What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a science center? There can be lots of answers. Some might say it’s a place to learn something new, have fun with your family or classmates, or do your own experiments. The 6th Science Centre World Congress (6SCWC), supported by the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) and held this September in Cape Town, South Africa, gathered 416 delegates from 56 countries to discuss everything a science center can be. One of these delegates was Ted Myers from our Miami Science Museum. He participated in discussions regarding the impact of science centers worldwide, how we may ensure that they continue to address science and technology related issues relevant to society, and how we may develop new collaborations with other international science centers.
One such collaboration has already begun. The Miami Science Museum and Maloka Museum of Bogotá, Colombia have been specially selected to partner on a project also co-sponsored by ASTC and discussed at 6SCWC. This SCEnaRioS project (Science Centers Engagement and the Rio Summit) will involve high school students from Miami and Bogotá in activities that use digital resources to learn about science issues that affect the south Florida and Colombian environments – mainly, accessibility to clean water, coastal management, disaster preparedness, and climate change. This project and other international SCEnaRioS partnerships around the world allow science centers to do what they do best: provide experiences that connect communities and young people with ongoing research and cutting-edge science and technology that affect our environments and lives. Initial plans for our project and other international collaborations were presented at 6SCWC, and SCEnaRioS results will be brought to the Planet Under Pressure Conference in London and the Rio+20 Earth Summit in 2012.
Not only did Mr. Myers meet delegates from all over the world to discuss effectively communicating science, he saw multi-cultural performances of song and dance, and even witnessed the Xhosa-style marriage blessing of two delegates from distant, international science centers. Looking forward to the 2014 Science Centre World Summit in Belgium!