This is an extended version of an article that appeared in the January/February 2014 issue of ASTC’s Dimensions magazine
ON PARTNERING WITH RESEARCHERS
Increasingly, as many science centers move from presenting just basic science to including more topical and contemporary science, one challenge faced by many centers is in the research and development of exhibition content. Interesting and contemporary topics like nanotechnology, climate change, viruses, and even the Large Hadron Collider can engage the public but require some explaining.
The Science Centre Singapore has found that working with suitable partners can be a tremendous help in the development of a good exhibition. The partners in question are research scientists from universities as well as research institutions. For example, in our Earth, Our Untamed Planet exhibition, we collaborated with the Earth Observatory Singapore and were able to tap the expertise of some of the world’s leading Earth scientists to develop an exhibition that brought the topic to life while presenting some of the latest thinking in the field, as well as many local and regional examples. This has resulted in an exhibition that not only engages the public, but also is a valuable resource to science and even geography teachers.
The key to effective collaboration is to find a partner that shares similar objectives related to the promotion of science. Very often, many research institutions have a mandatory public outreach component tied to their research funding. When they collaborate with a local science center, research institutions benefit by fulfilling their public outreach missions and leaving the development of public programs to the expertise of the science center. Science centers benefit by tapping the expertise of research scientists at the leading edge of that field of study.
In order to maintain such collaborations, we actively visit and maintain ongoing relationships with all the universities and many research institutions in the country. Such visits, discussions, and sharing of ideas often result in new exhibition ideas and opportunities for funding.
Jyotika Thukral, senior communications officer, Science Centre Singapore