PCST Network

Public Communication of Science and Technology


GAIA Project Centre
An experience report on science communication about the Biosphere Reserve of Espinhaço Mountains Range – Minas Gerais/Brazil


This article comes from a project entitled GAIA (Geosciences, Arts, Interdisciplinarity and Learning), which aims to popularize scientific knowledge regarding the Brazilian Espinhaço Mountains Range. In the middle of this huge mountains range, declared Biosphere Reserve by the UNESCO in 2005, it is located the historic city of Diamantina. In the XVII century, this city was the world's largest diamond producer. After two centuries of decadency, today it fights for a better future. The local population lost not only the economic power, but also the knowledge regarding the environment of the surrounding areas. Diamantina itself was declared Humanity's Patrimony by the UNESCO in 1999, and it is rich in artistic, historical, religious and cultural manifestations. However, local community, specially students from low income families, knows little about their rich environment and how it is directly related to the Espinhaço's biodiversity and landscape mosaic. In the GAIA Project exposition centre, a model in scale of the Southern Espinhaço region was built in order to teach practice lessons. The model represents an important resource for communication and has a strong didactic potential for integrated landscape analysis. It allows to understand the geographical space in a process of teaching and learning that uses the cartography as a method of space representation. Through literature research and field studies, it was possible to develop a non-formal educational practice as a playful complement to understand the geographic space in which students reside. More than a thousand students, ages from 8 to 18, already visited the centre and the challenge has been to establish parameters in order to evaluate the social impacts of the activities developed so far. The project involves researchers from two federal universities - UFVJM and UFMG - and is part of the work done by the Espinhaço's Integrated Research Group (GIPE).

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