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Partnerships for enhanced engagement in research (PEER) SCIENCE
Cycle 3 (2014 Deadline)

“A Glass of the Sea:” an immersive, interactive, visual exhibition on the apex of the Earth’s marine life

PI:  Maria Isabel Garcia (, The Mind Museum of the Bonifacio Art Foundation, Inc.
U.S. Partner: Terrence Gosliner, California Academy of Sciences (CAS)
Project Dates: September 2014 to September 2017
A Glass of the Sea is an impactful, immersive, interactive, constantly updated exhibition of the discoveries being made by the National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded expedition in the Coral Triangle. Its objective is to capture larger audiences, drawing attention to the astounding beauty of marine life and the compelling importance of conservation in the Coral Triangle. Using creative, interactive multimedia technology where guests’ gestures can summon graphics and impactful text, A Glass of the Sea is anticipated to palpably connect the science being done with the public understanding of such work. The “drinking glass" concept is anticipated to be implemented through a nearly 360-degree interactive screen showing the Filipino audience videos of the Coral Triangle's marine richness in three key areas in the Philippines (in Luzon, the Visayas, and Mindanao), which will be identified in collaboration with CAS. A marine conservation awareness campaign will be carried out nationwide to accompany the exhibit launch. The impact of A Glass of the Sea among the audiences who will experience it will also be assessed.

A Glass of the Sea directly addresses the general public education and awareness aspect of biodiversity issues in the Philippines. Touring it in strategic areas in the Philippines will broadly extend and magnify the impact of the research work being done by CAS. A Glass of the Sea feedback surveys will measure the increase in awareness of the Coral Triangle and the work that CAS is doing there, as well as their impact on public attitudes and involvement in Coral Triangle protection. In between tours and after the run of the tours, the exhibit will be hosted permanently in The Mind Museum, which receives at least 245,000 guests every year. During the tours, regular scheduled activities will be organized at the museum, during which CAS scientists will hold conversations with the public. The design and video content will be given to other entities in the Coral Triangle, including other partner countries within the Triangle, so that they could replicate it and show it to their own audiences.
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The exhibit has been a great success since its opening in Manila in July 2015. Participants enjoy family educational activities as well as an interactive and modern creature library (Photos courtesy of Ms. Garcia).

Summary of Recent Activities

A Glass of the Sea, an immersive exhibition, was created in July 2015 to build awareness of biodiversity issues in the Coral Triangle by highlighting the work done by the California Academy of Sciences. From that date through the spring of 2017, the exhibition was hosted in 12 high foot-traffic venues (versus the originally planned 3) across the Philippines—on Luzon, the Visayas, and Mindanao—and welcomed more than 100,000 guests (versus the target of 10,000). The results of surveys of exhibition visitors showed that more than 97% (versus the target of 70%) of the respondents positively answered questions related to increased awareness of the Philippines’ high marine biodiversity. Because this project was focused not on research but on public understanding of science, its impact could be evaluated based on insights from the survey findings. According to the PI, Maribel Garcia, these insights include the following:
  1. Communicating science cannot be separated from doing science if it involves public understanding and involvement in such issues.
  2. Exhibitions, if they are presented creatively and in novel ways, are very effective ways to increase awareness and understanding of scientific issues that affect the public. They should be considered an essential component of any scientific issue that needs to be publicly disseminated.
  3. People readily pledge action in concrete ways after they are made to understand the importance of a scientific issue.
  4. Partnership with venues that are highly visible to the public are also essential if the traveling exhibitions need to travel around the country (this exhibition partnered with a large chain of shopping malls, leveraging the interests of the mall owners and exhibition designers in attracting visitors).
  5. There is still a significantly large untapped audience that has yet to become aware of the unique richness of Philippine marine biodiversity.
The PEER team prepared a PowerPoint presentation that they will distribute to environmental NGOs and relevant government agencies, containing their findings and insights in presenting A Glass of the Sea and the role of exhibitions in increasing awareness of biodiversity and other issues that are critical for sustainable development.
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 Exhibition at Manila Film Center, January-March 11, 2017