Investigating the importance of colors

As you know, we continue working on the project Science of the City #2. Although the first phase of the video contest finished early this year, we are still receiving videos as a result of different collaborations we have established with international institutions, in countries such as Croatia or Netherlands. Moreover, we began with the second phase of the project, in which we aim to establish a bridge between participants and scientists.

On Friday April 5, we were at the Institut Lluís de Requesens, Molins de Rei, Barcelona, holding a workshop for students and researchers. The students from this school participated in the 2nd edition of Science of the City video contest with several videos: ‘Temperature Changes‘, ‘A Flood of Signals‘, ‘Public Services at Molins‘ and ‘Boredom at the Institute‘. The lattest was one of the winners of this edition, in which the students questioned the importance of building design in schools, particularly of the colors used in classrooms and corridors, and how this influences the attention span of the students during the classes. This seemed to us an extremely interesting question and thus, with the help of the Atelier des Jours à Venir, we tried to contact experts on perception and cognition.

Two researchers from the Donders Institute (Nilmegen, Netherlands), Dr. Guillaume Sescousse (Cognitive Control- Perception, Action and Control) and Dra. Mathilde Bonnefond (Neuronal Oscillations- Brain Networks and Neuronal Communication) accepted our invitation and came to Molins de Rei to join the workshop.

In this first session we wanted to, in one hand, create a link between the students and the researchers and, on the other hand, find ways to translate the scientific concepts of the winning video to questions that could be interesting for our invited researchers to follow up at their labs. For that we conducted several activities focused on the topics of learning, attention, color,…

We began with a first exercise in order to ‘break the ice’ within the room: we arranged ourselves according to the color of our eyes, from the lightest to the ones darkest. Then, we asked the students to, in post-its of different colors, write down whatever these colors remind them of: peace, joy, euphoria,… Then, the task was to sort the post-its by topics. Once re-ordered, we could conclude that unconsciously we associate different colors with specific issues or feelings.

The students explained what had motivated them to make the video, and the scientists, their research projects

The students hypothesized that the boring environment of the corridors and classrooms of their school could be one of the reasons for the lack of interest and attention during classes. The neuroscientist Guillaume Sescousse explained how he and his team study the reward processing and risky decision-making, in both healthy and psychiatric disorders’ conditions. Dra. Mathilde Bonnefond explained that part of her work in the lab focus on trying to understand how our brain processes the information and how the different brain regions communicate with each other during the different cognitive processes, such as during visual processing under various levels of attention. To illustrate how the colors can interfere with the learning processes and with our ability to maintain our focus levels, the researchers challenged the students with different exercises. One of them was to try to memorize the maximum number of words during 2 minutes. Each set of words was presented in different background colors: red, blue and gray. At the end of the game, we all could confirm that, as shown in scientific studies, the colors influence our memory and focus capabilities. The red creates tension and make us more focused, opposite to blue, which relaxes us. We usually associate blue colors with creative environments, however, this means a reduced ability to retain information.

At the end of the workshop, we asked the students to re-think the questions and ideas raised in the winning video. We wanted to finish the session with a narrow set of questions on the topic. Here are some of the issues raised: Do colors equally affect people of different ages? Does the way we perceive colors depend on the time of the day or season? Does color affects differently people of different cultures? What colors should be chosen for the different school spaces? What happens in the brain during color perception?


Now, of all the questions and issues raised during this morning, students have to choose one, the one they would like to explore with the help of the researchers. The next workshop is already scheduled: on July we all meet again! We will keep you informed!

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New videos at our Science of the City platform

There are two new entries on our Science of the City #2 platform. The videos are the result of the workshop we held last March in Amsterdam, in collaboration with the Atelier des Jours à Venir and New Urban Collective. As we mentioned in previous posts, this workshop took place in Bijlmer, Amsterdam, with the aim of encouraging kids to question and explore the science behind their urban daily life. During these two months ‘post-workshop’, the students have been working on their ideas and proposals and the end result are these two videos: one, in which they question the quality of the water: Can we infer the quality of the water by its color?, and other, in which they explore the properties of the butane gas: Why is gas invisible?. – By now you can see the original videos, in Dutch; soon the subtitles will be also available.

   

Next April 19, these videos will be exhibited at the Amsterdam Science & Film Festival, at the Nemo Museum.

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Science of the City at the Amsterdam Science & Film Festival

The third edition of the Amsterdam Science & Film Festival will take place during the 18t, 19 and 20 of April. Over thirty scientific videos under the theme ‘Cities of the Future’ will be exhibited in four iconic institutions of Amsterdam: EYE Film Institute, Filmacademie, Nemo Museum and the Institut Français / Maison Descartes. Apart from the video screening, the public will have also the opportunity to participate in workshops and roundtables. The videos will enter in a competition and the last day of the festival the winners of the two categories ‘Grand Prix’ and ‘New Talent Award’ will be announced. Here you can check the full program of the Festival.

La Mandarina de Newton will be also present at this festival! The Science of the City videos produced by the Bijlmer children that participated in the workshop we organized in March, will be exhibited at the Nemo Museum on the 19th. As you might recall, this workshop was organized in collaboration with the Atelier des Jours à Venir and the New Urban Collective with the aim to motivate the kids to question and explore the science hidden in streets of Amsterdam.

We are eager to see the final result of the workshop during the Festival!

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La Mandarina de Newton in the Netherlands

During the first weekend of March, Irene Lapuente (La Mandarina de Newton) travelled to the Netherlands, to Leiden and Amsterdam. This tryp was done thanks to the collaboration with the Atelier des Jours à Venir and the support of Fondation de France.

On March 1st, Irene was at the Faculty of Sciences, Leiden University, to give a talk about science communication models: ‘Beyond the Science Communication Model: Hybridization, Participation and Activism’. Irene was invited to participate in the Leiden Science Communication Seminars, a monthly series of seminars to discuss contemporary issues in science communication. She presented the ‘recipe’ we use and that she believes should be used to communicate Science: a transdiciplinary and participatory model. A model where communicating is much more than just a passive transfer of information: we hybridize disciplines, knowledge, and ways of thinking and working; we believe in a true dialogue and we avoid the monologue. As an example of this way of working, Irene explained the idea behind our project ‘Science of the City’. As you know, this is a project in which we mix different disciplines (science, urbanism, design, audiovisuals, arts…) and in which we have active participation at different levels. At the end of the talk we were quite happy with the feedback and the discussion generated within the audience. You can check the full presentation here:

The day after, March 2nd, Irene, Livio Riboli-Sasco and Leïla Perié had another appointment, now, in Amsterdam. They presented the concepts behind the project ‘Science of the City’ and lead a workshop for children. The aim was to motivate the kids to question and explore the science hidden in their city. The workshop started with a first challenge: the kids had to invent conversations based on questioning. Then, we performed an interesting exercise: with their questions, they had to change the interrogative words (why/what/how/when/where…) and reflect on how this would change the meaning of the questions and therefore, the answers. We also challenged them to question the science behind a series of pictures we distributed among them. Then, it arrived the most fun part for them: they had to explore their own city. They became little scientists and came up with the questions they would like to answer.

   

They took their own photos and their own notes, like a ‘field’ explorer! And they actually came back with a lot of interesting questions and ideas. After this, it was time, within each group, to choose which of the questions they would like to work on and to make the storyboard of their own ‘Science of the City’ video. The workshop finished here, but this was not the whole story! The students will keep working on their projects. The final goal is to produce some videos and to exhibit them at the Science Center of Amsterdam, the Nemo Museum, during the Fim & Science Festival in April. We will keep you updated!!

You can find all the photos of the workshop in the Science of the City Facebook page.

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Discussions at la Mandarina de Newton: science communication and responsable research

The members of the Atelier des Jours à Venir operate as a distributed organization in  different European countries.  This time, they chose la Mandarina de Newton‘s new space for their residence. We organized a discussion about the new roles of science communication and the need for bidirectional projects that include both social communities and research communities.

Here you can see the video of the event including some interviews with the members of the Atelier des Jours à Venir:

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The Atelier des Jours à Venir (& Paris-Montagne) are visiting la Mandarina Space (02/11/2012 6:30pm)!

In two weeks time the Atelier des Jours à Venir (some of them members of Paris-Montagne) will be visiting la Mandarina de Newton new space in Gracia.

If you don’t go away for the long weekend and you want to meet them in person and know a bit more about their project, come next Friday 2nd of November at 6:30pm to La Mandarina de Newton new space at 12 Montseny Street, Barcelona. In the Gracia neighborhood.

The Atelier des Jours à Venir is a non profit cooperative company, composed of young researchers and teachers. Some of its founders are also part of the NGO Paris-Montagne, a collaborator institution of the project Science of the City, that has recently started its second edition.

The Atelier des Jours à Venir develops and performs teaching for students in university research curricula, aiming at fostering sound responsible practices within the research community. By addressing the implicit usages and values that coexist with rational investigation, it aims at empowering university students to become active, creative and responsible members of the research community, contributing to a fruitful dialogue with society.

In addition, the Atelier des Jours à Venir creates and supports projects of scientific culture with a strong social commitment: conveying the research and the values of scientific communities, can empower citizens, in particular in socially deprived contexts, such as French suburbs, Egypt, ex-Yugoslavia, where they have been taking action. We also take action to spread tools for citizen participation in research, from creating questions to gathering & analyzing data.

Their presentation will take the form of an informal discussion, and they look forward to interact with the assistants on the following topics:

  • Local communities
  • Research communities
  • All the interactions among these two concepts

It’s going to be great to hear from them their past experiences and future proposals and we are sure, you’ll have lots to say! So, if you are near Barcelona, do not miss it!

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