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Future thinking in science centres: methods

Thinking about the future is fundamentally important for people of all ages. How can we as science engagement organisations provide a platform for this thinking? Three museum practitioners and a professional Futurist share their future thinking methods for engaging the public and lead attendees through active future thinking exercises.

To get thinking about the future, participants will play “The Thing from the Future” in which they create a “thing” that meets certain futuristic criteria. We will utilise our collective expertise to consider multiple possibilities for the future. After an introduction on why it is critical that we teach the future in formal and informal education spaces, our three practitioners will share their case studies. This will be followed by a question and answer session.

Following this session we invite attendees to join us in the GameLab in the next session slot for an opportunity to receive a first-hand experience with our methodologies.


Vice President of Exhibits
The DoSeum
San Antonio
United States

Session speakers

Peter Bishop
Exec Director
Teach the Future
United States
Peter Bishop will open with a discussion on why we teach the future and how the informal education space can lead the charge. People perceive much greater change in their past than in their future, affecting how we teach the future. He will discuss how we can teach people of any age to think critically about the future and develop agency to influence it. In the interactive portion attendees will work through a sample lesson in futures thinking.
Director, MOD.
MOD. at the University of South Australia
Kristin Alford will explain how the application of foresight frameworks informed the design of MOD., including its vision, design principles and development processes. Examples from past and upcoming exhibitions will show how this embedded foresight thinking helps the target audience of younger adults find new ways to navigate their future. For the interactive session, participants will learn and apply tools that provide five different ways to support futures thinking.
Vice President of Exhibits
The DoSeum
San Antonio
United States
Meredith Doby will discuss “Dream Tomorrow Today”, an exhibit which encouraged children to imagine their desired future and practice the skills needed to achieve that future. Children problem-solved design challenges and presented their ideas to the city’s master planners. In the interactive portion she will share a City Lab augmented-reality app in which users build a future city based on values which must withstand a natural disaster as well as a Future STEM Career Generator.
Heureka has strategically chosen future thinking as one of its three major themes. Mikko Myllykoski will discuss science centre’s new projects that embody the futures theme: circular economy or how we should be more clever with our material resources; and constructing in wood. For the interactive portion Mikko will share a variety of future focused exhibits including an exhibit about invasive species.