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Projects_Experimental Science Communication Labs

Principal applicant: Prof. Dr. Jörg Niewöhner, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Department of European Ethnology

Through a process that entwines theatre and science, the project AnthropoScenes aims to make sustainable water futures a public matter of concern. It will develop performative formats at the intersection of transdisciplinary research and knowledge exchange through a close collaboration between the Theatre of the Anthropocene, the Museum for Natural History, the Humboldt Labor and a cross-institutional water research consortium in the Berlin-Brandenburg region. These collaborative methods will include participatory salons, theater pop-ups, staged productions and performances, digital and online platforms, as well as a grand-finale game show. The objective is not only to broaden the knowledge and experience base from which to co-produce sustainable water futures, but to engage a wide range of publics in Berlin and Brandenburg in the transformations of nature-culture relations in the Anthropocene. The AnthropoScenes novel and unique approach will be continuously evaluated and aims to be transferable to other fields of social-ecological research and beyond.

Principal applicant: Leá Perraudin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, cluster of excellence “Matters of Activity. Image Space Material”

Researchers from the cluster of excellence “Matters of Activity. Image Space Material” and “Science of Intelligence” have joined forces in the experimental laboratory “Wenn Materie lebendig wird” (when matter comes to life). They want to publicly discuss the intelligence of materials and make this a tangible experience. Our relationship to nature and technology is being fundamentally changed by materials which become, to all intents and purposes, intelligent participants in society following the example of nature as active matter. The smartphone can almost be considered as part of the human body; at the same time, increasingly novel clothing materials are imitating nature. Today, different types of technological equipment in our everyday lives interact independently with their environment, for example by means of modern sensor and motor technology or by using self-active, soft or smart materials.

The experimental laboratory uses playful formats to address people from three social groups in order to approach this future topic together with the cluster's researchers: school students, people from start-ups, management and politics, as well as people from the general public. A platform for digital learning modules and laboratories, which can be accessed using a virtual-reality headset, and a pop-up science station are two important components of this. In Flip Science events, postgraduates from the two clusters face off to defend their research as part of a playful competition in an unconventional and comprehensible manner. In addition, robotics workshops or fish bowl events for start-up companies are in the pipeline.

“What if...?” Open workshops in which designs are created and explored in hypothetical future scenarios based on three examples (soft-robotic hand, plant, shoe) represent the central element of the second phase of the experimental laboratory. True to the motto “Knowing by Doing”, the self-activity and intelligence of active materials is thus made comprehensible and tangible. The results of this transdisciplinary work will then be presented to the public as part of a joint exhibition at the Humboldt Forum.

Principal applicant: Prof. Dr. Birgit Kanngießer, Technische Universität Berlin, Institute of Optics and Atomic Physics

Researchers from the fields of physics, chemistry, didactics, and work studies are setting up an experimental laboratory as a teaching module for students. In this way, they can learn at an early stage how to play a mediating role between research and society. By carrying out independent interdisciplinary group work, they aim to develop new ideas for a target group-oriented presentation of scientific data and results with natural scientists from Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, and Technische Universität Berlin, among others. They will be collaborating with research institutions such as BESSY II, the electron storage ring at Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin, and BLIX, the application laboratory for innovative X-ray technologies, which is operated by Technische Universität Berlin together with the Max Born Institute for Nonlinear Optics.

In cooperation with the Experimental Stage Project Berlin and linked to the maker movement, the teaching concept comprises sustainable methods such as 3D printing, Arduino programming or laser-cutting, and also includes artistic methods and concepts introduced through collaborations with UdK, Parallax Lab Berlin, and Hybrid Plattform Berlin. Knowledge exchange with artists for new presentation formats of student-based science communication – for example, through performance, multimedia work or installations – promises to generate new impetus to Berlin as an integrated research environment.

Principal applicant: Dr. Sarah Wolf, Freie Universität Berlin, Institute of Mathematics, Exzellenzcluster »MATH+ Berlin Mathematics Research Center«

The Schule@DecisionTheatre Lab takes its inspiration from the alliance research conducted by the Berlin-based cluster of excellence MATH+ on mathematical modelings of social phenomena. Mathematical modeling can be found everywhere, from crucible development to solar cell improvement to evacuation plans, as well as in societal challenges such as the transition to sustainable materials management or the spread of epidemics.

The experimental laboratory seeks to engage with students and future teachers of mathematics not only about the fascination of mathematical models, but also about their usefulness in society. To this end, two formats are combined in a productive way. A school lab workshop, a series of lectures and workshops, provides exciting insights into mathematics with its many real-life references and introduces mathematical models. In the Decision Theatre, participants can experiment with mathematical models of selected social phenomena by acting out complex decision-making processes using data.

Principal applicant: Prof. Dr. Vera S. Rotter, Technische Universität Berlin, Institute of Environmental Technology

The project “Trash Games: Playing with the Circular Economy Transition at the HdM” brings together the Chair of Circular Economy and Recycling Technologies (Technische Universität Berlin) and the Stadtlabor for Multimodal Anthropology (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin) to develop and explore games and game design as formats of public engagement with the Circular Economy (CE). The idea of a circular economy goes beyond current top-down efforts to achieve sustainable development by extending the life of products and the materials they contain through their reuse, repair, remanufacturing and recycling. We experiment with games as a special form of science communication enabling accessible, speculative and interactive forms of participation of non-homogeneous publics in complex topics. In cooperation with actors of the civic platform “Haus der Materialisierung” – part of the Haus der Statistik, flagship project for community-oriented neighborhood development in Berlin –, we will develop a game that explores potentials and conflicts in the social transition to a collaboratively managed circular economy.

Principal applicant: Prof. Dr. Mazda Adli, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy

Your Emotional City! “Emocity Citizen Science Laboratory.” Jointly Exploring Stress and Resilience In Urban Dwellers

Cities are growing. At the same time, mental strain caused by stress is becoming increasingly common among urban dwellers. Researchers from the fields of psychiatry, urban planning, psychology, neuroscience, architecture, sociology, philosophy and ethnography have joined forces in the “Interdisciplinary Forum Neurourbanism” to help investigate the influence of the city on people's emotions, behavior, and mental health. With their interdisciplinary research, they have as their aim the creation of cities that are worth living in and that are conducive to the mental health of their inhabitants. This is the starting point for the experimental laboratory Emocity Citizen Science Laboratory. In cooperation with Futurium Berlin, it hopes to raise social awareness for this pressing issue of urban living. With its app-based Citizen Science approach, the project invites Berlin residents to actively explore the impact of city life on our mental health with researchers. What are the city's stress points? What are places of well-being? In interactive events, forums and workshops, they meet up to exchange knowledge and develop an emotional city map of Berlin.

The project team consists of Prof. Dr. Mazda Adli (Charité), Prof. Dr. Joerg Fingerhut (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin), Prof. Dr. Klaus Gramann (Technische Universität Berlin), Prof. Dr. Rainer Hehl (Technische Universität Berlin), Dr. Nadja Kabisch (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin) and Prof. Dr. Ulrike Kluge (Charité). The project is managed by Prof. Dr. Mazda Adli (Head Research Division Affective Disorders) from Charité and Prof. Dr. Joerg Fingerhut (Berlin School of Mind and Brain) from Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, who are also available as contact persons: mail@neurourbanistik.de