Science centres and museums

17/02/2020

Science communication is proliferating in the developing world, however, with respect to science centres, as a whole Africa is being left behind. Here 15 participants in a capacity building program are investigated using traditional needs-based and contemporary asset-based development conceptualisations. These development theories parallel deficit and participatory approaches, respectively, within science communication and demonstrate synergies between the fields. Data showed staffing, funding, governments, host institutions, and audiences are prominent needs and assets, networks are a major asset, and identified other influential factors. Analysis suggests a coordinated model involving individuals, host institutions and governments to facilitate growth of African science centres.

20/01/2020

What exactly is “scientific culture”? How does it relate to science communication, non-formal education or artistic interactions with the scientific world? That was the topic of the 14th International Summer School of Mind, Brain and Education (ISMBE), held 1–4 October 2019 at the Ettore Majorana Centre for Scientific Culture in Erice (Sicily), Italy. The ISMBE has a long history of bringing together researchers from diverse fields to catalyze research relating to cognitive science and neuroscience through to education, and the directors of the School, Drs. Kurt Fischer, Antonio Battro and Sebastián Lipina considered that the boundary between these fields and scientific culture was subtle enough to demand a conference on the subject and asked us to organize such a meeting.

08/04/2019

Science museums are missing an opportunity to promote informal education, scientific literacy, public engagement and public visibility of scientists outside of museum walls via Instagram. With an analysis of 1,073 Instagram posts, we show that museums are using Instagram as a promotional broadcasting tool, with a focus on end results of collections and curation work over communication of museum-led discovery and science as a process. We suggest that science museums create more Instagram posts that offer educational information and visibility of exhibit creation and museum researchers' work behind the scenes.

01/04/2019

The making and tinkering movement has become increasingly mainstream over the past decade, pioneered in part through the popularity of magazines like `Make', events such as Maker Faire and DIY websites including `Instructables'. Science centres and museums have been developing their own ideas, notably the Tinkering Studio at the Exploratorium. In this commentary piece, we reflect on why this movement has a strong appeal for the Life Science Centre in Newcastle upon Tyne and why we are in the process of developing a new making and tinkering space to help us enact our centre's vision to `Enrich lives through science'.

05/02/2019

Meaningful science engagement beyond one-way outreach is needed to encourage science-based decision making. This pilot study aimed to instigate dialogue and deliberation concerning climate change and public health. Feedback from science café participants was used to design a panel-based museum exhibit that asked visitors to make action plans concerning such issues. Using intercept interviews and visitor comment card data, we found that visitors developed general or highly individualistic action plans to address these issues. Results suggest that employing participatory design methods when developing controversial socio-scientific exhibits can aid engagement. We conclude by recommending participatory strategies for implementing two-way science communication.

14/12/2018

This paper presents the first study ever conducted on the profile of visitors to the Museum of Human Evolution of Burgos (Spain), which exhibits the finds of the Atapuerca archaeo-paleontological sites. The research was guided by the principles of public communication of science and the methodology of the studies on museum visitors. The analysis reveals a positive perception; the Museum is associated with the sites and they are valued as cultural heritage. Complaints are very limited but useful to produce a set of recommendations to further improve the exhibition. In addition, the findings are placed in the context of similar research carried out at other museums in Spain.

19/09/2018

We review how the Wellcome Collection exhibition ‘Teeth’ enacts meanings from an educational anthropology and Science and Technology Studies perspective. The exhibition tells the history of dental science. It starts with accounts of the painful procedures and social inequalities of early oral healthcare. As it moves towards the present day it shows improved scientific knowledge, tools and public health promotion, and closes with current sophisticated technologies and practices. However it underrepresents contemporary social inequalities. We conclude that science communication exhibition curators should strive to represent the problems of today as well as those of the past.

24/07/2018

World’s Fairs and scientific-technological theme parks have been
propitious places for the communication of science and technology through
modernity. This work addresses the issue of the construction of public
discourse about the future within these sites, as well as the changing role
attributed to science and technology as mediators in the relationships
between nature and society. In both fairs and parks, science and
technology play a leading role in the construction of the discourse about
the desirable and achievable future. The practices of science
communication and technology have specific forms, strategies and
objectives, depending on the purposes of the discourse enunciators at
different historical moments. This is exemplified through two cases: the
1939 New York World’s Fair and the EPCOT center in the U.S.

04/07/2018

Mediators engage in peer-to-peer conversations with young adults visiting the art and science exhibitions at Science Gallery Dublin. Previous evaluation and anecdotal reports show that the interdisciplinary nature of these conversations fosters self-confidence and interest in academic careers. We used the Most Significant Change methodology to evaluate if working as a Mediator has an impact beyond these domains. The results show that civic engagement, interest in social justice and emotional empathy are domains of significant personal change strongly associated with the development of self-confidence and interpersonal skills.

07/05/2018

This meta-article aims to explore the role of uncertainty in knowing in informal science learning contexts. Subjects (N=2591) were sixth-graders from four countries. In addition to the correct and incorrect questionnaire alternatives, there was a "don't know" option to choose if uncertain of the answer. The unique path-analysis finding showed that the role of motivation was uniformly positive on correct and negative on uncertainty of answers. In all contexts the number of correct answers increased, incorrect and uncertain answers decreased. Interestingly, although there was no more difference in knowledge pro boys after the intervention, the girls were still more uncertain.

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