Science centres and museums


The Polish science communication field has grown into a robust and diverse community. Centralised and governmentally funded initiatives are complemented by more bottom-up actions led by academia, researchers, journalists and educators. Still, the main goals of science communication in Poland seem to be a diffusion of scientific knowledge and building trust towards science and scientist. The concept of openness and reflexivity could help to include the needs and perspectives of non-scientific audiences into science communication practice in Poland.


Concepts underpinning participatory science communication have much to offer science communication training and capacity building. This paper investigates a capacity building program with 15 science communicators from nine African countries involved in a six-week program in Australia. Data was collected via surveys, observations, informal interactions and ongoing relationships tracking program outcomes. Key features with a participatory nature included: holistic programs giving participants diverse skills and entry points; ensuring participant's freedom, agency, autonomy and self-efficacy; real-world networking as a self-directed participatory process; participant-led design processes to build skills for creating programs; and, embedding training in real-world contexts with deliberately selected publics.


This essay approaches the question: ‘What does participatory science communication for transformation mean in Colombia?’ The answer comes from an examination of the public policy instruments that have promoted participatory scientific communication through the concept of social appropriation of science, technology, and innovation (STI). In the gaze of these public policy instruments, it is evident how the social appropriation of STI has been intended as a means of transformation.


The ‘Born or Built? — Our Robotic Future’ (‘BOB?’) exhibition examines relationships between humans, robots and artificial intelligence. It encourages visitors to explore ethical and social issues surrounding these new technologies and invites visitors to post their own questions. We examine visitor responses to the exhibit “A of the Day”, which encourages visitors to engage by writing down their own question prompted by their experience in ‘BOB?’. As responses were submitted, it became apparent that the questions posed by visitors were potentially a valuable contribution to future science communication policy about robotics, and to those designing and implementing these technologies. We performed a content analysis that distilled themes in visitors' open-ended questioning that conveyed visitor knowledge and insight into what science communication about robotic technologies needs to address. Taken this way, visitors' questions form a moment of dialogue between the public and science communicators, engineers and researchers in which visitors contribute their knowledge and ideas about robotics. Such moments of dialogue are potentially valuable if the public is to be included in the development of robotics technology to build trust in robotics technology.


This paper focuses on developing and assessing a non-obtrusive and transformative method, based on virtual reality, to evaluate science communication projects in science centres. The method was tested using deep-sea cutting-edge scientific content. We applied a mixed design, with 72 adult participants randomly assigned to experimental conditions (with/without exhibition exposure). Results showed that the exhibition promoted a better understanding of science. The non-obtrusive measures on awareness and engagement were positively related with questions posed via questionnaire and interview. The study adds theoretical and empirical support to the design and implementation of non-obtrusive and transformative evaluation experiences in science exhibitions in science centres and museums.


Genetics literacy is crucial for making informed decisions. However, perceived complexity, educational gaps, and misleading media narratives make reaching diverse populations difficult. Interventions to improve genetics literacy beyond K—12 classrooms should center on building science trust and self-efficacy. We used a mixed methods approach to survey 12 museums with genetics content and found 3 framing devices, “Genetics is Fun,” “Genetics is Relevant,” and “Genetics is Discovery.” While each framing strategy leads to high engagement with genetics topics, these approaches differed in ways that affect ability to learn and how genetics is perceived. Exhibit creators should consider design ramifications when creating a genetics exhibit that builds genetic literacy.


This paper studies how science centers and museums around the world have used mobile apps with museum guide characteristics and tries to identify the best interface design principles to improve their use as a tool for interaction with the public. For this purpose, we mapped mobile apps from science centers and museums and applied an evaluation tool for each one to identify good practices. This allowed us to produce guidelines for identifying good practices in the development of apps as a way of expanding visitors' experience in these institutions through these devices.


As several recent National Academies of Sciences reports have highlighted, greater science communication research is needed on 1) communicating chemistry, and 2) building research-practice partnerships to advance communication across science issues. Here we report our insights in both areas, gathered from a multi-year collaboration to advance our understanding of how to communicate about chemistry with the public. Researchers and practitioners from science museums across the U.S. partnered with academic social scientists in science communication to develop and conduct multi-strand data collections on chemistry communication and informal education. Our focus was on increasing interest in, the perceived relevance of, and self-efficacy concerning chemistry through hands-on activities and connecting chemistry to broader themes concerning everyday life and societal impacts. We outline challenges and benefits of the project that future collaborations can gain from and illustrate how our strands of work complemented each other to create a more complete picture of public perceptions of chemistry.


European science communication project QUEST surveyed and reviewed different aspects of European science communication, including science journalism, teaching and training in science communication, social media activity, and science in museums. This article draws together themes that collectively emerge from this research to present an overview of key issues in science communication across Europe. We discuss four central dynamics — fragmentation within research and practice; a landscape in transition; the importance of format and context; and the dominance of critical and dialogic approaches as best practice — and illustrate these with empirical material from across our datasets. In closing we reflect upon the implications of this summary of European science communication.


The promotion of quality is a critical aspect to consider in the re-examination of science communication. This problem is analysed in the research carried out by the QUEST project, as featured in this paper. Engaging key stakeholders in a codesign process — through interviews, focus groups, workshops and surveys — the research identified barriers to quality science communication and on the basis of these, proposes a series of tools and supporting material that can serve as incentives toward quality science communication for different stakeholders across the fields of journalism, social media, and museum communication. And it highlights in particular the significance of training in order to promote professionalism amongst communicators.


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