Chile has long been dedicated to scientific exploration and discovery, and this is never more evident than during the country’s Semana Nacional de Ciencia y Technologia, or National Science and Technology Week.
This year’s theme is “What’s on your mind?” and towns around the country are set to put on interactive and educational exhibitions devoted to the wonders of neuroscience.
Science in Chile is most often associated with astronomy and engineering, yet neuroscience is alive and well at universities throughout the country. Chile has produced some of the disciplines great scientists, such as Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela who are credited with developing the intriguing biological concept of autopoiesis, an entirely new way of looking at living systems.
Going back further in time, the Chilean port town of Valparaíso will forever exist in the footnotes of neuroscience. It’s in this town that the now legendary Phineas Gage relocated to in the 1800s after the “American Crowbar Case,” where Gage became a source of fascination to neuroscientists worldwide after surviving an iron rod going through his head and destroying his left frontal lobe.
Where to Participate
Semana Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnologia is organised by Chile’s EXPLORE program, an initiative set up by the government in 1995 to promote education and science around the country. The annual event has grown year on year, and this time around you really are spoilt for choice, with activities and fairs happening throughout Chile’s regions.
In Santiago from October 3-6, get down to one of Chile’s most impressive natural history museums, the Museo Nacional de Historia Natural, where more than 30 stands from scientific institutes will provide a variety of entertainment and information.
At museums across the region of Arica and Parinacota, including the Museo Arqueológico de Azapa, Museo de Colón 10, Museo del Mar and the Museo Histórico del Morro de Arica, you’ll have the chance to attend exhibitions and lectures throughout the week.
On October 2, head to the main square in the city of La Serena in north Chile’s Coquimbo region for an open lecture on neuroscience, while on October 6 in Huasca in Atacama you’ll find circus acts and students partaking in outdoor painting competitions.
In Chile’s central O’Higgins region, between October 5-7 at Patio del Gobierno Regional in Rancagua you can marvel at a mobile planetarium, and in the nearby region of Maule between October 1-5 the towns of Talca, San Javier, San Rafael, and Molina will all be holding a series of lectures on neuroscience.
A little further south, across communities in the Biobío region, the March of the Neurons will occur, where students carrying model neurons will march through streets and join synapses together to create the Biobío EXPLORE Neural Network.
If art is your thing, head south to towns in Araucanía, where students from across the region will display the finished product of year long drawing and writing projects on topics such as “What do you see when you dream?” and “Passion or Addiction: what is the limit?” as well as the audiovisual contest “How to fight stress.”
A parade will hit downtown Puerto Montt on October 4, Coyhaique’s Plaza de Armas will hold an interactive exhibition “Celebrating a year of memory” on October 3, and on October 4 and 5 head to Punta Arenas to watch hoards of school children plant trees in aid of Chile’s National Forest Organisation (CONAF).