Public engagement with science and technology

20/09/2007

We have analyzed the popularization activities undertaken by ten thousand CNRS researchers by means of their annual reports for the years 2004, 2005 and 2006. This is the first time that such an extensive statistical study on science popularization practices is carried out. Our main findings are : - the majority of researchers is not involved in popularization (51% has not done any popularization over the three-year period, two thirds have been involved in no more than one popularization action). - popularization practices are extremely diverse, both at the individual level (we have identified three subpopulations that feature distinctive attitudes towards popularization), and at the level of scientific disciplines (researchers in Humanities are twice as active as the average), as well as in laboratories or geographical regions. - the number of actions reported in 2005 greatly increased compared to 2004 (+ 26%), while they slightly diminished in 2006.

20/09/2007

This article introduces a study on the websites of several European public research institutions that aims at identifying the science communication model chosen and implemented online with the purpose of reaching different target publics. The analytical approach takes into account a number of indicators: from the institutional identity to the scientific features, from the interactive services to the internationalisation level, in order to evaluate whether the web provides an added value in the adopted communication model and in building a relation with the users. Lights and shades emerge from this study in which good practices side examples of a much weaker science communication approach, outlining a general context where a public research institution website has been still used as a presentation tool and its interactive opportunities have not been capitalised.

20/09/2007

Two concepts seemingly distant from each other, scientific education and European citizenship, have been the basis for "SEDEC - Science Education for the Development of European Citizenship", a European project funded by the European Commission in the framework of the Socrates/Comenius programme, aiming at producing training material addressed to European teachers. Started in autumn 2005, the project will end in 2008 with an in-service training course for European teachers and educators.

21/06/2007

This paper addresses the role of museums in education in science and technology through the discussion of a specific project entitled EST “Educate in Science and Technology”. The Project puts together methodologies and activities through which museums can be used as resources for long-term project work. In-service training for teachers, work in class with learning kits or with materials brought in by a Science Van, and visits to the museum are planned and developed jointly by museum experts and teachers. The Project proposes a teaching and learning model which sees the museum experience as central and integral part of a teaching and learning process with more effective outcomes. The analysis of the Project activities and methodologies is based on the work carried out at the National Museum of Science and Technology Leonardo da Vinci, which perceives the learner (the visitor) at the heart of its educational methodologies and provision.

21/06/2007

In a meta-analysis carried out in 2002, the two main associations of science centres and museums (ASTC, mainly US-centered, and ECSITE, mainly European) gathered all studies analysing the impact of science centres and museums on their local communities1. Four types of impact were identified: personal, social, political and economical. It was noticed that the vast majority of studies concentrated on the personal impact (that is, learning outcome, visitor satisfaction, etc.), while the latter three were largely neglected. The very fact of pointing this out, and many recent experiences - some of which are included in this commentary - show that there is now a shift of attention.

21/09/2006

The Royal Society published in late June a report entitled «Science Communication. Survey of factors affecting science communication by scientists and engineers». It is an in-depth survey on the communication addressed to non-specialist audiences that was carried out interviewing a wide and representative sample of UK scientists and engineers.

21/12/2005

From exhibitions to theatrical performances, from fireworks to video games, countless events and ventures have been held all over the world in 2005 to mark the occasion of the World Year of Physics (WYP2005). The year that is drawing to a close has brought physics out into the streets and University campuses, but in a few cases physics has even invaded theater stages and art museums, it has involved musicians and even architects. The worldwide objective was to highlight a science that has more and more need to communicate its close connections with society, its involvement in themes that are vital for the present day but above all for the future, like the frontiers of medicine, the reduction of global pollution and the search for new energy sources. This focus tries to discover, country by country, the events that have accompanied the World Year of Physics. But this will also be an attempt to reply to a question on the very nature of this type of event: “do we really need it”? Is a World Year of Physics really necessary and, above all, is it effective?

21/12/2005

A review of two books recently published by Vieira & Lent, by the Casa da Ciência (House of Science) and by the Oswaldo Cruz Museu da Vida (Life Museum, Cruz/Fiocruz), "O Pequeno Cientista Amador – a divulgação científica e o público infantil", and "Terra Incógnita – a interface entre ciência e público" ("The Young Amateur Scientist - scientific divulgation and the youthful public", and "Unknown Land – the interface between science and the public") is presented.

21/03/2005

Nowadays, India is experiencing a widespread diffusion of science communication activities. Public institutions, non-governmental organisations and a number of associations are busy spreading scientific knowledge not only via traditional media but also through specific forms of interaction with a varied public. This report aims to provide a historical overview of the diffusion of science communication in India, illustrating its current development and its future prospects.

21/12/2004

The scientific institution in Brazil is marching to a good rhythm. Despite problems in funding (and in the very irregular distribution of such funds), universities and private research centers changed and grew over the last few years. In 1999, Brazil (whose external debt is over 50% of GDP), invested 0.87% of GDP in Research & Development: a percentage comparable to that of several Mediterranean countries.

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