Kings of interactivity, science museums are reinventing themselves and bringing experiments into the digital world – 07/08/2021 – science

One of the main characteristics of science museums is interactivity – touch, hear and feel arouse curiosity in the visitor and encourage learning like a game. However, all of this is currently out of reach due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

These institutions are among the most outstanding points of science dissemination – which is celebrated in Brazil this Thursday (8) with the National Day of Science and Scientific Researcher.

“Museums and science centers were very influential during the pandemic. The presence of people and the ability to touch things are the essence of these spaces, and this is not possible now, ”says Fatima Brito, Director of the Programs Department at the Casa da Ciência of the UFRJ (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro) .

The path was to take these museums into the digital world, with virtual video conference visits showing the collection and experiments, or live broadcasts (life) on topics from Alzheimer’s disease to native astronomy.

The material produced during the period is available on the Internet and is already being consulted on the subjects by professors, students and those seeking knowledge.

“It was a challenge, but expanding our web presence has brought many benefits. We now have a trained team to work with and we have expanded our reach to include the public in other cities who can visit us later.” says Carlos Lucena, director of the PUCRS Science and Technology Museum (Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul) in Porto Alegre.

The space reopened on May 26th, but with reduced capacity and adjustments. The museum, which used to receive around 100,000 people a year, can now have a maximum of 150 visitors a day – less than half the usual audience. And not all experiments are accessible during the visit.

In the social networks of the PUCRS museum, space educators demonstrate the experiments of the place and explain the scientific basis behind them. For example, the Foucault pendulum, which is home to space, is an easy way to show that the earth (which is round, it’s worth remembering) rotates on its own axis.

MM Gerdau – Museum for Mining and Metal, in Belo Horizonte, relies on virtually mediated visits that are carried out via video conference. The location, which has been closed since March 2020, is financed by the country’s largest steel producer.

There, visitors can immerse themselves in the world of geology and mining, including contact (at that time, from a distance) with examples of stones rarely seen by the public.

According to Márcia Guimarães, director of MM Gerdau, the virtual public sphere of the place has more than doubled due to the greater presence in the social networks – it rose from around 2 million in 2019 to more than 4 million in 2020. Even people from the Foreign countries have started to have contact with the institution, says Guimarães.

Virtual tours in the MM Gerdau offer three travel options and take place at certain times. Participation must be planned via a link on the institution’s Instagram. Teachers who are working with their students on a museum-related topic can also get in touch and request a stronger focus on the topic. The institution also has online exhibitions on the Google Arts & Culture platform.

“It is very important that digital actions are not lost after the pandemic. A lot of people without money and with a cell phone, who couldn’t come here, can get into the museum this way, ”says Guimarães.

The UFMG Knowledge Space is located next to MM Gerdau on the Praça da Liberdade. The state-of-the-art science education center has also been closed since March 2020.

The Indigenous Worlds exhibition that was on at the time the room was closed has been converted into a series of videos for YouTube, and the planetarium’s astronomy sessions, the only one in town, have become a series of live broadcasts on the channel called Videos Discovering Heaven.

“It was a radical but fruitful change, the result of the integration and motivation of the entire team. We have monthly access controls to our website and the media, and the growth is surprising,” says Diomira Faria, Scientific and Cultural Director of Espaço do Conhecimento .

“The virtual does not replace the face-to-face. As with other forms of cultural consumption, the virtual is complementary. For the post-pandemic, we are relying on hybrid models, face-to-face activities that go hand in hand with virtual ones, ”adds Faria.

In UFRJ’s Casa da Ciência, a blog aggregates all content that is also sent to social networks. In one of the most recent series of publications, Bastidores da Ciência, the UFRJ laboratories are the main protagonists.

“At this moment, when we see a denial of science in society, we need more channels to publish what research institutes are developing. It is an incentive for more laboratories to showcase their production. Who knows that we may not have more scientists in the world with this “future?” Says Fatima Brito, director of the program department.

Luciane Correia Simões, cultural producer at Casa da Ciência, says that the team had to complete training in order to be able to produce the content for scientific dissemination on the Internet. “It’s not easy to deal with this more modern language,” he says. The experience was challenging for Simões, but it opened up new possibilities for the institution: “One day we will go viral,” he says.

The Newton Freire Maia Science Park in the city of Pinhais in the metropolitan area of ​​Curitiba focused on modernizing the premises and building new experiments on site in the first months of the pandemic. In recent months, the park has started broadcasting astronomy sessions over the internet on the youtube.com/user/ParquedaCienciaPR channel.

The park’s planetarium is a pioneer in showcasing traditional and indigenous astronomy with constellations that make up typical Brazilian animals such as the tapir and rhea.

“We were surprised by the effect of the videos and want to expand. We cannot reach all schools in Paraná, not even with the traveling exhibition we run. Digital media are a quick way of conveying knowledge at a time when people are reliable Need material. ” says Anisio Lasievicz, director of the park, which has more than 8 thousand square meters of exhibition space.

One of the largest references in scientific dissemination centers in the country, the Catavento Museum in São Paulo, has been open since the end of April, but the public, which used to include around 2,500 people a day, can now only exceed 490 people … daily, um to avoid a crowd.

The visit must be arranged in advance on one of the museum’s phones, and some parts of the building are still closed. “Places without adequate ventilation or that could be overcrowded will remain closed for the time being,” says Pamela Andrade, historian who is part of Catavento’s educational program.

At the same time, Catavento has developed activities in social networks in which the institution’s entire team of experts was involved. Video series available on YouTube cover much of the museum’s activities and history.

Last year the Itatiba Zooparque in Itatiba (about 80 kilometers from São Paulo) inaugurated the “Travel for the Evolution and Biodiversity of the World” room, a science museum that covers several areas of knowledge in a wide area, with more than 2 thousand Square meters of exhibition.

The ticket (R $ 30 for children aged 3 to 11 and R $ 70 for adults) allows you to visit the museum and the zoo held there.

For institutional managers, the pandemic has shown that the digital transformation is here to stay, but on the museums side, it still needs to be polished, and on the government side, there is a need to have access to quality internet and devices that allow it expand the available teaching material to enjoy.

According to managers, the public schools were the ones to suffer the most from room closures. “We got free schools that are in areas of social vulnerability and now we are unable to serve that public with technology,” says Lucena of the PUCRS Museum.

Where can I find science museums

Catavento Museum (São Paulo)

When: personal visits from Wednesday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Mandatory appointments by telephone (11) 3315 0051 and (11) 3246 4140, from Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

How much: BRL 10 (full) and BRL 5 (half)

Where: Avenida Mercurio, s / n – Dom Pedro II Park

Internet programming: instagram.com/museucatavento; facebook.com/cataventocultural and youtube.com/user/CataventoCultural

Science and Technology Museum – PUCRS (Porto Alegre)

When: personal visits Tuesday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mandatory appointment by phone (51) 3320-3521, email mct@pucrs.br and website pucrs.br/mct

How much: BRL 20

Where: 6681 Ipiranga Avenue – Parthenon

Internet programming: facebook.com/museudapucrs; tiktok.com/@museudapucrs and twitter.com/museupucrs

MM Gerdau – Museum for Mining and Metal (Belo Horizonte)

Internet programming: instagram.com/mmgerdau

UFMG knowledge space (Belo Horizonte)

Internet programming: instagram.com/espacoufmg; facebook.com/espacodoknowledgeufmg and youtube.com/user/espacoufmg

UFRJ Science House (Rio de Janeiro)

Internet programming: casadaciencia.ufrj.br; youtube.com/user/CasadaCiencia and instagram.com/casadacienciadaaufrj

Newton Freire Maia Science Park (Pinhais, Curitiba Metropolitan Area)

Internet programming: parquedaciencia.pr.gov.br; instagram.com/parquedaciencia and youtube.com/user/ParquedaCienciaPR

Itatiba Zoo Park (Itatiba, Campinas Metropolitan Region)

When: personal visits daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

How much: R $ 35 (children from 3 to 11 years) and R $ 70 (adults); Children up to 2 years have free entry

More information on the website: zooparque.com.br

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