Educação não-formal e divulgação de astronomia no Brasil : o que pensam os especialistas e o que diz a literatura
Marques, Joana Brás Varanda
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Non-formal education and public communication of science received broad attention around the globe in recent years, which confirms it as a knowledge field with great potential for the formation of a scientific culture and science education. Within this field, Astronomy constitutes a privileged area due to the existence of a network of institutions across the whole country, the specificities of the community of amateur astronomers and the fascination which the subjects provokes in audiences of all ages. Yet, although the community of academics and educators begins to recognize the unique potential of Astronomy in non-formal education and public communication of science, the area has only been growing slowly and in a disperse manner and still remains ill explored and little analyzed. For example: What are the research trends? What are the shortcomings of the existing literature? Driven by this need for exploration, this study sets out to consolidate and enhance the existing knowledge base on the practice of non-formal education and public communication of science in the context of Brazil being the main objectives to: i) systematize and map the scientific literature on non-formal education and public communication of Astronomy in Brazil; ii) identify trends, priorities, gaps and future directions of the field, based on the opinion of a panel of experts of different backgrounds related to the field of non-formal education and public communication of Astronomy in Brazil; iii) integrate the data obtained from the literature review and the outcome of the consultation of experts to outline a comprehensive picture of the area. In order to achieve these objectives we conducted a state-of-the art review and consulted 86 specialists using the Delphi methodology which consists in a series of successive questionnaires. In terms of methodology qualitative analysis in form of content analysis of the questionnaires and the literature and quantitative analysis in form of descriptive statistic were combined. As expected, the results of the state-of the art review confirmed that research in this area is still in its infancy; only 20 articles could be identified being the majority descriptions of activities. However, in terms of institutions, initiatives and activities the area appears to be very active and heterogeneous and people involved show enthusiasm and dedication. Meanwhile, our Delphi reveals the major problems and barriers which have to be overcome to unlock the full potential of Astronomy in the area of science education. It further provides a controlled discussion on possible solutions suggested by the specialists itself. A majority agrees that the creation of an overarching entity, which co-ordinates, supports and unites the community, would be beneficial to the development and spread of the area. The apparent desire to discuss, reflect and act on how to improve the area - as shown by the community - remains to be underlined. Seen the strong involvement in this study of people actively participating in non-formal education and public communication of science, it is argued that one of the major contribution of this study was to foster and nourish this joint reflection. We hope that our results can provide a starting point for further reflections and actions which result in a better understanding of the area.