Science and technology policy

Using new information and communication technology for public understanding of science


Award-winning web site of the Australian's Institute of Marine Science

The Australian's Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) has recently been awarded the "Web Feet Seal of Approval", an award by a group of librarians and educators given to websites considered outstanding in their area. In addition to information on animals such as sea turtles or sea snakes, the website allows the visitor to watch videos, for instance "What's for Dinner? - A tiger shark on the search for prey", read journals such as the "Mariner's Journal" or access information about the condition of the reefs. The website also offers background information on current news articles.

The strength of the web site consists in its multitude of pictures and videos and the attractive visual layout. As a result, the Australian Institute of Marine Science receives e-mail queries from around the world on a daily basis, which demonstrates an extraordinary interest in the scientific field of marine research. For further information, please go to the web site of AIMS at

New Finnish Science Channel "YLE Teema" Launched

The widespread use of information and communication technologies by the Finnish public has led to the launch of a new digital TV channel, "YLE Teema", exclusively dedicated to culture, science and education. The channel collaborates with influential figures and decision-makers in the fields of culture and science in order to offer high-quality Finnish and foreign programs.

Research into natural sciences covered by a magazine program called "Prisma", is televised as science and nature documentaries and educational programs. Due to the close collaboration of the TV-station with scientific institutions and universities, public lectures such as those in the University of Helsinki's Studia Generalia series are also to be televised. Supplementary services such as the learning portal, including interactive learning programs via supertext TV and the internet will be available starting from the year 2003. In addition, a special sister program called "Prisma Junior" with a focus on children and young adults has been created. The series "Great Inventions", for example, takes a look at the history of science. Further information about the programs televised at "YLE Teema" is available at the web site

New Paths in S&T-Communication in the Netherlands

The Netherlands Foundation for Public Communication on Science and Technology (WeTen), which co-ordinates and reinforces S&T communication on a national level, has launched two new programs to enhance public understanding of science: a fund for scientific editors and the Internet site and digital databank "Kennislink".

The "WeTen" fund is used to award prizes, up to a sum of 30000 euros per year, to scientific editors or journalists who excel in the coverage of scientific topics. In 2002, for example, prizes were given to the producers of the science program "Noorderlicht", the author of a book related to science, and a science journalist. The objective of this program is to broaden and deepen the media coverage related to science and technology and to emphasize the importance of science for the society in general. The Foundation also provides institutes and science journalists with professional information and advice on science communication practice and stimulates media training for scientists.

The new web site and digital database "Kennislink" serves a similar purpose. Being primarily aimed at youths, the site presents a large amount of information on science and technology-related topics illustrated with images and multimedia elements. More information on both initiatives is available (Dutch only) at

New Norwegian Website Covers Ongoing Scientific Research

The Research Council of Norway, several Norwegian universities and scientific institutions have jointly taken an initiative to launch a nationally co-ordinated electronic information system. The website, aimed at the general public, fulfils the task of communicating science-related knowledge and discoveries and presents topics of ongoing research in Norway. The most important contributors to the contents of the site are the academic institutions.

Run by science journalists, the academic content is easily accessible for the general public. A special section is to be integrated in order to make the contents understandable for students. So far, the website has been very well received by both schools and the general public. Since the Internet is expected to become an even more important information source for research in the future, an annual budget of more than 4 million NOK, i.e. 600000 euros, is allocated to this web site. For more information, please consult the Research Council of Norway's web site at (Norwegian only).

New Gateway to Internet Resources on Science in the UK ("Public Engagement with Science") is a gateway to previously evaluated Internet sources relating to public communication of science. The target group of the website is the general public. A special emphasis is also being put on science promotion practitioners, science researchers and scientists who wish to communicate their findings and experiences to lay audiences.

The content of the web site consists of a monthly bibliography of relevant articles in different scientific areas. Visitors may use the search engine to find links to additional web sites on a specific topic. The site also offers links to science centres and museums, associations related to scientific research, a calendar of upcoming events and an electronic discussion forum.

The web site "psci-com" is developed and managed by the Wellcome Library at the Wellcome Trust, an independent British research-funding charity. For further information, please consult the "psci"-web site at

Advanced Digital Study Material in Science Education for every Japanese Classroom

Within the scope of an initiative to promote public understanding of science and technology-related issues in Japan, the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) launched a special project called "Rika-e" aimed at enhancing the science education in Japanese classrooms.

It is envisaged to provide every Japanese school with advanced digital study materials for science and technology education. The contents will cover various topics on science and technology including the latest research outcomes. The learning materials correspond with the guidelines of the Japanese National Curriculum Standard, making them easy to use for teachers in daily lessons. Furthermore, the distribution of the study materials via the Internet allows teachers to use up-to-date learning materials in their classes. It is planned that, by the end of the year 2005, every classroom in Japan will have the possibility to access the study materials via the Internet.

A close co-operation with textbook companies and the use of the latest technology such as science simulation programs in the development of the materials guarantee the high quality and timeliness of the study materials. Through these measures, the initiators of the "Rika-e" program aim at reducing the gap between the contents in textbooks and science and technology in the real world. More information on the "Rika-e"- initiative of the Japanese government is being provided on the website of the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology at

New Austrian Science Channel Online

Since January 2001, a new Internet science channel of the Austrian Radio and TV Corporation (ORF) is online. Both journalists of the ORF and academics in Austria participate in the project and use the medium Internet for disseminating information about scientific topics. The coverage is done in a way that is easily understandable for the general public but at the same time at a high standard.

Besides a news sector with constantly updated reports on science and research and background information about topics such as health, environment and culture, the site offers an up-to-date event calendar. In addition, the "Science Forum", a platform for the publication of recent scientific research findings for the Austrian research community, has been established. Finally, the science channel offers a broad selection of links to research institutions and to issues under discussion. Forthcoming is a new scheme "Ask your scientist" where the public has the opportunity to ask questions with a scientific content via the internet channel to the web-editors, who select and forward the most interesting ones to the scientists. The responses are formulated in everyday language for easy understanding by the broad public.

The new online science channel allows information to flow freely between researchers and between researchers and the general public. It enables scientists working in related fields to exchange information. It also offers the general public the chance to get into contact with scientific researchers or to take part in a public discussion forum. The Internet Science Channel has become one of the major internet portals which, according to the independent Austrian Internet Radar (AIR), reaches to more than 16% of the Austrian population. For further information or the latest science news, please consult the Science Channel Online at

New Information Service on Finnish Science and Technology

Launched in December 2001, the new information service on Finnish science and technology,, is another approach for public understanding of science. The overall aim of this information service is to build up the knowledge base of Finnish science and technology and relative indicators, and to cater for the needs of decision-making, monitoring and evaluation. The service is jointly provided by Finnish authorities in S&T, e.g. the Ministry for Trade and Industry and the Academy of Finland.

It contains key statistics and other data about different factors of the Finnish science and technology system. In addition, links for more in-depth information such as statistical publications, documents and databases are provided. The new website is the most up-to-date information source available as it presents the most recent statistical data from Nordic countries, Japan, the USA as well as the EU countries. It is envisaged to extend the scope of the service gradually, for example to include information about research and technology programs, international scientific co-operation and high-tech production.

TV series "About Life" features science documentaries for Belgian viewers

"About Life" ("OverLeven") is a new program featuring documentaries with a focus on recent scientific discoveries that are closely related to the everyday experiences of the average Belgian citizen. Transmitted every Sunday evening, recent series have been built around a prominent scientist who has been responsible for a scientific breakthrough in her/his field. Upcoming series will focus on a wide range of subjects such as the life of volcanoes, the history of the Vietnam War or explaining the phenomenon of crying.

The program is part of an action plan launched in 2000 by the Flemish Minister for Education and Training and the Flemish Minister for Finance and Budget, Innovation and Media to raise people's awareness of the importance of science and technology. A co-production of the Flemish Radio and Television (VRT) and the Flemish Community, the program is transmitted in Flemish. For more information about the individual programs as well as an overview over their contents, please consult the "OverLeven"-web site at (Flemish only).

Internet platform connects scientists and general public

The "Informationsdienst Wissenschaft" (Information service on scientific topics) is a science-based platform, which supports the public relations work of the press offices of over 400 universities and research institutions in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The web site serves as a link between scientific researchers and institutions on the one hand and the general public and journalists on the other hand, with the objective of improving the contacts between the scientific world and the public. All website services, supported by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), are free of charge for the users.

Besides offering access to the latest press releases from the world of science via the service "News Ticker", the "Informationsdienst Wissenschaft" also puts journalists into contact with scientific experts through the service, "Expert Broker". Here, journalists and scientists are brought together for an interview, or journalists may send their inquiries by email for experts to answer. The link "Address Book" offers direct online links to the participating institutions, e.g. universities, science academies and the industry. Through the link "Kiosk" visitors may access a comprehensive links to science centres, research facilities and international newspapers or magazines on scientific topics. Interested persons may also set up their own personal access to the internet platform which allows them to receive individually compiled press releases and information from specific scientific fields by email-subscription or by accessing their personal "newspage". A scientific event calendar offers information on upcoming science festivals or lectures. For more information, please consult "Informationsdienst Wissenschaft" at

The U.S. National Science Foundation Website offers information about on science education in US and the public understanding of science

The National Science Foundation (NSF), an independent agency of the U.S. Government, funds basic research but also invests more than a billion dollars annually in science and math education. The website of the NSF at includes recent news articles about primary, secondary and higher education, information about special initiatives such as the NSF Math & Science Partnership Program as well as reports on the subject of public understanding of science and technology.

The foundation closely collaborates with a number of government agencies related to science and education as well as research institutions on programs such as the "Plant Genome Research Program" or the "Global Ocean Ecosystem Dynamics Program". Researchers in all scientific areas such as geo-sciences, biology, engineering or polar research are eligible for funding under the NSF schemes.


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