With the goal of bringing nature to people who live in urban centers and reestablishing the connection between human beings and nature, the Boticário Group Foundation for Nature Protection inaugurated in March 31, at the Eldorado Shopping Mall, in São Paulo, the Nature Station Connection. The unprecedented exhibition is free, travelling, and stayed in the city until April 13. After the capital of the state of São Paulo, the exhibition will travel to Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte, Brasília, Salvador, Fortaleza, Curitiba, Porto Alegre, Campo Grande, and Belém, travelling a total of 15,000 kilometers and reaching a potential public of over 60 million people living in all Brazilian biomes.
The Nature Station Connection exhibition was devised with the goal of raising the visitors’ awareness for the cause of nature conservation, offering surprising interactive activities, using advanced technological resources.
“Nature conservation is everyone’s responsibility, because our attitudes directly influence biodiversity and everything it has to offer us. In this unprecedented exhibition, we chose to show this relationship through beauty and happiness because we believe that thus people are more sensitized,” says Miguel Krigsner, the founder of O Boticário and the Boticário Group Foundation for Nature Protection. He emphasizes that the free and travelling character of the exhibition aims at reaching as many people as possible. “For this reason, we chose to start by the most populous capitals in all Brazilian regions,” he comments.
According to Malu Nunes, the executive director of the Boticário Group Foundation for Nature Protection, people’s awareness on something is raised when they feel part of it. “It is this awareness that we will offer for them to feel touched and integrated with nature and, based on this, they may reflect. It is the first step of a more proactive action in conservation,” Ms. Nunes explains. The exhibition is part of the celebrations of the 25th anniversary of the Boticário Group Foundation for Nature Protection who, since 1990, has been promoting and undertaking nature conservation actions throughout the Brazilian territory.
The inspiration for the exhibition came from the book The Web of Life: A New Scientific Understanding of Living Systems, by Fritjof Capra in which, based on scientific theories, he proposes a holistic and interconnected view of ecology, according to which human beings are part of nature and not superior to it.
Innovation and technology applied to sensitize
Everything is connected: this is the great message of Nature Station Connection. And so that people can experience this idea several stations were developed, with the Connection Station being the main one. In it, there is a sensorial movie of six screens mounted in 360 degrees, which is a true immersion in breathtaking natural landscapes. While people watch the video about nature — and learn how they are connected to it — will also feel cold, heat, wind, rain, all in an aromatized environment.
The “voyages without leaving the place” do not stop there: at the Natural Beauties Station, visitors will have the opportunity of wearing oculus rift and virtually visit the Salto Morato Nature Preserve, a protected area that is maintained by the Boticário Group Foundation for Nature Protection in the coast of the state of Paraná, within the largest continuous tract of Atlantic Forest in the country.
In other stations, visitors may also have fun playing interactive games, using innovative technologies such as kinect, in which game characters replicate the movements made by the participants, and motion by hands, in which people pass their hands over the screen, without having to touch it, in order to interact in the several phases of the game.
A type of encyclopedia was also developed about the marine ecosystem and the six major natural regions in Brazil, called biomes: Amazonia, Pantanal, Pampa, Atlantic Forest, Caatinga, and Cerrado. In a touch map, visitors may access information about the fauna, flora, features, cultural aspects, degree of threat to species, among other, in these regions.
“Using simple language, which is accessible, and funny activities, the exhibition reaches children of all ages, students, families, and even people who have never heard of conservation,” Teresa Cardoso, coordinator of the Nature Station Connection, explains.
She also tells that raising awareness about greenhouse gasses emissions is very important, especially in face of a climate change scenario which we are currently facing. For this reason, the Power Station was devised: in it, three bicycles are connected to the reproduction of a life-size small tree. When people ride these bicycles, a calculator presents in real time information of how much fossil fuel is being saved during the ride, in addition to the greenhouse gasses whose emission was avoided, among other data. “When visitors use the bicycles, a piece of the tree will light up. And if the three bicycles are working together, the tree will be entirely lit, emphasizing both teamwork and interdependence,” Ms. Cardoso comments.
In order to encourage the “ecological rides” a competition will be organized between the cities that will host the exhibition. “Each new capital will be aware of how much the previous one has ridden and will be encouraged to beat their record,” Ms. Cardoso emphasizes.
Special treatment of schools
In the technological-urban age that we live in, few children in large cities have the opportunity of a closer contact with nature. Thus, the Nature Station Connection intends to get them closer to this subject that is often so far away. For that, schools will be presented with the opportunity of taking their students to visit the exhibition during mornings and afternoons, in guided visitations.
In spite of the special treatment of schools, the Nature Station Connection is not directed exclusively to this public. “The way how content was structured and made available makes the environment an ideal place for people of all ages and cultural background, including youths, college students, and families in general,” Ms. Cardoso emphasizes.
New methodology will assess the effects of the exhibition
In order to know to what extent the exhibition achieved its goal of raising awareness of people about the environmental cause, a survey was developed based on the conceptual maps methodology (devised by Joseph Novak). After passing by the attractions at the Nature Station Connection, visitors will answer some questions and will be asked to select images that will appear in a screen.
“Based on the replies, we will be able to assess whether the visitors understood the content; or if they understood but they are not sensitized; or if they assimilated that they are connected and developed some kind of feeling regarding the theme,” Teresa Cardoso concludes. She also emphasizes that it is important to have this feedback in order to know if the desired effect was achieved and what can be improved. This is a pilot project that will be tested for the first time in the country that is intended to be taken to other capitals in the near future.