Science centres and museums from five different EU countries worked together with university research centres in nanosciences and nanotechnology in the NANOTOTOUCH project to create full-size, perfectly operational research lab in nanotechnologies inside the public space of the science centres and museums. Visitors in the science centres and museums were given an opportunity to learn about scientific discovery and what lies behind it directly from the main protagonist: the researcher. The project was funded under the FP7 NMP programme and ran from 2009 – 2011.
Open Nano Lab
The Open Nano Labs were fully functional nanoresearch laboratories situated in the public space of a science museum or science centre, with researchers from a local university partner conducting their work in full public view. Visitors could gain insight into the processes and methods of a modern laboratory by observing how doctorate and graduate students obtain data and images from their instruments, and how these are processed or discarded. Scientist engaged in dialogue with museum visitors, including school groups and youngsters. This kind of peer-to-peer exchange was meant to help form meaningful connections between science and everyday life, both for adult visitors and for youngsters – providing role models for the next generation of researchers.
Nano Researcher Live
Nano Researcher Live areas promoted live communication by scientists in science centres. Nano-researchers from local partner universities explained and discussed their current work in a public forum. Local coordinators in the partner science centre organised presentations on a regular basis, discussing in advance with the respective scientist which presentation aids and exhibits are required for supporting a successful dialogue with the attending visitors.
Training for Researchers
In order to equip the young scientists taking part in NANOTOTOUCH in regard to engaging the public, the project involved them in a communication skills training programme, providing participating researchers with the capability of guiding a dialogue concerning a complex issue; knowledge of the advantages of a museum or science centre compared to other media; knowledge about visitor structure and visitor needs and awareness of current debates concerning nanotechnologies.
Visit the NANOTOTOUCH website (external link, last accessed 28 March 2014).