On 29-30 March the findings of Inside the Big Black Box- a Europe-wide science and society project - will be revealed during a two-day seminar hosted by CERN1. The principle aim of Inside the Big Black Box (IN3B) is to determine whether a working scientific laboratory can capture the curiosity of the general public through visits.
IN3B was sponsored by the European Union to evaluate how effectively five laboratories - CERN in Switzerland, LNGS2 in Italy, Demokritos in Greece and DESY3 and Forschungszentrum in Jülich4 in Germany - reach across the divide between science and society. In total over 4000 members of the public, of all ages, were interviewed during visits to the five research centres.
The information that IN3B has gathered through questionnaires, in-depth interviews and ethnographic observations, has generated a precise description of the range of impressions, ideas and perceptions that visitors collect while visiting a scientific laboratory. IN3B found a rational, informed population of visitors who have an enthusiasm for science.
A series of organisational recommendations and proposals to improve the laboratory visit experience completes the study. If implemented, these suggestions should enhance both the quality and quantity of information accessible to the visitor.
Monica De Pasquale | CERN
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