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Pilots Resource Pack for Training Explainers

  • June 2010
  • Education & learning
  • Material for workshops and exhibitions

A pack to support both expert and new explainers in their training. Explored: the role of the explainer / the idea of enquiry-based learning / the development and conduction of debate activities / science shows. Produced as part of EU-funded project Pilots.

Explainers in science centres and museums are highly qualified professionals who constantly work to adapt to the current needs of new generations of visitors. Explainers are flexible communicators, who know how to listen to their various audiences and mediate between them and the world of science. In order to do this effectively explainers need to continually develop their skills by searching for new ways to communicate both basic scientific principles and the latest findings and perspectives of science research. We believe that the best way to increase one’s knowledge and abilities is to reflect on field-practice together with others.

The activities propose new practical ideas, guided conversation and prompts for reflection that allow explainers to explore – together with their colleagues – issues that are pertinent to their professional development and practice. The resources are aimed at professional explainers and they are therefore intended mostly as “tools for thought”. Rather than giving theoretical frameworks, they want to stimulate independent thinking and prepare for further personal, free learning. Activities are thus based on the idea of reflective practice, where participants are invited to experience some practical activities and use these to reflect on their own practice. All activities involve the sharing of personal reflections among participants and materials are thought of as triggers for thought and conversation.

These resources were written to support both expert and new explainers in their training, focusing on four areas of interest:

  • The first cluster of activities is dedicated to reflections on the role of the explainer and it includes activities that help reflect on the specific skills and abilities that all explainers should have.
  • The second cluster focuses on the idea of enquiry-based learning and on how to develop activities for our visitors that take into consideration their own pre-knowledge, interests and thinking patterns.
  • The third cluster is dedicated to the development and conduction of debate activities which may be particularly interesting for those who want to involve adult visitors in controversial issues in current science.
  • The last activity is dedicated to science shows as a means to engage visitors by creating emotionally charged experiences and environments. Resources include detailed descriptions on how to conduct the activities, printable handouts, supporting presentations and useful readings.

This material has been produced with support from the European Commission (Professionalisation for learning in technology and science 141872-LLP-1-2008-1-BE-GRUNDTVIG-GMP. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.)

Permission for use of these materials is granted for noncommercial educational purposes, under the Creative Commons license Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported. Users who wish to duplicate these materials must ensure that the Pilots project is properly credited, and the original source and logos must be included.

Public resource


  • explainers
  • mediation
  • pilots
  • training
  • enquiry-based learning
  • debate activities
  • science shows



The Pilots project worked towards the professionalisation of the role of explainers in science centres and museums both through developing European training courses and through research on the role of explainers, with a focus on adult learning.