NANOTOTOUCH: Nanosciences live in science centres and museums


NANOTOTOUCH brings scientific research and laboratory equipment to science museums and science centres.

The main tool to communicate nanotechnology and knowledge sharing is the Open Nano Lab, first implemented by the Deutsches Museum in 2006. It is a fully functional nanotechnology laboratory situated in the public space of a science museum or science centre.  Visitors to the Open Nano Lab can directly observe and gain insight into the processes and methods of a modern laboratory.

The Open Nano Lab has been implemented in the science museums of Gothenburg and Milan, partners in the project.

Another communication tool is The Nano Researcher Live, which provides an opportunity for the public to meet a nanotechnology researcher and increase their awareness of advances and challenges in the field.  It is a new format of live debate between the public and nanotechnology researchers in science centres, using exhibits, demonstrations and interactive experiments to better explain different aspects of nanotechnology research.

The presentations are organised by the project's science centres on a regular basis in close collaboration with researchers. The Nano Researcher Live has been implemented in science centres in Mechelen, Naples and Tartu.

NANOTOTOUCH has seven main objectives:

1.    Create a sustainable infrastructure of public sites to present either the Open Nano Lab or the Nano Researcher Live
2.    Allow the public to experience day-to-day practices and processes of nanotechnology research
3.    Engage the public in dialogue with nanotechnology researchers
4.    Engage the public in a debate over ethical issues and societal implications of nanotechnology
5.    Attract young people into museums, through collaboration with teachers and school programmes
6.    Establish new role models and possible career paths for young scientists and researchers
7.    Provide research and educational organisations with a viable collaboration model.

The project offers young scientists (PhD students and post-docs) a 3-6 months secondment in a science museum/centre where they can communicate directly with the public while carrying out their research. The secondment also includes workshops to improve their communications skills; the training focuses on the following topics:

-    Translating complex scientific issues into day-to-day language
-    Museum and science centres as specific communication channels
-    Visitor expectations
-    Current public debates concerning nanotechnologies

The scientists will work with one of the project communication tools: Open Nano Lab or Nano Researcher Live.

The project has produced a handbook, "Professional guidelines for establishing an Open Nano Lab", which describes the structures and capabilities necessary for the communication of research and discussion of the societal and ethical aspects of nanotechnology.

NANOTOTOUCH establishes new role models for choosing a science career: young people considering studying science at university can discuss various aspects with young researchers who themselves recently made this decision.

The project partners actively cooperate with local schools and teachers to attract more people into science and nanotechnology.

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