and confidence of people to participate in debates.

21/09/2016

This study applies social network analysis to explore the role that one science festival has played in building the state's STEM learning ecosystem. It examines the breadth and extent of collaboration among STEM educators and their partners, reviewing past and present partnerships across 449 events during the 2015 festival. Three case studies provide in-depth illustrations of partnerships. These findings represent an important step towards (a) mapping a STEM learning ecosystem, and (b) trying to understand how a festival affects the ecosystem itself. Together, study results demonstrate how the festival has served to stimulate and foster STEM partnerships.

10/05/2016

This study aims to investigate whether different types of museum visits have specific ways to influence the visitors' experience and learning. Three types of museum visits as offered by the Museo della Scienza e della Tecnologia "Leonardo da Vinci" in Milan, Italy were taken into consideration: free tour, guided tour, and lab. The study involved visitors over 25 years of age. The way visits took place, the visitors' learning and experiences were investigated based on evidence collected using methods such as Personal Meaning Mapping and observation. Our study has revealed that the outcomes of the visits vary in terms of visitor experience and depth of knowledge on the main subject. No significant differences were found as concerns the level of attention (visitors proved to be attentive while at the museum regardless of the type of visit).

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