Communicating communicationOn 14 and 15 November, the 2 000 participants at the Communicating European Research (CER) conference were treated to a multifaceted communication experience. In addition to some 50 shows, presentations and debates with over 150 speakers, there was an exhibition with around 250 stands to explore. The photographs presented here give just a snapshot of this multiple communication event organised by the Research DG. For a more comprehensive view, check out the CER website where you will find the detailed programme of activities, a list of participants, the three issues of the conference journal The EXCERPT and, very soon, in-depth reports on the presentations. So, stay tuned [ http://ec.europa.eu/research/conferences/2005/cer2005/index_en.html ] …
The science village
The press at the forefrontAs a key actor in communicating science, the press was very much in evidence at CER 2005. More than 200 journalists were present, representing all the media. They were there to cover the event, attend the special media and journalism workshops and, in many cases, to contribute to the debates and presentations.
The comic strip, reflecting and stimulating scientific thought
In addition to these varied debates, many sessions and/or training workshops presented by communication professionals attracted a large audience of attentive researchers seeking to soak up some of the dialogue skills that continue to be neglected in their study programmes.
Warsaw-Vienna – children’s universitiesIn Poland, the adventure began in 2001 when about 30 students from the Warsaw University of Technology decided to get out of the city and spend a couple of weeks in three villages deep in the Polish countryside. Their aim was to show children living in these remote locations that higher education was not an inaccessible dream. The project was entitled Zielona Green Action and offered the children holiday courses in a range of subjects – maths, science, history, literature, languages – which were designed to supplement their school curriculum and developed in co-operation with their teachers. The students themselves were warmly welcomed by the local community and lodged with the villagers.
During the summer of 2003, a similar project started up in Vienna, known as KinderuniWien. In this case, the children, aged between 7 and 12, attended the university where they were welcomed by some 20 professors. “The main idea was to satisfy the curiosity of the children and of the scientists. In a sense, they share the same nature of always asking questions and looking for answers. The children’s university is an enriching experience for the children, who come away with new questions, new ideas and new ways of finding answers,” explains Karoline Iber, the concept initiator and Project Manager. "But it is a rewarding experience for the scientists too, as they are faced with the challenge of explaining their work in terms that can be easily understood. Last summer, more than 300 professors and scientists gave courses and workshops. They adopted a range of approaches and succeeded in introducing an atmosphere of fun while working on subjects that can appear very difficult.”
A programme of cross-border exchanges has also been launched, with 25 Slovakian children attending Vienna University and 25 Austrians going to Bratislava University. Another scheme has been set up in co-operation with the organisers of the Zielona Green Action which has expanded considerably in the past few years. Some 300 students from 20 Polish universities and other higher education establishments now participate in this, together with 1 500 schoolchildren from villages throughout Poland’s diverse regions. There is also a transfer of knowledge and good practices with the KinderuniWien project, in particular with a view to preparing the educational content available on the websites.
Michael: the European Cultural Area is just a click away
Michael draws on the technologies and experience of the French catalogue of digital cultural collections as well as the prototype of the Franco-Italian portal of digital collections (WML technologies). One of its aims is to encourage interoperability and the use of common standards in the principal national initiatives for access to collections.
Initially accessible in three languages, Michael will expand its language versions as new participants join, and will ultimately become a genuinely polyglot site. An advanced search engine will make it possible to retrieve information on dispersed collections, the work of a single artist, or documents from a single period from various European museums or libraries. The project initiators believe these applications will be of use not only to researchers and teachers but also to the development of new services, in the field of education and tourism for example.
The Knowledge Bank
Although regional-based, the Knowledge Bank also seeks to be “a tool in the service of the scientific community and the general public, without geographical restriction”, and its organisers say they are “ready for exchange and co-operation with those running similar initiatives within the EU”.
Spreading the joy of maths
As a means of learning to see and understand, Albrecht Beutespacher likes to take the example of a football. It looks perfectly round, but in fact is made up of different polygons – hexagons and pentagons – put together in a particular way. At the top of each football, three elements join. Which to choose? Three hexagons would produce a shape that is too flat,. A hexagon and two pentagons? That would be too pointed. The solution is to take two hexagons and a pentagon, providing the most spherical possible structure. Each summit must be the same for the construction to be homogenous and the two pentagons never touch. Apparently, this is also the structure of the famous fullerene molecule for which Harold Kroto and Rick Smalley won the Nobel Prize for chemistry.
The United Kingdom of Museums
The Show Me section is designed especially for children, their teachers and parents. The home page presents a series of boxes with a picture, brief description of content and the magical words ‘Show me’. A simple click then reveals all about dinosaurs, the Romans, the Vikings, butterflies, the Victorian Age, design, science, technology or whatever else may have caught your eye. There are teaching packs to help teachers prepare a visit or subject presentation. Parents can also discover some interesting ideas for books, gifts and ‘intelligent’ games. For the very smallest there are interactive games, puzzles and a competition.
Angels and Demons at CERN
What do you think Venus looks like when seen from above, as ESA’s Venus Express probe will view it? Opposite, is an artist’s impression – but no more than an individual’s view and many more could be imagined. The drawing competition is open to young people (maximum age 17) and adults (over 18). The only limit on the imagination is the format, which must be postcard size (10 x 15 cm). The closing date for entries is 14 January 2006. Entries can be sent by post or e-mail. Find out more [ http://planetary.org/postcards_from_venus/ ] about Venus and stimulate your imagination.
A number of prizes will be awarded in the two categories, including a visit to ESA mission control in Darmstadt (DE) in April 2006.