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First ever World Science Centre Day

9th November 2016

Recycling water on the International Space Station, cures for Malaria and a global cloud experiment to help climate scientists, are just some of the projects that will celebrate the first ever World Science Centre Day on 10 November.  World Science Centre Dayhas been organised by the Association of Science and Technology Centres (ASTC*), the body that gives a collective voice to over 650 science centres from 55 countries and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO*).   

This global first will be formally launched at a day-long symposium at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, when representatives from UNESCO and ASTC sign a strategic agreement. Building on UNESCO’s theme of “Science for Peace and Development,” the partnership aims to create new ways for the science communication community to address global issues such as poverty, inequality and climate change.  

The ceremony coincides with a world-wide celebration involving over 300 science centres from Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East and North and South America*. As well as a global experiment on cloud observation* activities include an exploration of ways to recycle water on board the International Space Station (Technorama, Winterthur, Switzerland); workshops to develop a computer model to explore malaria control (International Centre for Life, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom) and science talks and events about health and hygiene at the District Science Centre in Tirunelveli, Tamilnadu, India.

The Paris event will bring together leaders in the field of science engagement to discuss best practice and to make recommendations for addressing current challenges, such as changing audience demographics.  Outcomes from the day’s events and discussions will be presented at the Science Centre World Summit 2017 in Tokyo.

Linda Conlon*, chair of ASTC  and chief executive of the International Centre for Life in Newcastle, UK, will give an opening address at the symposium and will sign the official agreement on behalf of ASTC.  She says: “This is an incredibly exciting opportunity for the world’s science centres to demonstrate the key role that they play in expanding public engagement in support of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  We hope to develop new and innovative ways of communicating the SDGs to not only existing visitors but also to new and increasingly diverse audiences.   We believe that this initiative will become a long term and fruitful partnership with the potential to reach many hundreds of millions of people worldwide.”

Lidia Brito, Director of the UNESCO Regional Offices for Sciences in Latin America and the Caribbean says: "We look increasingly to science centres to be institutions of education and innovation as well as to serve as 'wonder places' where people can meet, share knowledge, and transform the way they look at the world".

Professor Peter Higgs was awarded the Nobel Prize for physics in 2013 for discovering the ‘Higgs’ particle which gives mass to the most basic particles of matter.  A native of Newcastle and recently back in the City to share his experience w ith local students, Professor Higgs says: “This partnership is hugely significant. It highlights the role of science centres which goes way beyond providing information on scientific issues. Science centres foster creativity, increase scientific literacy and inspire future scientists. Engaging and empowering people through science is crucial if we are to meet UNESCO’s Sustainable Development Goals.”


*Linda Conlon MBE and ASTC

Linda Conlon has been involved with the International Centre for Life since its inception in 1999 and was appointed Chief Executive in 2007. Under her leadership, ICFL has won international recognition for its work. In 2015 Linda Conlon was appointed Chair of ASTC. She is the first European woman to be appointed Chair of ASTC (based in Washington, D.C.) in its 50 year history.  In 2016, she was awarded an MBE for her services to Science and Science Education.

ASTC, based in Washington, D.C, is the international organisation which gives a collective voice to over 650 world science centres from over 50 countries. It works internationally to increase awareness of the important role these organisations play in the public engagement and global communication of science development. www.astc.org.

UNESCO:  UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) works to create the conditions for dialogue among civilizations, cultures and peoples, based upon respect for commonly shared values. It is through this dialogue that the world can achieve global visions of sustainable development encompassing observance of human rights, mutual respect and the alleviation of poverty, all of which are at the heart of UNESCO’S mission and activities.  For more information visit: http://en.unesco.org/

Global experiment on clouds observation: Clouds are highly variable and predicting their future evolution is one of the main challenges facing climate scientists. Human observations of clouds around the world are valuable to compare to satellite remote sensing data.  Science Centres and Museums have asked their audiences to make observations of cloud coverage using the Globe Observer app prior to the ISCSMD during the first two weeks of October.    ASTC partners at GLOBE and NASA will use the collected images to make a rendering of the data in a layered animation of world cloud coverage.   


Examples of activities happening around the world

Throughout the day on 10 November, hundreds of thousands of people around the world will visit science centres and museums, where they will find engaging discovery opportunities, including these sample activities:

  • Science shows and experiments at Hefei Science and Technology Museum in Hefei, Anhui, China
  • Science talks and events about health and hygiene at the District Science Centre in Tirunelveli, Tamilnadu, India
  • Talks on the Cape vulture and the African savanna elephant at the National Zoological Gardens in Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa
  • Sessions, demonstrations, exhibitors, and workshops focused on clean energy resources at the Alexandria Library’s Planetarium Science Centre in Alexandria, Egypt 
  • In Copenhagen, Denmark, the Experimentarium will re-open after three years of renovation, with a special focus on new exhibits and programs related to gender inclusion and diversity within science and technology  
  • An ecosystem ecologist will headline events at the Exploration Place in Prince George, British Columbia, Canada 
  • Design challenges, fiber arts activities, and more at the Museum of Life and Science in Durham, North Carolina, United States 
  • A conference of young people committed to the environment at the Museum of Natural Sciences in Buenos Aires  
  • A new exhibit about the UN Sustainable Development Goals themselves, highlighting their relevance to individuals’ daily lives, at Questacon—The National Science and Technology Centre in Canberra, ACT, Australia.

World Science Centre Day involves the following organisations: Association of Science-Technology Centres (ASTC),  Asia Pacific Network of Science & technology Centres (ASPAC),  European Network of Science Centres and Museums (ECSITE), North African and Middle East Science Centres Network (NAMES), National Council of Science Museums, India  (NCSM), Red De Popularización De La Ciencia Y La TecnologÍa En América Latina Y El Caribe (RedPop)  and Southern African Association of Science and Technology Centres (SAASTEC).


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