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Education through fascination: looking for ways to promote geoscience

The course of recent debates on global warming, biodiversity crises, pandemics and anti-pandemic measures, racism, or military conflicts demonstrates how quickly societies become emotionally driven and unsusceptible to evidence. Changes in the use of media indicate impatience of the users, limiting the attention span that would be needed to comprehend complex causalities. Are we witnessing the decline of classic natural sciences, whose approach is genuinely explorative and requires collecting facts prior to arranging them in models?

Earth sciences gather knowledge on the development of geo- and biosphere through time, exemplified in collection objects such as minerals, rock samples and fossils. Visitors are attracted by the beauty, age, authenticity of the specimens or the complexity of processes that led to their formation. Most frequently, however, museum exhibitions present original specimens alongside their interpretation, while the process of research remains underrepresented. This hampers a general broad understanding of science among non-specialists.

Museums and collections can help promoting geosciences for a broader audience by combining methodological insight with the fascination of the object. Apart from the traditional ways of communicating science via popular talks and publications, new formats like science slams, cross-over exhibitions and especially digital tools that can be integrated in exhibitions are designed to facilitate access to research methods and principles.

Reliable visitor analytics is needed to evaluate the success of science communication in limited model projects. Determining best practices and sharing them within the geoscientific community should contribute to arousing awareness and understanding for Earth sciences in the society.


Ilja Kogan1
1Museum für Naturkunde Chemnitz, Germany;TU Bergakademie Freiberg, Germany
GeoMinKöln 2022