Topic: Physical Sciences Subtopic: Structure & Properties of Matter

Case Study

of an Exhibition

by Sandra Murriello

Published on May 28, 2008, Modified on June 02, 2008

  • Description and goals

    Motivate scientific interest and curiosity on this emerging field, presenting basic notions on nanoscience and potential uses of nanotechnology.
    One guide and four facilitators lead an hour-long visit for a group with a maximum of 48 participants. After a video and a performance that give some basic ideas of size, scale, and about the constituents of mat¬ter, visitors participate in interactive and collaborative computer games. Each one of the four game stations, especially designed for this exhibition, simulates ex¬periments at the nanoscale, and can be played by up to 12 people simultaneously. It is worth noticing that the design of the games was intended to avoid as much as possible any kind of science fiction, and the design team tried to simulate experimental procedures that in principle could be carried out in real laboratories. These games were developed pretending to be in¬struments used to clean surfaces atom by atom with atomic force microscopes, to introduce specific drugs into a cell, to assemble nanocircuits with scanning mi¬croscopes, and to perform a virtual tour into scientific laboratories. After the games, a facilitator makes a summary of what the participants have seen, and data obtained from the actual performance of the teams is used to stimulate the participants. Finally, to close the session, a 3D video visually recovers some of the pre¬viously presented ideas, extending the experience to further questioning.

  • Development process and challenges

    The NanoAventura (NanoAdventure) was opened to the public in April, 2005. This is the first travelling exhibition of the UNICAMP Science Museum, a cultural and leisure centre that is being developed in the city of Campinas, in the state of São Paulo (Brazil).
    Two of the main challenges faced in the development of NanoAventura were the arousal of
    interest in an emerging science and a technology that are still distant from the everyday lives of the target audience and the musealization of objects and devices that cannot be seen by the naked eye.

  • Lessons learned, mistakes we made (and what we did about them)

    Evaluations, based on written questionnaires and interviews, were conducted since the first steps of the exhibition and showed some of the difficulties and challenges in communicating a scientific area that is still new to the target public.
    Some lessons …
    .Vistors get interested in nanoscience when discover that the nanometer scale exists.
    .The general attitude regarding this emergent field is rather positive and confident, based on optimistic views of technology. But it also emerged an appeal related to questions of biology and health.

    Some mistakes…
    .Is necessary to consider the teachers when planning an exhibition for children and teenagers.
    . Games language is useful for young people, children and teenagers but, in general, not for adults.

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