Crowdfunded science exhibit encourages duplication

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The United Nations Education, Science and Culture Organization headquarters in Paris recently hosted the launch of IMAGINARY, a new platform for collaborative mathematics and maths art, or open mathematicsThe launch was part of the Mathematics of Planet Earth Day and the opening of the first international crowdsourced science, open source exhibition hosted by the platform: Mathematics of Planet Earth.

From IMAGINARY creator, Mathematisches Forschungsinstitut Oberwolfach:

It allows visitors to understand the planet, its diversity, and its problems through math. The content was created by teams from all around the world, and chosen by an international jury of renowned scientists and educators. It consists of interactive and physical modules, films and images, and is part of the international initiative MPE2013, a project with more than 130 partners worldwide.


All modules within the exhibit can be duplicated, and the IMAGINARY platform enables the community to use all exhibits free of charge in their own exhibitions and to publish content using an open source license.

It's a process that represents a new way of communicating and collaborating in science and research.

In the US, the National Science Foundation, for one, is on board, pledging to support IMAGINARY by:

  • conducting five research workshops that will each define a set of future research challenges
  • establishing a Research and Education Forum (REF) associated with each workshop that will involve follow-up smaller group meetings to flesh out the challenges, identify potential follow-up activities, and begin collaborations
  • holding an education workshop that helps to identify how to integrate themes identified in the research workshops into undergraduate and graduate curricula
  • finding ways to involve the next generation of mathematical scientists in the effort, with special emphasis on involving under-represented minorities in the MPE workforce of the future, especially through a "pre-workshop" directed at preparing graduate students, postdocs, and others for involvement in the research workshops
  • disseminating information about the mathematics of planet earth by creating a website and other publicity materials for the project

See a list of planned workshops.

Thoughts on participation in science and math from Director of Oberwolfach, Professor Dr. Gert-Martin Greuel:

The way we perceive and communicate mathematics is changing. The general public is longing for interactive museums showing actual research and highlighting open questions. With IMAGINARY we try to go one step further: the public not only visits museums or exhibitions, they create and stage them—in an intuitive manner! This way they become an integral part of the communication process—and science itself becomes participative.

A similiar sentiment is cropping up in the field of scientific research, with some saying the new leaders in science will be those who share.

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Jen leads a team of community managers for the Digital Communities team at Red Hat. She lives in Raleigh with her husband and daughters, June and Jewel.

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