200,000 visitors at L'ideatorio - USI


Institutional Communication Service

8 May 2023

L'ideatorio, the Università della Svizzera italiana's service for promoting scientific culture, welcomed its 200,000th visitor in April. This result attests to the importance and attractiveness of L'ideatorio's educational and cultural proposals. The activities resulting from the synergy between USI, the School Institute of the City of Lugano and Science et Cité, have now become an important part of the Swiss science education scene, so much so that L'ideatorio has been recognised as one of the four most important centres for the promotion of MINT subjects (mathematics, informatics, natural sciences and technology) at the national level.

Established in Lugano in 2005 at the invitation of the Science et Cité Foundation, L'ideatorio was immediately welcomed with interest by the School Institute of the City of Lugano and later by Università della Svizzera italiana, where it became an active service in the dialogue between science and society. Since then, L'ideatorio has grown more and more, proposing numerous initiatives centred on the dialogue between the progress of science and citizens, showing not only the wonders arising from knowledge but also the critical situations that need to be identified and debated. Browsing through L'ideatorio's memory book, we find science cafés, thematic conferences (with two Nobel Prize winners among the speakers), science camps, some twenty interactive exhibitions, three major science festivals, dozens of learning workshops, hands-on projects, planetarium shows, evening debates, but above all 5,500 school classes welcomed as part of numerous educational programmes. This means that L'ideatorio's science mediators have welcomed as many as 100,000 students. This important role in science mediation has meant that L'ideatorio has, over time, become, together with Technorama, the Museum of Transport in Lucerne and L'espace des Inventions in Lausanne, one of the four most important MINT centres in Switzerland, i.e. a successful venue recognised by national programmes for promoting science to young people.

The philosophy of L'ideatorio has always been to create a place where knowledge is defragmented, multidisciplinary and disconnected from the simple transfer of scientific notions, seeking to develop proposals complementary to school. The challenge of L'ideatorio - and still alive as current events (vaccines, climate change, nuclear power, etc.) show - is to understand the mechanisms that arise in society when a complex issue related to the scientific or technological world clashes with ideas, cultures and imaginary worlds within each of us. Over the years, it has become apparent that all efforts aimed at simple scientific literacy have not achieved the desired result. In other words, conscious scientific citizenship is not just a question of notions. Still, it requires a different approach, made up of experiences and encounters, with perceptions imbued with knowledge but also with emotions. Citizens should not be expected to become experts in DNA analysis techniques or nuclear reactors, but dialogue and trust must be increased. L'ideatorio has placed itself in this context, without wishing to convince citizens of the goodness of science, but by offering a place where everyone can discuss issues and develop their thoughts. The philosophy behind L'ideatorio's proposals is to provide opportunities for encounters with science and technology, showing how this knowledge, in parallel with humanistic knowledge, is one more tool for gaining a better grasp of ourselves and the world around us, putting the human being and not the specific notion at the centre. The approach allows teachers, pupils and visitors to address specific topics transversally, with a playful and multidisciplinary approach, and offer a critical and responsible look at scientific progress, perhaps even allowing some girls to fantasise about being an astronaut, engineer or particle physicist.


L'ideatorio today: science, technology and sustainability

L'ideatorio works within a network of cantonal and national collaborations. Fundamental to its development has been the Science et Cité Foundation - a competence centre of the Swiss Academy of Sciences in Bern - which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. Another focal point was the collaboration with the Lugano City School Institute (Istituto scolastico della Città di Lugano), with which it developed various projects for young people and made it possible to set up a permanent home for L'ideatorio at the former Municipality of Cadro. Finally, the inclusion of L'ideatorio at USI has enabled it to become that natural bridge between science and society, in close contact with research centres on the one hand and with citizens and schoolchildren on the other. Recent projects include collaborations with the IRB, IRSOL and other USI institutes. Without excessive spectacularisation or sensationalism, L'ideatorio invites us to reflect on the role of science in our society and lives.

L'ideatorio in Cadro is open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays from 2 to 6 pm, while it welcomes schools and groups during the week. It currently offers an astronomical planetarium with four shows, the interactive exhibition 'Diamo i numeri!' and a series of other workshops and activities. At the same time, L'ideatorio is active in the local area, where it organises events such as conferences and participatory projects. The next major challenge: L'ideatorio is designing the contents of the House of Sustainability in Airolo, a new centre at USI that will be used to reflect on sustainable development. This centre will open its doors to students and the general public in 2024.


More information:

Dr Giovanni Pellegri - Università della Svizzera italiana Head of L’ideatorio and House of Sustainibility
Science et Cité Foundation Regional Coordinator
Tel. +41 58 666 45 20 / +41 79 405 10 29 / [email protected]


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