UNESCO and the US-based Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC) signed an agreement on November 10 to “use science centers and science museums as platforms to communicate on the Sustainable Goals (SDGs) through the organization of ad hoc events on , and international”, during a meeting at UNESCO Headquarters, as part of the commemorations of the first International Day of Science Centers and Museums (IDSCM).

The agreement also aims to enhance informal science, technology and math (STEM) education with hands-on, interactive exhibits, inquiry-based science education programs that advance STEM learning. and innovative means.

According to Flavia Schlegel, Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences at UNESCO, during the closing session, science centers are the crucial piece of the puzzle for connecting children and their families to science.

We need to persuade policy makers to build and maintain more science centers around the world, which can also reach rural areas, for example through exhibitions and traveling activities.

Luisa Massarani, SciDev.Net

Speaking to Anthony F. (Bud) Rock, CEO of ASTC, he believes that this agreement will help strengthen science centers among UNESCO member countries. “In return, we will try to address the SDGs every year on the International Day of Science Centers and Museums,” he said.

As head of RedPOP, the Latin American sister of ASTC and professional of a practical science center in Brazil (Museum of Life), I myself welcome the initiative.

Scientific centers are multiplying throughout the world. In my own region there has been an increase in their establishment since the 1990s. due to budget constraints.

Most science centers are in big cities, and many countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as other parts of the developing world – especially in Africa – still have too few initiatives. We need to persuade policy makers to build and maintain more science centers around the world, which can also reach rural areas, for example through exhibitions and traveling activities.

Thanks to this international effort, about 300 scientific centers around the world have participated in the IDSCM. The agreement can only succeed if UNESCO engages significantly with other networks around the world in this initiative.

Luisa Massarani, SciDev.Net

Elizabeth Rasekoala, president of African Gong, the African Network for Science Communication, argued at the event that many science centers are Eurocentric. “We need to think about the context of the developing world and the needs of the developing world.”

Razekoala is right. There are good examples of science centers that have done good work engaging people in the developing world. But we need to do more. If we want to make a difference through science centers, we need to create strategies to make them even more relevant to the developing world. They should be a culturally accessible space for dialogue and public participation on scientific issues that impact people’s lives.

The plan is to make IDSCM an annual event. It was organized on the occasion of the World Day of Science for Peace and Development by UNESCO, ASTC (USA), the International Council of Museums (ICOM) and the regional networks RedPOP (Latin America), ASPAC (Asia-Pacific), Ecsite (Europe), SAASTEC (Southern Africa) and Names (North Africa and Middle East).

Thanks to this international effort, about 300 scientific centers around the world have participated in the IDSCM. The agreement can only succeed if UNESCO engages significantly with other networks around the world in this initiative.

This piece was produced by our Latin America and Caribbean edition.

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