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Science Education and Dissemination

Mônica Valdyrce dos Anjos Lopes Ferreira, Coordinator

 

INTRODUCTION

 

The scientific, social and cultural roles of research institutions and universities will be entirely legitimated when knowledge dissemination actions are generated with the objective to integrate research and teaching activities. At the same time, dissemination of scientific knowledge is fundamental for the critical and conscious involvement of society in science & technology themes, presupposing that these actions can transform people’s life and generate specific skills.

 

At different levels, such actions involve the generation of scientific knowledge from the research developed in basic biomedical fields, educational area and history of science.

 

This Plan will follow the originally proposed and successfully developed, since 2009, by the INCT in Toxins, built up in collaboration with the University of São Paulo, plus additional activities. Seeking to cover distinct aspects of education and dissemination of scientific knowledge, this Plan will include: thematic workshops and advanced courses focused in the multiple areas involved in this Center; research in non-formal education in science museums with production of educational and communication tools; management of scientific registers and research on the history of Toxinology.

 

Existing literature largely focuses on dissemination of knowledge and cultural representations within art museums and how it relates to the social order, education, and ways of creating cultural knowledge and capital. The production and dissemination of scientific knowledge, on the other hand, has been treated in an academic sense and usually focuses on the role of the scientist. A science museum with active scientific research is a combination of both these fields of study (museums and scientific knowledge) and will be here addressed as such. As science learning in non-school settings is receiving increased attention both in practice and in the research literature, the museums of the host institution (Biological, Historical and Microbiology Museums of Butantan Institute) will play a key partnership role in this collaboration. Thus, this

 

Education and Dissemination Knowledge Plan intends to highlight the importance of the science museums in the process of formation of citizens, reinforcing the role of this kind of museums in the appropriation of scientific knowledge by the students and other audiences. In this perspective, this Plans aims to stimulate and strengthen links between research and academic institutions, museums and schools, in three strands which are described below.

 

BASIC AND ADVANCED SCIENTIFIC UPDATE

 

A systematic program of workshops will be developed to update and review the state-of-art of scientific and technological ongoing research projects involving all participating groups. These events aim different audiences, such as investigators, graduate and post-graduate students related to Immunology, Pharmacology, Pathophysiology, System Biology, and Medicine. These workshops will establish multi-institutional collaborative networks and high level scientific study groups, strengthening the investigations in course, and providing an environment to gather senior investigators and students at different levels and institutions. All lectures given will be recorded, transcribed and gathered in periodical publications, either printed or electronic. The access to the publications, as well as to the digital material, will be freely available to students and investigators for academic purposes. Also, talks and debates with scientists will give to scholars an opportunity to interact with investigators involved in all fields of research developed at CEPID, where scientists would explain their current work in a moderated discussion with the audience, and questions should be encouraged throughout. The sessions will take place in the setting of science museums and research laboratories, covering a broad variety of topics.

 

The experiences and researches exchange in such collaborative environments will support the production of dissemination materials, such as manuals and videos about animal envenomations, contributing to improve assistance and prevention of health problems. Partnerships with governmental agencies, either at federal, regional or local levels, are expected to provide conditions to distribute these materials to health professionals, especially those working in the most relevant areas in terms of epidemiological risk and lack of access to information.

 

In order to amplify the impact of these events, technological resources and communication infrastructure (such as video-conferences) already available at the Butantan Institute, will be used in workshops, seminars, lectures, public thesis defenses, distance learning courses and telemedicine. All contents, events and news related to CEPID activities will be posted in the host institution’s website. A blog can also be an important tool for different audiences to exchange information about recent advances in basic research, technological development, diseases and other health problems related to the CEPID investigations.

 

LABORATORY OF NON FORMAL EDUCATION AND SCIENCE DISSEMINATION

 

Through experiences acquired in the previous CEPID and INCT in Toxins, this Laboratory may consolidate and renew the extroversion actions at Butantan Institute, strengthening a new area that already has projects supported by financial agencies (CAPES, FAPESP and CNPq). The Plan thus intends to produce cutting-edge knowledge, and consolidate CEPID as a pole of generating innovation in non-formal education and science dissemination for students and other audiences. The Laboratory will be held at the Butantan Institute and their activities will be developed by researchers specialized in education in museums and under or post-graduate students.

 

Partnerships will be carried out with the Faculty of Education and the Institute of Biosciences of the University of São Paulo. All participants have long experience in exhibiting scientific collections and investigating public understanding of science.

 

The proposal is to investigate the processes of collection and content selection, and the objectives of the exhibitions, as well as analyze the ways by which objects and texts provide scientific knowledge. These investigations will be developed in the following research areas: Sociology and Epistemology of education in museums, and audience learning.

 

The influences of political, economic, cultural and social contexts in the museums educational activities will be investigated in the sociological area. Systems, actors and institutions that build, control and legitimate the educational activities will be studied.

 

The epistemological approach intends to comprehend teaching and learning processes of scientific knowledge in science museums, specifically in Biology. We will investigate the role of collections in the development of museum educational activities, trying to understand how biological knowledge influences the way of exhibiting, teaching and learning processes in museums.

 

The impact of educational actions will be analyzed from audience researches, especially with school audiences, in order to develop specific methodologies for non-formal education. The study will identify the socio-demographic and cultural profile of audience of the science museums, their motivations, interests, opinions and preferences. The data obtained in the host institution’ museums (Butantan Institute) will be taken as reference and compared with other registers obtained in similar science museums researches. As a result, we expect to improve the comprehension of the relations between different audiences and scientific contents and to offer subsidies to establish public policies in cultural and educational fields.

 

The main scientific contents studied in the CEPID, directly related to the current research projects on Biochemical Models, Bio-prospection, Biodiversity and History of Science, in connection with the studies in non-formal educational research fields, will allow us to understand how these concepts are produced, disseminated and perceived in museums, reinforcing their role in the educational system. Results of sociological, epistemological and audience researches will support the production of educational materials and exhibitions, as following:

 

Conception and development of exhibitions: Temporary and traveling exhibitions will present issues produced by the different researches. For instance, a temporary exhibition of the history of Toxinology can be produced using scientific registers as source for historical investigations, focusing on highlighting the nonlinear development of Science. Educational visits and materials (printed and/or electronic) related to these exhibitions will reinforce the scientific and historical aspects of knowledge development for school and non-school audiences.

 

The temporary interactive exhibitions will be installed at the host institution while the traveling exhibitions will circulate among the partner institutions and scientific dissemination events; all will be open for free visitation.

 

Content development, design and production of educational materials: The educational materials will be developed as tools of science museums exhibits and educational activities, aiming to stimulate the interest and curiosity of the audiences. These materials may be used in different programs, as listed:

 

School Program: catered to all ages and levels, especially the elementary and high school, offering curriculum-linked activities, such as Microbiology Laboratory, and hands-on activities where students can handle real specimens from zoological collections. Furthermore, a series of educational videos will be produced for elementary and high school teachers and managers. This product can help teachers to plan the visits in advance and make them more productive, minimizing the possibilities of having children and teenagers rushing through the galleries without an opportunity for observation and discovery.

 

Family Program: we are attempting to develop special exhibit area and a range of engaging activities designed to appeal to and include all members of the family, specially pre-scholars and primary-school children.

 

Program for disabled groups: it is essential for the science museums involved in this Plan to promote accessibility and participation of people with disability in the educational activities. In this way, some products can be developed to provide information and services in a range of accessible formats, such as large print and tactile versions of key information about the exhibitions, audio recordings, replica of selected objects displayed along with “Braille labels”, specially designed kit boxes on the models of specimens and antiquities to get a clear concept of objects, animals, insects, microorganisms, DNA, etc. All educational materials will incorporate results of research developed by the Center and will be developed in accordance with the pre-existing programs of the science museums included in this Plan. They may be produced in different supports: electronic, such as CD-ROMs and on line exhibits; or printed, such as games, booklets and guides. Those products with a great potential to become part of small businesses will be included in the Transfer of Technology Plan.

 

MANAGEMENT ON SCIENTIFIC REGISTERS AND RESEARCH ON THE HISTORY OF TOXINOLOGY

 

The evaluation of documents produced in basic research laboratories supports the comprehension of the historical processes related to specific scientific fields, the academic trajectories of scientists and the institutional and government mechanisms and politics. In Brazil, this analysis points out the importance of the Toxinology for the development of different fields of science, such as Herpetology, Pharmacology, Immunology and Biochemistry.

 

At the beginning of 20th Century, Vital Brazil initiated studies on poisonous animals and their venoms, opening a new field of science. During more than a hundred years, the work of many scientists had been decisive to provide subsidies for the birth of Toxinology at Butantan Institute. This also stimulated Brazilian investigators in other academic institutions to study animal biology and toxins, resulting in decisive contributions to the development of Biomedical Sciences, such as the isolation and characterization of anti-hypertensive proprieties in the venom of the Brazilian Bothrops jararaca snake. To support the investigation of the History of Toxinology in Brazil, interviews with scientists and a documentation research will be developed. Renowned investigators will be interviewed following a semi-structured schedule in order to obtain relevant information regarding the initial hallmarks of their scientific trajectories, a brief description of the main studies, difficulties or barriers, expectations or projections of the researches for the future; after formal consent, the interviews will be recorded and transcribed. The documentation research will be carried out at Butantan Institute, following three steps: 1. Identification of documents, by producer, destination and sharing mechanism, according to pre-established criteria (public, private or confidential); 2. Description of documents, by form (originals, copies, drafts) and typology (reports, bulletins, papers, etc) and 3. Preservation and dissemination of documents, transferring them to electronic support (digitalization and constitution of a database repository), as sources of academic research. This proposal will be conducted by experienced archivists and historians of the host institution, in collaboration with principal and associate investigators, reinforcing the interdisciplinary aspects of CEPID. The main results of the documentation research will be an archive guide for historians and archivists of History of Science and Health and a Toxinology database (and thesaurus). In addition to this, a book series will be published to provide biographical information about the selected investigators, their scientific production and the socio-cultural context in that it has been produced.

  

Team

Mônica Valdyrce dos Anjos Lopes Ferreira, Coordinator

Fernanda Paiva Guimarães, Communication Coordinator

Carolina Pereira Liauw, Manager

Adriana Mortara Almeida, Associate Investigator

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