ESA's Directorate of Human Spaceflight is looking to establish collaborations with European science centres and museums. Through participation in Ecsite 2009 – the annual conference of the European Network of Science Centres and Museums – a team from the Directorate recently made the first steps towards achieving this objective.
Held at the National Museum of Science and Technology Leonardo Da Vinci, in Milan, Italy, 4-6 June, the Ecsite annual conference gathers together science communication professionals from across Europe and the world.
Some 1000 professionals from science museums and scientific institutions congregated in Milan for three days of sessions, workshops and discussions. The conference was opened by Italian and European authorities. Former ESA astronaut Claudie Haigneré was also present at the conference in her role as President of the French Cité des sciences et de l’Industrie.
ESA's Directorate of Human Spaceflight Education Team participated in Ecsite 2009 with a stand at the Business Bistro, an area of the conference that brings together new projects, exhibitions, techniques, products and services available to Ecsite institutions and provides a platform to present new ideas and to discuss future collaborations.
To help understand the needs of Ecsite 2009 participants, the numerous visitors to the stand were asked to express a preference between five types of collaboration, including exhibitions, contacts with the ISS and events, long terms education projects, distribution of education material and partnership for European projects.
Through these forms of collaboration with science centres and museums the Education Team hopes to benefit from their local connections with schools, media and science communicator professionals. The science centres and museums can also act as distributors of ESA's human spaceflight material, as multipliers of collaborative initiatives and provide an insight into the new trends in science education and communication.
In turn, European science centres and museums will benefit from collaboration with an international agency that is at the forefront of science and technology, an asset which is highly valuable for museums. ESA's Directorate of Human Spaceflight can offer unique educational and communication opportunities (e.g. radio contacts with the International Space Station, lectures with astronauts and ESA experts), expertise and knowledge in space sciences and the use of space related topics for educational purposes.
With dozens of contact details exchanged and initial contact made with both museums and companies that produce educational and promotional material, participation in Ecsite 2009 proved fruitful for the Education Team in making the first steps towards establishing collaborations with European science centres and museums.