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Augmented Lectures are an innovative science communication format where a scientist and an artist co-create and co-produce a staged theatrescience lecture performance. Theatre, storytelling and other art forms are powerful tools to elicit emotional responses and provide a more empathetic and inspiring communication of science. This format, developed by the Jet Propulsion Theater, has had demonstrable results in audience engagement with scientists, through cutting edge scientific concepts, connecting with unsuspecting audiences, dispelling stereotypes and misunderstandings, and inspiring young audiences to pursue a scientific career.
Augmented lectures are at the heart of the Theatre of Wonder Festival ( and have received the CULTIVATING CURIOSITY Bronze Award at the 2016 Reimagine Education Conference organized by The Wharton School University of Pennsylvania and QS Quacquarelli Symonds, compiler of the QS World University Rankings.

Target Audience and Language
Augmented Lectures are typically meant for secondary school students aged 15 and older. While - so far - they have been produced in Italian, most are available also in English.

Society is facing immense challenges whose solutions will be complex and multi-faceted, requiring radical and disruptive innovation throughout human systems. This innovation will rely on science. It is therefore essential that scientists be able to connect with non-technical audiences, including civil society, policy makers, the business community, teaching institutions, etc. Current difficulty to connect is borne out of several reasons:
• the science to be explained is objectively complex and difficult to grasp;
• a lack of education and therefore trust of scientists and the scientific method;
• negative stereotypes around scientists, based on some forms of media, culture, create a barrier between the scientist and the audience;
• real or perceived jargon barriers between scientists and their audiences.

Scientists are often simply unable to communicate their science clearly. It is not part of their training, and Augmented Lectures are a possible answer to make science more widely comprehensible through a dual science / art approach. This opens up the connection channels increasing the communication and the understanding of science.

Further details
An Augmented Lecture is quite an improvisational event. It is not a full blown theatre show because the whole idea is to implement a lecture that already exists and augment it with the presence of the artist.
Here are some requirements:
• There are typically three people involved: a scientist, an artist and the director (also the scientific&artistic director).
• The AL should last approximately one hour (so that it can be easily done in schools)
• The AL is based on an actual lecture delivered by the scientist.
• The AL should touch upon topics that are state of the art or in any case of wide interest. The ideal situation is when the scientist describes their research.
• Technically simple (needs to be done in non theatrical situations like in schools and universities).
• Rigorous in content but at the same time clearly divulgative in nature.
• Non time-demanding. The time needed to prepare it should not be more than 5 days of work.
• Educational in aim. It needs to have some educational value. (Augmented Lectures should eventually be used by high school teachers and university lecturers as tools to engage students around specific topics.)
• The artist should not be didascalic and descriptive of the science. The artist should interpret the science with respect to their sensitivity. They should have the maximum freedom to create and propose artistic choices.
• The artist should learn some of the science being delivered so that they can interpret it with awareness.

List of available Augmented Lectures

JPT has developed a set of guidelines and practical know-how to produce Augmented Lectures. Over the years several lectures have been produced. Here we list the ones still available for performance:

The incredible adventure of the Apollo missions and of the astronaut Eugene (“Gene”) Cernan, the last man who walked on the moon.
A lecture by and with Stefano Oss (Department of Physics of the University of Trento) on stage with the musician Enrico Merlin.

Dante had (perhaps) understood everything... the Big Bang and God are the same thing?
A lecture by Anna Pegoretti (Department of Humanities, University Roma Tre) on stage with the actress Laura Anzani.

The story of how we came across antimatter and how, however, we have not (almost) ever seen it.
A lecture by Roberto Iuppa (Department of Physics of the University of Trento) on stage with the sand artist Nadia Ischia.

A journey from Lucretius to the present day to understand how a bright and curious mind can approach the world and capture its beauty, telling it through the language of science but also poetry and music.
A lecture by Zeno Gaburro (Department of Physics of the University of Trento) on stage with musician Enrico Merlin.

A journey into the computational essence of nature: complex and wonderful, unexpected and fascinating behaviors emerge from the cooperation of a multitude of living beings, which we try to tell with information technology.
A lecture by Alberto Montresor (Engineering and Information Science, University of Trento) with the technological and technical support of Tommaso Rosi (Department of Physics of the University of Trento) on stage with musician Carlo La Manna.

For the past few years we have had a new tool to scrutinize the universe. In addition to sight, we can now “feel" the gravitational waves and with them discover distant worlds and wonderful phenomena.
A lecture by Antonio Perreca (Department of Physics of the University of Trento) on stage with actress Lucienne Perreca.

A journey into augmented reality to explore the vision of Homo Sapiens and other animals of the planet Earth. A lecture by and with Tommaso Rosi (Department of Physics of the University of Trento) on stage performance with the composer Giovanni Formilan.

Where do they come from? Why do they slow down or disappear at some point? What can be done to prevent them, or at least to stop them as early as possible? In this augmented lecture, we tell stories on microscopic war of the worlds and the arms race it entails; on Neanderthals’ love adventures; on rainforest butchers; on videogames as a weapon of mass defence; on the fearsome, non-existent disease X; and on the dangers caused by English breakfast and social injustice.

Coaching on creating your own Lecture

Andrea Brunello and Jet Propulsion Theatre is available to coach your Organization through the process of creation of one or more Augmented Lectures. Please contact us for discussing this option and exploring potential collaborations.

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