PCST Network

Public Communication of Science and Technology


The Opinion Lab; prototyping science exhibits for next generation science communication

Marjoleine Georgette van der Meij  

In the near future more dialogues between science and society are likely to take place. Therefore our next generation citizens need to feel equipped to engage in (amongst others) processes of deliberation on science and technology. Science learning spaces like science centers can take a role in preparing youngsters for this 'techno-scientifically deliberative citizenship'. But what should the new informal science learning environments in the 'dialogue era' then look like? How to support young people in thinking and talking about technology, science, society, ethics and other complex topics in a profound yet low- or no-threshold manner? In this session we present an original paper (submitted by spring 2016) about the Opinion Lab (OL). The OL is an exhibit prototype that supports parents and their children aged 8 to 12 in forming and opinion about synthetic biology, by means of several carefully designed playful tools such as a puzzle, audio, and visualizations. In the design we applied principles of frame reflection as well as opinions of synthetic biology that were found earlier in Dutch citizen dialogues on synthetic biology. The paper to be presented in this session, is aimed at studying how the playful tools embedded in the informal science learning environment OL support parents and children in deliberation on synthetic biology, in order to inspire science learning environments of the future. In the session we therefore elaborate on the design principles of the OL as well as on findings of our prototype test sessions that were done at Nemo (Amsterdam) in 2015; we end with recommendations for other informal learning environment designers and learning facilitators on how to develop playful tools that prepare youngsters for deliberation and dialogues between science and society.

A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.