Public engagement with science and technology

20/06/2008

Basing mainly on author's direct involvement in some science communication efforts in India, and other reports, this contribution depicts and analyses the present science communication/ popularization scenario in India. It tries to dispel a myth that rural people don't require or don’t crave for S&T information. It discusses need for science and technology communication, sustaining curiosity and creating role models. Citing cases of some natural, 'unnatural' and organized events, it recounts how S&T popularization efforts have fared during the past decade and a half. It's made possible using print, AV and interactive media which, at times, require lot of financial inputs. However, this contribution shows that a number of natural and other phenomena can be used to convince people about power of S&T and in molding their attitude. The cases cited may be from India, but, with a little variation, are true for most of the developing and under- developed societies.

20/06/2008

This article presents an example of how a public science party was evaluated. The main goals of the science party, to increase the positive image of science and present an attractive science event, were evaluated in two ways. First, web surveys were used to determine the image of science before and after the event among paying visitors, invited guests, and a control group (N = 149). Second, during the event, visitors were interviewed about their experiences at the event (N = 124). The survey study showed that the image of science was very positive among all three groups of respondents. As no differences were found between pre- and post-tests, participation in the event did not lead to a more positive image of science. The results of the interviews suggested that visitors highly appreciated the event. In the Discussion, the evaluation study is analyzed and possibilities/limitations for future general use are discussed.

22/10/2007

After serving the community for seven years, the Science Museum of Castilla-La Mancha (MCCM) has decided to renew itself. In this context, a survey of the needs and expectations of the people to which the museum is dedicated plays a major role for the changes planned to prove successful. Teachers are among the main users of the museum, staying at the core of all teaching-learning processes, and play a role as mediators between science and students. This paper analyses the judgements made by teachers about various types of events and teaching resources which are normally provided by science museums and, more specifically, the Science Museum of Castilla-La Mancha. Against that backdrop, science (our content), education (our objective) and the democratic participation of teachers will show a clear route to follow if one wants to achieve quality for our institution and its future events.

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?

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