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The knowledge adventure

More than 1,800 events mark the National Science and Technology Week

MIGUEL BOYAYANOn the evening of the 27th of October, Brazilians looked up to the sky to follow a lunar eclipse. This collective experiment of astronomical observation ended the first National Science and Technology Week. At the Maria Aragão Memorial, in the State of Maranhão, more than two thousand people could see the shadow of the earth projected on the moon at eight observation points set up by the Amateur Astronomy Association of Maranhão. At Marco Zero (Zero Meridian) , in the city of Macapá, four thousand people wathced the phenomenon using a telescope, binoculars, and, with the help of a clear sky, by the naked eye. The experiment, known as “Brazil Looks up to the Sky”, was repeated at the Planetarium in Ibirapuera Park in Sao Paulo; at the Astronomy and Fine Sciences Museum (Mast), in Rio de Janeiro; at the Federal University of Espírito Santo; and even in the Guarani Indian village of Piraquara, Curitiba.

By the reckoning of the Ministry of Science and Technology (MST), responsible for the organization, the week was a success. There were more than 1,800 events held at 252 Brazilian cities between the 18th and the 22nd of October. At least 300 universities, laboratories, research institutes and museums opened their doors to the general public. Around 130,000 people, by the MST accounting, attended lectures, participated in workshops and monitored visits which blended science, culture and art. The event, established by a Presidential decree in June, has the diffusion and popularization of science as its objective and should be repeated every year, always during the month of October. “Let’s look at the errors, correct the mistakes and widen the event having as its goal the mobilization of thousands of Brazilian villages, towns and cities next year”, says Ildeu de Camargo Moreira, the Director of the Department for the Popularization and Diffusion of Science, of the Science and Technology Secretary for the MST’s Social Inclusion Program.

Many of these activities were carried out in schools and public locations. Researchers from the Brazilian Center for Physics and Science Research in the state of Rio de Janeiro, from the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, from the Vital Brasil Institute and from the Astronomy and Fine Sciences Museum, for example, literally camped at the Brazil Science Station in the city of Rio de Janeiro. Children, youngsters and adults lined up in order to learn about extracting the DNA molecules of a strawberry, to have lessons on electricity and to learn a little about movement and velocity. On the 23rd hundreds of people took a train trip between the Central Station in the city of Rio de Janeiro and the city of Nova Iguaçu 31 Kilometers away, accompanied by the Brazilian astronaut Marcos César Pontes. Whilst this was happening, a group of students took the Historic Trail of the Botanic Gardens Research Institute in order to know about items from the historical buildings of the Imperial era to the botanical collections representative of Brazilian ecosystems.

Robot football
In the city of Recife, in Pernambuco State, hundreds of people were attracted to downtown in order to see a replica of the rocket Sonda II, three times smaller than the original and to get to know intelligent robots made from the skeletons of electro-electronics, among other new things. The demonstration was supported forty one (41) institutions, among them universities and foundations. In the State of Acre, a seminar showed how Science and Technology can help in the agronomy business, and in the state of Tocantins the week was dedicated to the study of mathematics. In the Amazon, the Amazonian State Research Foundation (Fapeam) mobilized researchers, professors and students in activities of indigenous education by way of itinerant seminars at various riverside cities.

In the city of Bauru, in Sao Paulo State, the second international competition of robot soccer was held, sponsored by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, of the United States. Twenty six teams from four countries participated. The team from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS) won all of the games that they played, making themselves the undisputed champion of the competition.

FAPESP participated in the coordination of the first Science and Technology Week in Sao Paulo. “We can very well measure the importance of the event through the different research centers”, says Carlos Vogt, the Foundation’s President. In parallel with the activities sponsored by the Research, Innovation and Diffusion Centers (Cepid), on the 18th of October FAPESP launched FAPESP. Indica, a website without equal in Brazil that should assist researchers, administrators and others interested in consulting information for the production and analysis of science, technology and innovation (CT&I) indicators.

The site brings together specialized national and international information. The new service covers dozens of countries, divided up regionally or in blocks, such as the European Union (EU) or the Organization for Cooperation and Economic Development (OECD. “This international coverage represents an important step for the organization of a grouping of information relative to other countries and to scenarios that will allow for a more critical vision for the development of this sector in Brazil”, says Vogt.