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Prototyping an RRI exhibit at a science museum

12/09/2017

Can a playful exhibit at a science museum facilitate reflection and opinion forming over future applications of emerging and controversial research and innovation? According to Marjoleine G. van der Meij, Jacqueline E. W. Broerse and Frank Kupper (Science Communication department of the Athena Institute for Innovation and Communication in the Health and Life Sciences of VU University Amsterdam), not only it is possible, but it should be encouraged.  

In their paper “RRI & science museums; prototyping an exhibit for reflection on emerging and potentially controversial research and innovation”, just published in JCOM, they present the outcomes of a study conducted at the NEMO Science Centre in Amsterdam, where a playful exhibit prototype, called Opinion Lab (OL), has been tested. According to the authors, “The OL made children and parents reflect on synthetic biology, supported by conversation exercises, citizen-narratives, and futuristic scenarios.”

After analyzing 26 OL test sessions the researchers “(…) hypothesize that informal learning environments in science museums could support the reflection on R&I for RRI purposes in various ways.” Don’t miss their paper available open access here if you would like to know more about their study and how to develop exhibits for RRI reflection.