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[redpop] North Africa and Middle East Science centers network (NAMES)

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Boletín   marzo 2008

Noticias de otra red regional de centros de ciencia.

North Africa and Middle East Science centers network (NAMES)
Towards a better future!

There is a worldwide consensus that a sustainable culture of innovation will depend on more young people being interested in the future of science and technology. This interest must be nurtured and developed at a very early age through formal education in schools as well as informal education exemplified in science centers, children's museums and science parks.

Science Centers and Museums are facilities dedicated to furthering the public awareness and understanding of science among increasingly diverse audiences; they encourage creativity and spark interest about the world around us.

For a science center to really achieve its goal of the democratization of science, it is obliged to follow the dynamic and ever-changing pace of science and technology. The most effective way to do so is through opening up to the fast developing world and cooperating with similar establishments regionally and internationally. It is for this reason that science centers networks were established all around the world; networks such as: ASTC, ECSITE, REDPOP, ASPAC, SAASTEC, NCSM, and China.

The World Congress of Science Centers (WCSC) takes place every three years and gathers representatives of science centers from around the world to share their achievements, highlight the problems they are facing, suggest solutions and create new policies and visions for science centers. The next World Congress of Science Centers, the theme of which is Science Centers as Agents of Change-locally, nationally and internationally, is the fifth and is to be hosted by the Ontario Science Center in Toronto, Canada, in June 2008.

In 2005, The Bibliotheca Alexandrina Planetarium Science Center (PSC) was selected by the International Program Committee (IPC) of the World Congress of Science Centers to become a member representing North Africa and the Middle East. The role of the IPC is to direct the development of the program for each World Congress and to advise the host institution on all related matters.

For the PSC to really have an active role in the IPC, it took the initiative towards creating a network that incorporates all science centers and museums in North Africa and the Middle East region.

The target of NAMES is to provide professional development for the science center field in the North Africa and Middle East region. NAMES aims to promote best practices, to support effective communication and to strengthen the position of science centers within the community at large. NAMES aspires to encourage excellence and innovation in informal science learning by serving and linking its members in the Middle East and North Africa Region and advancing their common goals.

On 30 January 2006, the BA organized a one-day closed meeting to lay the foundation for the new network. The meeting included representatives from:

o The BA Planetarium Science Center
o Suzanne Mubarak Science Exploration Center
o Prince Salman Science Oasis (Saudi Arabia)
o The Scientific Center of Kuwait
o Tunis Science City
o Turkey Science Centers Foundation
o Sharjah Science Museum (United Arab Emirates)
o Deutsches Museum, guest
o Italian National Institute for Nuclear Physics, guest
After the deliberations that continued following the meeting of 30 January 2006, the decision was made to launch the NAMES network with four founding members:
o The Planetarium Science Center, Egypt
o Turkey Science Centers Foundation
o The Scientific Center of Kuwait
o Tunis Science City
The four founding members met in Tunis on 9 November 2006, and signed the Memorandum of Understanding, thus, officially launching the network.  A fifth member, Sultan Bin AbdulAziz Science & Technology Center (SciTech), joined the Network during the same meeting. Now the Network has seven full members, including Dubai Children City and Sharjah Science Museum. The Network has one sustaining member, Fondation Sigma from Morocco. The members are anticipating, through their relentless efforts, to at least double the number of Full Members by the end of the year 2008.

The purpose of creating NAMES is to foster cooperation between member science centers and museums in North Africa and the Middle East with the aim of benefiting from all available resources and experiences within the region to further enhance the role of all member establishments. The network also aims to help establish new science centers and museums in all countries of the region.

The goal of NAMES is the popularization of science throughout the region by enhancing the public understanding and involvement in science and scientific culture among an increasingly diverse audience. The purpose of NAMES is to be achieved through excellence and innovation in informal education and by offering hands-on activities where the audience can indulge in participatory learning.

The members of NAMES all offer their respective audiences a large diversity of activities that revolve around the idea of creative science communication. Members of the Network feature on their premises areas dedicated to hands-on exhibitions and exhibits. Most members also host a planetarium and/or an IMAX theater. Furthermore, the Scientific Center of Kuwait features an aquarium, and Sultan Bin AbdulAziz Science and Technology Center (SciTech) features an observatory.

Many of the members' activities focus primarily on astronomy, followed by physics, then biology, and finally chemistry and geology. Among these activities are planetarium and IMAX shows, workshops, observations, camps, lectures, seminars, conferences, in addition to a variety of programs and festivities.

One of the main collaborations among the members of NAMES would be the sharing of planetarium shows Arabic narration; the Bibliotheca Alexandrina Planetarium Science Center (PSC) being a pioneer in the field. The PSC has also recently become a pioneer in the filed of planetarium show production in the Middle East upon the completion of the first project of its kind in the region, the Sky of Alexandria video panorama show, in collaboration with the Arab Academy for Science and Technology (AAST). Consequently, the members will be embarking on future production projects that aim to highlight the region's culture and contributions to science throughout history.

Following in the footsteps of leading international institutions and networks, the members of NAMES are currently working on joining their resources to create a series of traveling exhibitions to share among themselves, and also to exchange with international institutions. The exhibitions will not only aim to communicate science within the NAMES region but also to communicate the region's culture, heritage and achievements to the rest of the world. This project will reinforce the Network's goal of sharing and exchanging.

The members of NAMES are also currently planning the first General Assembly Meeting tentatively scheduled on 2-3 November 2008. The theme of the conference is The Role of Science Centers in Establishing Knowledge-Based Societies in the Region. One of the keynote speakers will be Dr. Ismail Serageldin, Director of Bibliotheca Alexandrina; he will be delivering a talk about Islamic Civilization and Science. Sub-themes that will be tackled in parallel sessions and workshops will be Networking and Advocacy and Effective Non-Traditional Methods of Science Communication.

Finally, the members will be collaborating in the production of common printed, as well as digital publications, to promote the network as well as help disseminate its mission and communicate science to the region's public. The Network's tentative website is located at:

La RED POP, es  una red interactiva que surge de la convocatoria realizada por UNESCO en 1990  y reúne a centros, museos y programas de popularización y divulgación de a  ciencia y la tecnología en América Latina y el Caribe. Funciona  mediantes mecanismos regionales de cooperación que favorecen el intercambio, entrenamietno y aprovechamiento de recursos entre sus miembros. 

CIENTEC es miembro fundador y actualmente  ocupa la Dirección Ejecutiva de la RED.

A Red-POP é uma rede interativa que surge de uma  convocação realizada pela UNESCO em 1990 e reúne centros, museus e programas de popularização e divulgação da ciência e tecnologia na América Latina e   Caribe. Funciona  mediante mecanismos regionais de cooperação que favorecem o intercâmbio, o treinamento e o aproveitamento de  recursos entre seus membros. 

O CIENTEC é membro fundador e atualmente ocupa a Direção Executiva da RED.

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