Ciência Viva, the Portuguese National Agency for Scientific and Technological Culture, was created in 1996 to promote public awareness of science and technology and science education at a national level, with a particular emphasis on young people. Ciência Viva started as a unit of the Ministry of Science and Technology and is now an association of public bodies and research institutes.
Since its creation Ciência Viva has been developing activities along three different and complementary streams: science education (schools), public awareness of science (citizens) and a national network of science centres. The Agency promotes and supports science education projects at school and internships for secondary school students in research laboratories during the holidays. Furthermore, Ciência Viva organizes a National Science and Technology Week and a widespread campaign of science activities in the summer for the general public (Ciência Viva in Summer). Ciência Viva’s network of 20 science centres, in collaboration with universities and local authorities, acts as platforms that drive regional development in scientific, cultural and economic dimensions.
The Pavilion of Knowledge – Ciência Viva is the country’s largest science centre. It has been open since 1999 and is presently the headquarters of the Ciência Viva association. With a strong emphasis in hands-on activities and interactive exhibits, visitors can actively explore a variety of scientific themes. This is further supported by mechanical and electronic workshops, laboratory spaces and more recently by a tinkering space which extends the opportunities to experience the maker culture and DIY at the Pavilion of Knowledge – Ciência Viva.
Ciência Viva participates and develops projects aimed at putting the public in direct contact with scientists. Ciência Viva participates in several FP7 projects to foster the dialogue between science and society (VOICES, NERRI, RRI Tools, for example). Furthermore Ciência Viva has since 2011, organised the European Researchers’ Night in Portugal, an initiative which has been a success at national level.
The Pavilion of Knowledge is a member of two of the main international science center associations: Ecsite, the European Network of Science Centers and Museums, based in Belgium and ASTC, the Association of Science – Technology Centers, based in the USA. Presently it holds the presidency of Ecsite.