Brazil's annual Carnaval earlier this month (from February 16 to 21) played host to an unusual type of science communication in the form of samba parades and puppets. Ildeu Moreira, head of the science communication unit at the Brazilian Ministry of Science and Technology said science themes have been an increasing part of Brazil's Carnaval for decades.
"Since science has become more and more a part of everyday life for the people, it has also penetrated the universe of popular artists," he said.
This year, the samba-school Rosas de Ouro gave the São Paulo Carnaval parade a scientific flavor, weaving a story about the evolution of life, from microscopic organisms to space exploration. They even manage to include Brazil's first astronaut, Marcos Pontes, as one of their attractions.
Religious and scientific beliefs were part of the narrative, which depicted both creationism and the big bang, and drew attention to the destruction of the Amazon rainforest.
Metamorphosis was the main theme for the Vila Isabel samba school in Rio de Janeiro. They presented a story with "scientific, historical and cultural content" inspired by the "constant transformations" in our lives, according to the school's website.
And at the Pernambuco street Carnaval in northeastern Brazil, Albert Einstein mingled with some of Brazil's most famous scientists as 'big puppets', commissioned by the group Science in the Head and Frevo (Brazilian music) in the Feet.
"Carnaval is the most popular festival in Pernambuco, so we designed this science communication strategy aiming to put science on the street," said José Antônio Aleixo da Silva of Pernambuco's Rural Federal University, one of the participants of the group.
Brazilian inventor Santos Dumont – who disputes the Wright brothers' claim to have made the world's first flight – and the physicist José Leite Lopes, who died last year, were amongst those depicted as puppets.
The Pernambuco initiative was launched by the regional Brazilian Society for the Advancement of Science, the science center Espaço Ciência and the Northeast Center for Science Teaching, with support from the Ministry of Science and Technology and local governments.
Three years ago, scientific creation was the theme chosen by Rio de Janeiro-based samba school Unidos da Tijuca, which included a DNA float which appeared in newspapers around the world.
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