Making science accessible
Launched in 1998, at the heart of the Jardin d’Acclimatation in Paris, this scientific museum has a focus on educational methods. Each visitor can touch tools for scientific investigation, with facilitators there to explain the concepts behind them, depending on the age of the visitor. According to the association’s sponsorships and partnerships manager, Anaïs Morais, its original purpose was to “make scientific and technical culture accessible to as many people as possible, and promote social cohesion. That’s why we moved to Vitry-sur-Seine (Val-de-Marne, France) five years ago,” she adds. Thanks to a team of 34 people, this center now features around 60 scientific experiments in addition to educational workshops. The museum has 60,000 visitors per year with a high repeat visit rate. “Some people come every Wednesday,” observes Anaïs Morais. Conscious of the public’s needs, the association has developed new modules, including the Exploraclubs.
What are the Exploraclubs?
The Exploraclubs project consists in organizing free activity clubs in the museum itself after school. Once a week, young people aged 8 to 14 meet up in small groups to work on a subject with scientific content and practical exercises; teaching methods that are suited to an occasionally difficult young audience. The majority of children there come from underprivileged neighborhoods in Vitry, but some come from further afield: “Workshops organized by scientific professionals are few and far between and parents are receptive to this. This creates a mix of children with different social backgrounds.” The support from the Air Liquide Foundation made it possible to buy the equipment needed for the workshops, in particular a 3D printer and computers.
Exploradôme and Air Liquide: Science in common
The Exploraclubs give these children an opportunity to ask questions outside of the school environment, which can sometimes be seen as restrictive. They involve children in a long-term investigative project, improving their self-confidence through teamwork and – who knows – maybe even inspiring a future career, whatever the child’s cultural background. “We want to show children that science is useful and make them wonderful, to modernize their image: science should not be the sole preserve of kids at top of the class,” insists the sponsorship manager. “We have a strong partnership with Air Liquide’s site in Vitry: our sponsor, Annie Breton, visited Exploradôme and took part in a Robotics Club session, where she presented Air Liquide to the children. Exploradôme is also involved in the “teachers in companies” project: a visit to Air Liquide’s site in Vitry was also organized for secondary school teachers. Moreover, the director of Air Liquide’s site in Vitry, Xavier Traversac, has planned to visit the center with his team for an initiation to scientific mediation.”
To find out more
Exploradome Association’s Website: www.exploradome.fr