2020 – A time where online engagement has never been more important

Here we showcase diverse programmes from four of the partners within the project on how they are connecting and engaging with their audiences online.

Covid-19 programmes

Engaging with your audiences through various mediums online is an integral part of any organisations programme. With approximately 4.5 billion users on the internet today, having an online presence allows you to produce an instantaneous bridge to distant communities that otherwise may never get the opportunity to physically experience what you provide. However, now more than ever, there is a need for organisations and in particular cultural entities to diversify and mould to the new environment COVID-19 has formed. In particular, all institutions are now being pushed to engage with their audiences primarily and only through digital means. And this is no different for SySTEM 2020 and the partners within it.

Over the past few months, partners from SySTEM 2020 have been structuring, honing and finessing their online engagement strategy. Here we showcase some particular highlights and diverse programmes from four of the partners within the project – Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia Leonardo da Vinci (MUST) in Italy, Ars Electronica in Austria, Kersnikova in Slovenia, and Science Gallery Dublin in Ireland. 

MUST – Stories behind closed doors

The world is steeped in stories. Stories that are often not harnessed to their full capacity. We all gravitate towards stories due to their ability to connect and captivate us.  Stories with interesting settings and most importantly, interesting people. In this time of reduced social contact, MUST – the largest science and technology museum in Italy – has taken this opportunity to not lose their connection with their audience but to strengthen it by telling “stories behind closed doors”. 

Through the power of narrative MUST are delivering stories from within the museum. Using a mix of sensory tools they are introducing you to their curators, to their educational developers and to specific science topics. From using images to take you on a journey to discover Leonardo da Vinci’s dream of flight through his studies of birds to using VR to peer into the most famous wreck in the world – the Titanic. This not only allows people to consume information but also to experience it, building a stronger connection between user and provider.

Science Gallery Dublin – Closed but not shut up shop

Since lockdown began in Ireland, Science Gallery Dublin has been producing daily content to continue igniting creativity and discovery amongst their audience. By providing a rich set of resources on their “stay connected, while we are closed” page, Science Gallery Dublin are sending a clear message that their doors may be closed for now, but that does not mean they have shut up shop.

So far, they have added a total of 12 diverse entries, all of which accommodate for a vast array of needs and interests – podcasts on paper folding, live events on hope and creativity and keeping you curious with tinkering challenges. One of our favourite entries to date has been the “How to Make a Zine” – not just because they were born from our project, SySTEM 2020 – but because of their unique ability to encourage you to “tell a story, share some information or even just have a rant”. Science Gallery Dublin are now using zines to get feedback on what young people think of their workshops and programmes, but they can also be seen as an activity in itself. 

Ars Electronica – Home delivery  

If you cannot come to the Museum of the Future, the museum will come to you.” – Ars Electronica

On May 1, Ars Electronica kicked off their “Home Delivery” programme. A two-week live interactive opportunity to transport yourself into the centre of Ars Electronica to experience guided tours of their exhibitions, excursions to their labs, concerts, deep space sessions, workshops with engineers and talks with artists and scientists from all over the world. They will be sharing a mix of live sessions today and all through the week on their channels online – in particular on their Facebook page. Until the next session begins, meet Gerfried Stocker, who delves into what Home Delivery will entail and some of the challenges seen in building a programme like this.  

 Kersnikova Institute – Experiments with creators

Over the past 20 years, Kersnikova Institute has been pushing the boundaries between society, science, technology and the arts – in particular, they focus on developing programmes and projects for young learners (creators, as they call them) to encourage them to express their creative energy. As you will see this focus of theirs has continued and expanded to the forefront of their online agenda, bringing Kersnikova to your doorstep. 

Since March, Kersnikova has been posting mini design-based challenges to get you creating and building at home. From challenging you to cultivate your own garden in any space – big or small – to giving you guidance on how one can design and make their own washable protective mask. These challenges are designed in such a way that equipment, locality and space does not prevent you from getting involved, putting particular emphasis on the fact that you don’t need specialised equipment or a specialised space to let your creativity blossom.  

 A Shift  

There has been a shift in the landscape. A shift that has been uncertain for some. However, with uncertainty comes innovation and uplifting stories. From Fab Labs teaming up with 3D printing experts to produce more medical masks to design spaces from around the world finding ways to keep you tinkering and making at home. Science centres, museums and other non-formal learning spaces are having to adapt and innovate to continue their mission in engaging with and inspiring the next generations to come. So, what can be taken from all of this? Mainly that cultural entities are ready for whatever the road ahead throws at them. Get involved with some of the programmes described above and show them your support. You can also access a growing COVID-19 resources kit made by Ecsite – the European Network of Science and Musumes. Over the next few weeks, we will be updating you on more programmes likes the ones described here across our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts. Stay tuned and of course, stay safe. 

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