Science and technology policy

Enhancing life-long learning about science: museums, science festivals and science weeks

 

"Ciência Viva"-Centres in Portugal promote life-long learning in science

In Portugal, a network of "Ciência Viva"- Centres as well as periodic national campaigns for scientific diffusion promote life-long learning in science. Established all over Portugal, the centres are part of a larger national "Ciência Viva"- campaign aimed at the promotion of scientific and technological culture. Four centres are already part of the network, i.e. the "Pavilion of Knowledge", the "Infante D. Henrique Exploratorium", the "Oporto Planetarium" as well as a centre in Faro.

In the Centres, interest in science is being fostered through interactive activities and exhibitions such as "Fun Science"- birthday parties for kids, training courses for teachers and special support for students. The Centres also serve as a meeting place for those who, at a regional level, occupy roles in economy, culture or education. The Pavilion of Knowledge serves as the major actor in the whole network of "Ciência Viva"- Centres. Since its opening in 1999, it has presented a total of six interactive science and technology exhibitions from various science centres around the world such as "The Earth- A dynamic planet" or "The Human Factor", an interactive exposition on the ergonomics of the human body.

The success of the "Ciência Viva"- centres has lead to a widespread interest of other regions in creating similar establishments. Altogether six centres are being planned, focussing on a variety of areas such as social science, environment or meteorology. The web site of the "Ciência Viva"- centres at http://www.cienciaviva.pt/centros/ offers additional valuable information.


Finnish Science Centre "Heureka" Features Constantly Changing Exhibitions

The Finnish Science Centre, "Heureka", opened in 1989. Emanating from a small project group of the University of Helsinki, "Heureka" is now run by the Finnish Science Centre Foundation, a non-profit organisation. In addition to the main exhibition featuring over 200 exhibits, temporary exhibitions also take place. About three are organised per year, each running for about a year. The current exhibition "Flight!" demonstrates the science and technology of aviation. Visitors may fly in a fighter-training simulator, pedal up to the air with the help of a small motor or build paper planes. Based on the belief that informal settings provide an excellent possibility for learning, most of "Heureka"'s exhibitions are interactive.

Visitors may also see a show in the Verne Theatre featuring hemispheric films. Planetarium shows and multimedia productions are also produced in-house. For schools, the centre provides a special cafeteria whose bookshelves offer exhibition-related material and information bulletins. "Heureka" also offers workshops and children's laboratory programs tailored to the needs of school-classes. For further information, please consult the web site of the Finnish Science Centre "Heureka" at http://www.heureka.fi.


Japan's new Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation

In July 2001, the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation ("MeSci") was opened in Tokyo. Supported by the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), this is to become the national centre for public understanding of science and technology. Exhibitions and events organised by the museum cover four major themes: The Global Environment and Frontier, Life Sciences and Humans, The Technological Revolution and the Future, and Information Science and Technology and Society.

Besides permanent exhibitions, special exhibitions are organised several times a year on special themes chosen for the year such as "Science of Imagination". In addition, the museum organises monthly seminars and symposiums with the participation of scientists and engineers. One unique characteristic of "MeSci" is the establishment of research laboratories in the museum. Here, the museum organises workshops where everyone, from children to adults, can learn how research is conducted by observing scientists at work.

"MeSci" publishes quarterly journals and books; it also maintains a web site, which is seen as a valuable source for network-building. Please consult the museum's web site at http://www.miraikan.jst.go.jp/en/english/about/index.html if you wish to have further information on the museum's activities.


National Science Museum also promotes interest in Science in Japan

The Japanese National Science Museum offers a variety of new programs specifically aimed at young people. Interactive programs such as astronomical observations at night, open-air programs and garden tours have been organised. In addition, the museum has initiated an "Open Classroom" program with a focus on students in grades 1 to 12 who may participate free of charge. Different scientific topics from "Making a basic motor" to "Observing Ammonite fossils" are covered during the 2-hour programs. In the "Chemistry Is Fun"-demonstration lectures, students get the opportunity to carry out basic chemical experiments closely related to everyday life under the guidance of experts.

The museum also promotes life-long-learning of teachers and members of university faculty such as lecture-type activities for science faculty members or training courses for science teachers through guided tours and botanical art contests. The National Science Museum also offers the possibility of lending specimens for educational purposes.

These programs are fully supported by the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) with the aim of promoting life-long learning opportunities in science-related fields, especially among young people. A complete overview over the activities the National Science Museums offers is available at http://www.kahaku.go.jp/english/.


Portugal Launches National Campaigns for Diffusing Scientific Knowledge

The Portuguese Ministry of Science has launched national campaigns for diffusing scientific knowledge. The objective of these campaigns consists in the creation of scientific associations and in establishing a direct contact between experts in different fields of knowledge. Throughout the year, special exhibitions, open days at scientific institutions and events such as the "Science and Technology Week" are organised. In addition, astronomical observation events, geological expeditions or conferences are offered to the general public during the summer. A complete overview over the activities launched by the Portuguese Ministry of Science and Technology is available at their web site http://www.mct.pt.


Newsletter Keeps Finnish People Informed About Science

Eight times a year, the Federation for Finnish Learned Societies publishes the newsletter, "What happens in Science". The newsletter contains information on current issues relating to science, e.g. earth sciences or chemistry, on the events and publications of the learned societies as well as information on participating societies. The Federation for Finnish Learned Societies is a national co-operative body for more than 200 learned societies in Finland. With more than 100 periodicals and approximately 250 new titles published each year, it is also among the foremost academic publishers in Finland. For further information about the newsletter, please consult the web site of the Federation of Finnish Learned Societies at http://www.tsv.fi/engl/introd.htm.


The Finnish Committee for Public Information advises government on public understanding

As an advisory body of the Ministry of Education, the Committee for Public Information makes proposals to governmental authorities on means to disseminate public information. Each year, the Ministry of Education awards prizes for public information to writers and journalists based on the recommendations of the committee. Individuals and groups can also apply for these awards. (http://www.minedu.fi)


Finnish Science Days

Jointly organised by the Finnish Academies of Science and Letters, the Federation of Finnish Learned Societies and the Finnish Cultural Foundation, the Finnish "Science Days", which takes places every other year, has become the main science event in Finland. During two weeks, the general public has the opportunity to take part in lectures, discussions and exhibitions.

In 1999 and 2000, the event was jointly organised by the Polish Academy of Sciences and the Academy of Finland to allow for an exchange between both researchers of the two countries and between scientists and the general public. The exhibition "Polish Joint Archaeological Expedition to the Middle Nile Valley", for instance, presented the work and discoveries by the Polish expedition to the Middle Nile Valley in 1997. Major Polish scientific journals and magazines printed in English were also on display at the Academy of Finland. The event included eleven scientific symposia, e.g. on nitride semiconductors, several visiting lectures and a Finnish-Polish science policy seminar where the highlights of the Finnish science policy were presented. The event was very popular event in Finland as well as in Poland. For further information, please contact Ms. Marja-Liisa Liimatainen of the Secretary for International Affairs at the Academy of Finland at marja-liisa.liimatainen@aka.fi or the web site of the festival at http://www.tsv.fi/tieteenpaivat/.


"Questacon", a leading science centre in Australia.

With approximately 300 000 visitors per year, the National Science and Technology Center "Questacon" has become Australia's leading interactive science and technology centre. Besides presenting over 200 exhibits, the science centre also organises school excursions, birthday parties and shows such as "Dinostory", an interactive show about dinosaurs for kids. "Questacon" also provides teachers with educational materials, such as exhibition summaries, curriculum links to the national profiles in science, studies of society and environment for primary and secondary teachers and in-exhibition activities. The web site of the centre at http://www.questacon.edu.au/q_info.html offers additional information.


Research Gallery of Austrian Scientific Achievements To Be Opened in 2003

The Austrian Academy of Sciences is currently preparing a project called "Gallery of Research". Close to the main building of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, a building is being converted into a center for presenting Austria's contributions to worldwide research as well as current research achievements. Besides this permanent exposition, a variety of academic events are planned. The Gallery will be opened to the public in the year 2003. For additional information, please contact Dr. Martina Milletich of the Academy of Science, Martina.Milletich@oeaw.ac.at, or consult the website of the research gallery at http://www.oeaw.ac.at/english/about/galerie/galerie.html.


Austrian "Science Week" Attracts General Public

The "Science Week Austria" primarily targets people who may not have a remarkable interest in the sciences, i.e. who do not actively search for scientific information, but become nonetheless interested in science when offered the respective appealing information. The program, launched in the year 2000, comprises almost 1000 events taking place all over Austria. During the week, university departments, schools, research institutions, companies and associations present their scientific achievements and insights to the general public. The range of activities is very broad with discussions at scientific institutions or science cafés, expositions of research results and demonstrations of experiments in public locations. A "Magic Chemistry" show with students performing various chemical experiments is part of the program as well as a simulation of a volcanic eruption.

Three elements distinguish the "Science Week" from similar events: first, an emphasis on the presentation of scientific achievements and insights in a comprehensible, even humorous manner. This is also reflected in the choice of the sites for presentations. The scientific demonstrations are presented in public places such as railway stations, banks or department stores. Second, the event is carried out on a nation-wide level, with extensive media coverage. The motto "Science goes to the people" is realised. Third, the organiser aims at representing all scientific fields taught at Austrian universities such as chemistry, environment, education or earth sciences in order to give the public an overview of the multifaceted areas science embraces. The "Science Week"- website at http://www.scienceweek.at/english.html offers additional information on participants, an up-to-date event calendar as well as links to the participants.


The Vienna Technical Museum Features Additional Exhibitions

The Technical Museum in Vienna has been renovated and has added a number of hands-on devices and equipment to promote the understanding of basic principles of science. In addition to the established departments that organise and manage exhibitions in areas such as "Nature and Knowledge" or "Images and Technology", departments on "Information and Communication", "Technology in Everyday Life" and "Measuring and Testing" will soon be opened. Generally, the museum is organised in a way that primary data is displayed with exhibits and models in the form of explanatory texts and images. Supplementary information is made available at video displays and through film material or listening stations.

The Vienna Museum of Technology has also opened an Innovation Forum where scientific organisations, institutions and companies will be given an opportunity to present their products to a broad public. Permanently rotating exhibitions of current trends and innovations are also held, e.g. "Gadget Vacuum Cleaner", a current exhibition on hygiene in the household. For detailed information, please consult the museum's web site at http://www.tmw.ac.at/english/index.htm, which is also available in English.


Very Successful International Swedish Science Festival

For the 5th consecutive year, the International Science Festival has been organised in Gothenburg. Every year, the program is structured around three major themes: in 2002, for instance, they were "Life and medicine", "Travelling and Scientific Expeditions" and "Worth Knowing". Besides presenting a wide spectrum of exhibits on science-related topics, the festival also features lectures, workshops, expeditions, tours and hands-on activities such as an experimental workshop on heat transfer at an old power plant. One special characteristic of the festival is that the activities are not restricted to museums, but do also take place in cafes and shopping malls.

In 2001, more than 200 organisations participated in the festival, including most Swedish universities, a large number of national and international research institutes, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (KVA), the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences (IVA), the Swedish Academy and several universities from Norway, Finland and France. The Department of Thermo and Fluid Dynamics at Chalmers University of Technology, for instance, opened its laboratories and offered tours to interested people.

The primary objective of the Science Festival consists in bringing science to the public while at the same time offering a meeting place to the research community. A survey carried out by Anders Pousette in 2001 indicates that these goals have been met: almost all (99 %) of the visitors enjoyed the festival and four in five visitors claimed to having been inspired to learn more. The website of the 2001 International Science Festival is available at http://www.vetenskapsfestival.se/english/index.html.


Flemish Science Week offers more than 500 different activities

The Flemish Science Week, which will be held in October 2002 for the fifth time, is part of a national Action Plan of the Flemish government to foster the public understanding of science and technology. Organised every two years, the event offers activities and special projects related to science and technology. The Science Week offers information on exact and biomedical sciences as well as human and social sciences. Universities, scientific institutions, museums, libraries and observatories also take an active part in the initiative.

In addition to the scientific exhibitions at the Expo in Gent, a special program, "Science through a lens", targets pupils in 3rd or 4th grade of secondary education and provides over 35 special exhibitions and 500 different projects in collaboration with Flemish universities. Natural sciences such as biology or chemistry but also social sciences, art and culture are represented.

According to a survey regarding the Flemish Science Week 2000, 90% of the visitors claim to be interested in science and technology. One in three visitors (34%) even claimed to be a lot more interested in science and technology after the participation in the Science Week. Over 90% of the Flemish population interviewed after the festival said that they found it useful that the Flemish government informs about S&T research through activities such as the Science Week. For additional information, please contact the web site of the Flemish Science Week at http://www.vlaamsewetenschapsweek.be/ (Flemish only).


The Flemish Science Centre "Technopolis": an Active Promoter of Science and Technology

The Flemish Science Centre "Technopolis" offers more than 259 interactive exhibitions as well as a broad range of programs aimed at providing an informative experience for people aged 6 to 96. The activities are co-ordinated around six major themes.

In the "Workshop", people can learn more about the working of everyday objects, for example electric circuits, or the generation of energy. Even such activities as launching a rocket or pedalling on a bike to activate a TV set are possible in this section. The part dedicated to the "Action-Reaction" theme allows people to direct their own film, drive go-karts with square wheels or score on an elliptic billiard table with two balls. After a ride in a car under pre-selected weather conditions and blood alcohol levels, visitors have the possibility to check the statistics to compare how well they have done. A flight simulator that is completely built in the cockpit of an aeroplane can be used in the "Air & Wind" section to test the navigation talents of the visitors. Measuring the contents of lungs or hearing the sounds of diseases such as bronchitis or pneumonia are also possible here. In the "Building Blocks" section, bridges and other structures can be examined and a computer program shows people how these structures will look in 20 or 30 years.

The Science Centre "Technopolis" also has an auditorium where science shows take place, a theatre and a cafeteria looking out on the exhibition. For additional information, please contact the "Technopolis" Centre at info@technopolis.be or log on to the web site of the centre at http://www.technopolis.be/en/.


Largest Adult Education Initiative Ever Undertaken in Sweden

Commissioned by the Swedish government, the National Agency for Higher Education created "SciTech", a five-year program to enhance public interest in science and technology especially among young adults. Another objective of the program is to stimulate the development of new methods of education in these fields. In order to offer a wide variety of courses and programs, for instance IT courses on the popular subject "computer knowledge", various types of institutions, for example schools, institutions of higher education and Swedish communities work together. Besides these courses, the program offers career counselling for careers in science and technology and individually tailored study plans. Courses, which prepare students for higher education are also organised.

A unique characteristic of the initiative is its focus on gender equality. Special university classes for women have been arranged within the framework of the SciTech program. This may have contributed to the recent increase in the share of girls studying science and technology in Sweden. The funding of the Adult Education Initiative is being provided by the Swedish government, which attributes approximately 400 million euro annually to the project. For additional information on the project, please contact the National Agency for Higher Education at hsv@hsv.se or consult the web site of the "Scitech" project at http://www.eng.hsv.se/en/CollectionServlet/6/16/31.html.

 

 

 

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