TalentLab: React with the environment session II

On November 30th, we performed the second session of the ”React with the environment” workshop, at the Institute for Environmental Diagnostics and Water Research (CSIC). This time, all the participants sat around a table to share the highlights of the proposals that were presented in the previous session in order to design a unique proposal.

The need to create a resource that encouraged students to perform some type of research was highly mentioned. On the other hand, it was also stresses the need to look for subjects that students could find interesting and relate to everyday life. It was also spotted that this research had to be performed in small groups and it had to be independent of the research center. However, it was said that the educational resource could be adapted so the most interested students could extend their knowledge on the topics through a more extensive research project.

We discussed the topics that could be the source of these first level research projects. We chose three main areas: pollution, health and nutrition. Therefore, it was proposed to develop three research projects to address some environmental contaminants such as mercury, the trialometans and TBT (tributyl tin), and its effects on living organisms. The first two projects were thought for students at high school level and the third project was thought for students who are at 4th ESO grade. There would be the option to make some adjustments to adapt the projects to the Science for the Contemporary World school subject.

It raised the idea of ​​collecting information on the diet of the students in a class and relate it to the presence of organic forms of mercury in their hair, in order to work on the analysis of the accumulation of mercury in the food chain. To make this analysis we need to use some laboratory technique at the IDAEA. A few students and a teacher could go to the research center to visualise the process and then share it with the rest of the class. The second projet would consist in a collection of real data on the trialometans presence in chlorinated water (eg swimming pools) that CSIC could provide to students. Finally, the third proposal consisted on studying the TBT compound (used in paints for boats to avoid algae and other organisms) through the IMPOSEX effect in a kind of a marine snail. From the observation of many samples obtained in markets, students could study the phenomenon of masculinization of these snails.

It was suggested that the three research practices had an area of ​​documentation, a protocol of the test to be performed and/or some data to be analysed. We also talked about the possibility of students publicating their results. In addition, the educational resource could combine these three research practices with short videos and some visits to the research center. The researchers suggested that visits to the center could be concentrated twice a year during the first and the second term.

Now, we will continue working on the adaptation of these three educational proposals, which already have a high degree of precision, into a digital educational resource.


Laura Valls. Unitat de Cultura Científica Delegació del CSIC.
Irene Lapuente. La Mandarina de Newton S.L.

Photo credits: Luís Echanove

TalentLab: React with the environment session I

On November 23rd, we began the second TalentLab workshop “React with the environment” at the Institute for Environmental Diagnostics and Water Research (CSIC). First of all, we adapted the seminar room to our needs: the chairs with a built-in table (to take notes) were replaced by a pair of tables and some extra space. Instead of a speaker, we had some researchers and some teachers willing to work, following the instructions and activities proposed by Irene Lapuente from la Mandarina de Newton S.L.

Participants were divided into two groups. Following a similar pattern as we did in the first workshop, the groups were introduced to co-creation dynamics through various techniques to generate discussion within each group. This time, the main topic to work on was environmental chemistry.


The first activity, the creation of collages, was used to inspire an initial discussion. The participants showed their main interests and concerns about the environmental chemistry and, from there, the groups established some lines of interest. The first group presented a “chemistry balance” which plays an important role in the issue of risks versus benefits. They put the following example: the use of DDT and malaria. The second group linked water contaminants (mercury, tin, cosmetics, etc.)  and the need to stimulate curiosity and emotions to deal with this problem.

Then, both groups performed an exercise to anticipate how would be the future and what woulb be the goals for 2030. The first group presented the newspaper called “Now & Today”. They highlighted problems in water, energy and food in the context of a city. The newspaper of the second group was “TalentNews”. They highlighted the following issues: energy, water and climate change. Interestingly, both newspapers had only scientific news and none of them talk about politics, culture or sports.

When they defined the profile of the final users of the educational resources (mostly secondary students), they presented not very motivated or active students.

Once we had done these three activities, we proceeded to make an affinity diagram. The different groups were asked to identify the most rellevant concepts and words that had come up during the session. Both groups stressed that research and action were two of the most important requirements to develop an educational resource.

After the affinity diagram, each participant in each group was asked to propose three activities that followed all we had talked about. Then the participants voted the proposals they liked the most. At the end of the session, each group agreed to pick just one of all the proposals. The first group chose a resource about carrying a research on an environmental problems around the school. They gave priority to the scientific method. Next step would be to choose one problem to be studied more closely and propose some solutions or actions. The second group proposed the creation of a research project related to current research using video to record it.

At the end of the session, we had a very interesting and rich debate. Next session will be on the 30th of November. From now until then, participants will go on thinking on these topics and they will work in an online platform.


Laura Valls. Unitat de Cultura Científica Delegació del CSIC.
Irene Lapuente. La Mandarina de Newton S.L.

The “Science of the City” video contest starts today!!

Today officially starts the “Science of the City Video Contest“.  You can find more information at The Tech Virtual new website.

Look at your city with a different perspective. This time, instead  of searching for shops, streets and restaurants, look for scientific finding: snails, fossils, LED, chemical reactions, etc.  Think about a scientific experiment and test it in your city: Newton’s laws, fluids laws, chemistry laws… Or make yourself a question! These are the three categories of this video contest:

Once you have chosen a topic, you can make observations, wonder, get information, run an experiment, use your imagination or ask us. Finally, you can create a 2 minutes video and upload it to “Science of the City“. You can win one of the 7 prizes offered!

We will build an exhibition with the better and most voted videos and with the tags you use.  Do not hesitate and enjoy the experience of creating a different, freak, creative, imaginative, funny video. You can be part of a collective scientific exhibition!

The contest starts now and it will last three months. We will announce regular meetings to co-create the most scientific and original videos ever seen!!

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