What´s your story?
Science engagement is made by a collective enthusiasm of practioners and researchers: Share with us your experiences, chronicles and charming stories, you must have quite a lot for sure! We are all ears (and eyes!)
Inner Mongolia by Enrico Balli
Last July I was invited to represent EUSEA at “The belt and road” International Science and Technology Exchange (Manzhouli) Forum organized by Inner Mongolia Association for Science and Technology and Manzhouli Municipal People’s Government.
After a long (very long!) journey, I landed at the Manzhouli airport, where Ms. Teng and Mr. Sun were waiting for me and some other international guests.
The Forum was organized to accelerate the building of the Belt and Road, especially strengthen international science and technology cooperation between China and adjacent area, optimize communication mechanism and enhance the friendship of the people.
The participants were from China, Mongolia and Russia, therefore Chinese, Russian and Mongol were the official languages: all the talks were translated into the three languages, I and a few western guests were provided with English translation.
After the greetings from the authorities and a warm welcome from the organizers, the forum was split in two sub forums, one about the traditional Mongolian medicine and the traditional Chinese medicine, the second about youth science and technology education.
It was an interesting experience, I have to say that everybody was extremely interested in the European way to manage many different aspects of science education beside the formal school system. After my tals, focused on the use of science and technology to mitigate the school dropout, a long queue of teachers was waiting to ask me several questions. The interpreter was really valuable, since most of them could not speak English. Many of the teachers have sent me emails after I came back to Italy, and we are still in touch, even if the language is still a problem. I hope that this will be the beginning of a distance discussion that can last in the future.
The organizers have also brought us to visit some of the interesting educational facilities of the Province: the Hulun Buir Nationality Museum, with lot of historical information about the region, and the Children’s Discovery Museum, an old style (compared to the European standard) science center.
The last visit was at the Matryoshka Doll Square, where an unbelievable number of Russian Dolls of every imaginable size are on display.
I have to thank the Inner Mongolia Association for Science and Technology and especially Ms. Teng and Mr. Sun for the wonderful hospitality and the nice opportunity to meet so many interesting colleagues from China, Russia and Mongolia. I hope to have the opportunity to work with them again.
Science Made Simple in Shangai Science Festival by David Price
It was such an honor to be chosen to represent EUSEA at the Fourth Shanghai International Popular Science Products Expo. And what an amazing science and innovation festival it was! But at the same time so sad not to be there with the wonderful Cissi Askwall who in the end could not make the journey to China.
So after a long flight and some much needed jet lag recuperation I found myself in Shanghai. In no time at all our very attentive host from the Expo Jerry organized some great sight seeing trips around Shanghai and we got to taste authentic Shanghai food in restaurants well off the main tourist track.
David and his two translators Peter and Shelly at Shanghai waterfront
The theme of the Expo was technological innovations being developed and marketed by start up businesses in China, in effect Shanghai is massively investing in its own version of silicon valley! From super green composting devices to the highest of high tech flight simulators, there was a huge array of tech that visitors could find out about and engage with.
Expo venue (wow!)
I was very happy to represent the PERFORM project in 2 sessions at the Expo, with its EU funded research into the use of performing arts techniques in highly participatory science communication, working with pupils, teachers and early career researchers.
Our first session on the main festival stage (and on national TV and radio!), was a discussion around innovative methods of communicating science, in which I was able to talk about and demonstrate some highly participatory science learning strategies from PERFORM, where everyday items can be used to highlight science in peoples lives and hearts.
In our 2nd session on a smaller stage, Julie Nadel from the New York Academy of Science and myself were asked to speak on a theme of STEAM. This let me really let my hair down (so to speak!) and run through as many highly participative demonstrations as I could that we have used in PERFORM to engage and tantalize young minds in science.
Volunteers and balloons from our first session at the Expo
Expo visitors and Chinese science communicators were fascinated by the linking of science communication and the performing arts, that is championed in Perform. It was a delight to discover the very real fascination that exists in China for western models of science engagement that encourage a greater use of the imagination and self-expression.
A very special thank you to Jerry who was a brilliant guide and host at the Expo. On the evening before my flight home, Jerry unexpectedly collected me from my hotel early and took me out to dinner with his family to their favourite local restaurant
Thank you so much to Eusea and the Expo for giving me the chance to attend such a wonderful event.