Title:Science LinX: the NeXt Level in Augmenting Science Center Xperiences
Authors:Ingeborg Veldman, Tanja van der Woude, Bart van de Laar, Renske de Jonge
Publication:MW2011: Museums and the Web 2011

In recognizing its societal role as a research university and in facing an (inter)national  decline in science students, the University of Groningen developed a successful outreach program to attract teenagers to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), even doubling its student numbers in STEM.

Science LinX, the science center of the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences of the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, plays a pivotal role, linking formal to informal learning. The major task of Science LinX is to inspire hard to get teenagers with often hard to communicate cutting-edge science.

In our strategy we've experienced the usefulness of the BètaMentality Model, which maps the attitudes towards science and technology of teenagers and distinguishes four basic groups (High Techs, Career Techs, Curious Generalists and Non Techs). Combined with the learning theory of Kolb and Brainstyles Model, it gives us a grip in linking our physical and virtual activities in tailor made programs to the specific needs of each group.

Science LinX offers science activities, exhibits, expos, serous games, demonstrations, workshops, debates, speed dates with role models, science café's and competitions, constantly combining the virtual with the physical. Science centre and website are set up simultaneously and in accordance with one another. To connect to the RL (Real Life) and SL (Screen Life) of teenagers, we've blurred the walls of our science centre even further, by participating with an Arts & Science pavilion at the yearly Performing Arts Festival in the city.

Like other science centres and musea we aim at the most effective mix of media and blended learning, generating a better image of science and technology towards teenagers. Often referred to as the Net-generation or Generation-Z: with preference for tweets and sound bites, low attention span, but also 2nd nature talent for problem solving and collaborating, seemingly controlling the world at their fingertips. We deliver them different types of unexpected and exciting user-experiences, and challenge them to hang out, mess around en geek out with science in the different informal learning spaces of Science LinX, according to the categories of the Digital Youth Project.

In our newest AR (Augmented Reality) exhibit, virtual researchers of our faculty hang out with teenagers who play the AR game. Meeting scientists in new ways like this, telling the stories of science in short text message formats, without loosing the scientific value, are new and Xperimental ways for Science LinX to investigate the new possible ways of bringing the hard to communicate scientific subjects like nano-technology, closer to the daily lives of our visitors. We'll present a number of these examples, directly connected to the varying types of teenagers.