Science centres and museums

22/09/2014

The urgent state of our global environment calls for collective action, which depends in large part on effective science communication for better understanding and awareness. Activities and institutions that provide opportunities to learn about nature all ultimately rely on scientific findings about nature. Although science produces the knowledge and information about nature, for the content to be accessible and meaningful to the general public, it needs to be processed by what I call science content design. This process is similar to the concepts of interpretation in tourism, or aesthetic understanding in alternative science education. This study is a theoretical exploration on the definition and nature of science content design, what constitutes its process, and how the content can be designed. Focusing on the fields of macro-biology, I also discuss the types of biological content generally used in nature-based experiences, and examine model cases of biological content design.

02/04/2014

In this theoretical paper we explore the use of narrative as a learning tool in informal science settings. Specifically, the purpose of this paper is to explore how narrative can be applied to exhibits in the context of science centers to scaffold visitors science learning. In exploring this idea, we analyze the theoretical, structural and epistemological properties of narrative. In the pages that follow, we first discuss the advantages and possibilities for learning that science centers offer alongside challenges and limitations. Next, we discuss the role of narrative in science, as a tool for supporting science learning. We then continue with an analysis of the structural and epistemological properties of narrative and discuss how those can serve to establish narrative as a learning tool.

13/03/2014

The great increase in visitor studies on science museums and centres (SMC) has been marked also by a shift in approach to these studies, paying more attention to the social context of the visits and the nature of the experience. Evaluations have influenced directly SMC exhibition practices but more attention needs to be paid in research about the personal experiences of visits, how these are interpreted and how they contribute to scientific literacy.

13/03/2014

As science museums and centres (SMC) broaden their practices to include the development of scientific citizenship, evaluation needs also to take account of this dimension of their practices. It requires complex methods to understand better the impacts of public participation in activities mediated by SMC, including their impacts on the governance of the SMC themselves.

17/05/2012

Should one aim at presenting a local or global science perspective in construing an effective museum narration for communicating scientific and technological issues in natural science? This article will attempt to respond to this question by presenting the data of an evaluation exercise undertaken by the Trento Natural History Museum (Museo Tridentino di Scienze Naturali – MTSN) from 2009 to 2011. The local dimension apparently lies at the heart of the museum’s appeal for its visitors: they associate their mountain surroundings with the symbol of the region’s identity, and appreciate in particular the efforts undertaken by the museum to communicate and conserve the mountain’s environment. Indeed, in their opinion, by protecting the mountains and disseminating knowledge about them, the museum indirectly acts as a custodian of the region’s own identity. However, interest in local issues far from rules out global scientific themes, whose presence is sought to complement and interact with the local discourse.

01/03/2012

This paper explores the idea of the post-museum as an immersive knowledge experience facilitating conceptual and strategic directions in public engagement with science and technology. It considers the extent to which the museum has evolved from repository of cultural artefacts to experience-based process of knowledge acquisition and production. The post-museum is invoked as a model of participatory pedagogy that moves beyond traditional forms of learning, knowledge acquisition and knowledge interface, and conceptualisations of the learner in science. It is presented as an educational and recreational experience, which locates and translates knowledge to the novice or non-traditional patron using rich social narratives that ground scientific expertise in the practice of everyday life. The experience of science is thus made familiar and relevant and concurrently regulated and owned by the visitor. The learner is consequently recast from passive recipient of information-bites to choreographer, translator and innovator within a scientific knowledge continuum.

13/05/2011

In colonial times in New Zealand the portrayal of science to the public had a sense of theatre, with nineteenth and early twentieth century grand exhibitions of a new nation’s resources and its technological achievements complemented by spectacular public lectures and demonstrations by visitors from overseas and scientific ‘showmen’. However, from 1926 to the mid-1990s there were few public displays of scientific research and its applications, corresponding to an inward-looking science regime presided over by the Government science agency, the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research. The subsequent development of science centres with their emphasis on visitor participation has led to an increase in the audience for science and a revival of theatricality in presentation of exhibitions, demonstration lectures, café scientifiques, and science-related activities.

18/05/2009

Effective training in key communications skills is critical for successful public engagement. However, what are the secrets to designing and delivering an effectual training course? This paper outlines key findings from a research study into communication training programmes for public engagement with STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). The research focused on training in direct communication methods, (as separate from media training) and encompassed both trainers and trainees, the latter group spanning across both scientists and explainers. The findings indicated that training courses are effective at increasing involvement in science communication events and trainees feel more confident and able to engage due to training. An interactive style was found to be a key element of training courses. Demonstrations of good practice followed by own performance with feedback were also important, preferably involving a ‘real’ audience. A list of guidelines on best practice has been developed which offers practical advice.

19/09/2008

Oficina Desafio, Challenge Workshop, is a project of UNICAMP Exploratory Science Museum – the Science Center of the State University of Campinas (Brazil). It is an outreach project, consisting of a fully - equipped mobile workshop constructed on a truck, which visits schools and gives the students open solution real problems challenging them to “design, construct and operate a device” capable of solving the challenge. Analysis of the evaluation forms answered by school students reveals that participants of the challenges perceive it as a “learning opportunity”, in the sense they identify school related capabilities as conditions that increase the chance of facing the challenges successfully.

19/09/2008

The educational function of science museums was born with the first naturalistic collections ever, flourished in 16th-century Italy. The pedagogic thought and the educational experimentations carried out in approximately five century of history have allowed the educational mission of museums to acquire many different facets, drawing a task having an increasingly higher and complex social value. Recent publications explore these new meanings of an old role.

Pages

Subscribe to Science centres and museums