Children’s imaginaries usually reflect and take to extremes what adults think and say.When it comes to the world of science, these imaginaries are often distorted. Atthe same time, pre-school and primary school teachers have difficulties in talking totheir children about science. The awareness of this lead, in 2005, to the foundationof L’ideatorio, a small science center that was created in the Italian Switzerland withthe collaboration of the Istituto Scolastico of Lugano. L’ideatorio was created with theaim to help children discover science in an enjoyable and involving way, to re-attunetheir imaginaries and to offer teachers an opportunity to experience science-relatedpaths and activities with their classes. Some studies on the perception of science,carried out with our visiting teachers and pupils, encouraged us to widen our rangeof initiatives. If the goal was to rebuild the child’s imaginary, and if this imaginaryis shaped through interaction with adults, experiences with friends, school, familyand mass media, then it appeared necessary to promote activities on a variety ofdirections. For this reason, after the initial experiences with children, L’ideatorioenriched its range of proposals, with the aim to foster a critical but more realisticperception of the world of science on different kinds of audiences. In particular, itwas decided to involve citizens through festivals, exhibitions, participative projectsand scientific holidays, while collaborating with the mass media, which have alwaysgiven a powerful contribution to the building of imaginaries. For a few years,L’ideatorio has been collaborating with the Radio televisione Svizzera Italiana (RSI) inthe creation of programs about science. Networking and collaboration with cantonaland national realities has given a great contribution, and so did the collaborationof a team of science communicators belonging to different scientific fields: frombiology to philosophy, from sociology to economy and computer science. Nowadays,the project had widened further and has become part of the University of Lugano(USI), representing an important link between society and the scientific world. At thesame time it maintains its peculiarities: the strong relation to school and a particularattention to children.

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Mad scientists?
l’ideatorio
A space for new imaginaries

Fabio Meliciani   University of Lugano

Michela Carli   University of Lugano

Giovanni Pellegri   University of Lugano

Children’s imaginaries usually reflect and take to extremes what adults think and say.When it comes to the world of science, these imaginaries are often distorted. Atthe same time, pre-school and primary school teachers have difficulties in talking totheir children about science. The awareness of this lead, in 2005, to the foundationof L’ideatorio, a small science center that was created in the Italian Switzerland withthe collaboration of the Istituto Scolastico of Lugano. L’ideatorio was created with theaim to help children discover science in an enjoyable and involving way, to re-attunetheir imaginaries and to offer teachers an opportunity to experience science-relatedpaths and activities with their classes. Some studies on the perception of science,carried out with our visiting teachers and pupils, encouraged us to widen our rangeof initiatives. If the goal was to rebuild the child’s imaginary, and if this imaginaryis shaped through interaction with adults, experiences with friends, school, familyand mass media, then it appeared necessary to promote activities on a variety ofdirections. For this reason, after the initial experiences with children, L’ideatorioenriched its range of proposals, with the aim to foster a critical but more realisticperception of the world of science on different kinds of audiences. In particular, itwas decided to involve citizens through festivals, exhibitions, participative projectsand scientific holidays, while collaborating with the mass media, which have alwaysgiven a powerful contribution to the building of imaginaries. For a few years,L’ideatorio has been collaborating with the Radio televisione Svizzera Italiana (RSI) inthe creation of programs about science. Networking and collaboration with cantonaland national realities has given a great contribution, and so did the collaborationof a team of science communicators belonging to different scientific fields: frombiology to philosophy, from sociology to economy and computer science. Nowadays,the project had widened further and has become part of the University of Lugano(USI), representing an important link between society and the scientific world. At thesame time it maintains its peculiarities: the strong relation to school and a particularattention to children.

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