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Pilots Training Course 2012

The Pilots Training Course was a five-day interactive and intensive annual summer school that included workshops, debates and presentations from experienced European trainers.

The course - coordinated by Ecsite, the European Network of Science Centres and Museums, Brussels, Belgium – was organized and hosted by the Pavilion of Knowledge - Ciência Viva in Lisbon, Portugal, from 17 to 21 September 2012.


The course was aimed at explainers (also called animators, guides, edutainers, facilitators, mediators, pilots, etc.) who work in science centres, museums, science festivals, zoos, aquaria or outreach programmes of research institutes and universities and come into face-to-face contact with the public.

The objective of the course was to refresh and foster explainers’ skills and knowledge, with particular focus on adult visitors, by making use of the most up-to-date European literature and methodologies. Explainers working on a local basis had the opportunity to meet colleagues coming from all around Europe and learn from international best practices.

Methodologies and materials are specifically dedicated to the explainers training and have been developed to be effectively used by trainers and educators involved in formal education or adults lifelong learning programmes.

Course content

  • Explainers self perception. Participants shared their views of the profession, learnt about explainers’ role and tasks in the different science centres and museums around the world, and got some hints on self-evaluation.
  • Engaging the difference audiences in science. Participants got to know inquiry-based approaches to be used in science shows, workshops and working with exhibits. They deepened their knowledge of the different publics needs.
  • Working with current science. Participants tried out debates, dialogue activities and discussion games which aim to engage the public with a range of topics from GMOs to rare diseases. They learnt how to tackle controversial issues and facilitate the public expression of opinions.
  • My institution. Participants were invited to reflect on the role of their institutions in the dialogue between science and society. They had the opportunity to share their previous experiences, presenting activities and programmes to the other participants. They finally discussed how to be proactive when back to their institutions, also disseminating the newly acquired knowledge to their colleagues.
  • The course scheme was grounded in the two years’ work of the Pilots EU-funded project (Professionalization in Learning Technology and Science) which concluded in October 2010. The Pilots project aimed to promote the professionalisation of the role of explainers in science centres and museums — through developing European training courses and through research on the role of explainers, with a focus on adult learning.

Community tools

The course was grounded on Europe’s community of science explainers that was developed during the two years EU-funded project Pilots. These individuals were brought together in THE Group, a thematic group of members of Ecsite, the European network of science centres and museums. The Pilots Hub website, a social network dedicated to the professional growth of explainers designed for the Pilots project, also keeps working to facilitate the networking between course participants and all other interested professionals.