TalentLab: Living Experiments session II

On Wednesday November the 2nd, we run the second session of the workshop “Living Experiments“, part of the TalentLab project, at the Agrigenomics Research Center (CRAG, CSIC-IRTA-UAB). We continued working with the same groups as the previous session. This time, though, we had three new members and a missing one. The three groups summarised the initial ideas of the resource proposals that they had defined in the first session. They also added new contributions from the reflections that participants had done online between the two sessions.

From there, the groups did a 3D prototype model of each of the proposals. The idea was to think with their hands using low tech materials to better visualize the resources and to identify areas for improvement that have not been taken into account. The first group proposed a cooperative resource based on bio-energy in order to disseminate their current research in the production of clean energy using living organisms such as microorganisms or transgenic plants. The idea was to provide an online platform for generating informed debates. The second group proposed the creation of a big challenge contest focus on fighting againts human hunger on our planet. Under this proposal, students were asked to offer solutions from different perspectives (scientific, social, North-South relations, etc..). This proposal was also based on an online platform. The third group proposed the design of an ecological footprint graphic adventure. The goal was to make students became more aware of the unsustainability of the nowadays consumption of energy.

At this point, in which the proposals were already quite defined, several iterations were made to refine them. Each group received two people from another group that raised doubts and questions about the educational resource, assuming the role of the character he or she had created in the previous session, ie, a hypothetical end user. This activity was repeated twice changing groups of people.

Later, the members of each group met again to discuss the feedback they had received from the hypothetical users. Each group defined its education proposal in its final version. They filled a matrix with concrete and concise information about their educational resource proposal: main topic, worked concepts, audience, methodology, technical requirements, feasibility, possible difficulties, budget, etc. The groups presented their proposals taking into account these aspects. Finally, they all proceeded to vote individually for the proposal they liked the most.

The result of the voting process was a tie between the second and third proposal. This hold into a general discussion. Among other issues, participants proposed to include the positive aspects of the first proposal into the most voted ones. They also studied how to integrate all the ideas into a single proposal.

Thus, we concluded the first phase of the work. From here we will consider the three proposals, the results of the voting process and the possible integration of all of them in order to produce a final online educational resource. In this second phase, the TalentLab team will continue to ask for the participants contributions!

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Laura Valls. Unitat de Cultura Científica Delegació del CSIC.
Irene Lapuente. La Mandarina de Newton S.L.
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The first TalentLab session: Living Experiments - I

Some days ago we held the first session of the workshop “Living Experiments“, part of the TalentLab project. It took place at the Agrigenomics Research Center, (CRAG, CSIC-IRTA-UAB) a research center of CSIC, the Spanish Sperior Council for Research. The session’s design included an intense working dimension. But, first, to warm up, we started with a visit to the CRAG premises. It was led by CRAG researcher Ana Caño who provided very interesting explanations. It was during the visit to the CRAG greenhouses that the participants in the workshop (researchers and school teachers) started to show their interest in the questions that the session was meant to revolve around.

Starting from these interests, as we had planned, we moved on to get to work in one of the CRAG work rooms. Irene Lapuente from la Mandarina de Newton S.L -CoCreating Cultures- started by explaining the structure of the workshop to the participants. In no time everyone was hard at work!

They organized themselves into three groups. By using different techniques, we facilitated different discussions within each group and a general one as well. Step by step, the attendees become more familiar with co-creation processes.

The first activity, to spark inspiration, started generic discussions about the relationship between science, education and society. The first group remarked the role of the different fears (fear to change in general, of nuclear power, of trangenics) in understanding the relationship between science and society. The second emphasized the role played by the media and educators in creating a predominant image of the animal kingdom in the collective imagination (making plants and vegetables much less prominent in comparison). Finally, the third group picked the goals of improving quality of life and general well-being as an important guiding princple for scientific research which, however, operates under anthropocentric premises.

After this, a more exploratory activity started. Participants were asked to identify challenges for education in the mid-long term (2030). There were significant coincidences between the three groups. All of them gave a key predominant role to the energetic challenge. There were specific contributions and variations on this subject. The first group projected a significant geopolitical shift, motivated by China becoming a global superpower. The second group anticipated a positive twist in the social consideration of researchers and school teachers. The last group envisaged an intensification of conflicts related to natural resources, specially water.

The participants defined the profiles of the users of the educative resources that will eventually be the result of the Talentlab project. They resorted to their own experiences or their imagination to depict the main traits of these future users. They were described as people familiar with new technologies -although they did not necessarily knew them in depth- who had low motivation, were skeptical about everything and had little confidence in their own abilities.

The last activity consisted in building an affinity diagram from elements that had emerged from the previous activities. The first group ideated an activity for the classroom about energy using participatory methodologies. The second group created an experiemental activity that should help in creating a direct relationship between researchers and students. The third group proposed to create a graphic adventure about energy.

All along the session the atmosphere was relaxed and favourable for working. Participants were able to move from very general discussions to a first levell of workable detail. From now until the next session (novembet 2nd) the groups have engaged themselves in an imternal documentation activity that is taking place online.

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Laura Valls. Unitat de Cultura Científica Delegació del CSIC
Irene Lapuente. Co-Creating Cultures/La Mandarina de Newton SL
Ramon Sangüesa. Co-Creating Cultures/La Mandarina de Newton SL
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TalentLab, a co-creation project with teachers and researchers

Talentlab is a project where the main focus is to co-design online educational resources for the classroom

The project is based on co-creation workshops that explore life sciences, environmental chemistry, earth sciences and artificial intelligence concepts. The registration period is now open!

CSIC, through its Science Culture Unit in Catalonia and some of the CSIC research centers, and la Mandarina de Newton SL, have set up TalentLab, a project conceived as a co-creation laboratory of online educational resources for the classroom.

TalentLab mixes professionals from the scientific and educational community in order to add ideas, efforts, abilities and talents, and co-design science education resources. It is aimed at teachers of upper primary, secondary, further education and vocational training.

Workshops
TalentLab foresees the completion of four workshops, each of two sessions each of it, on different scientific disciplines. The registration period for these workshops is already open. You can register through the project website: http://talentlab.csic.es.

The first workshop takes place on October 19th. It is called Living Experiments and it will take place at the Genomics Research Center (CSIC-IRTA-UAB). This workshop goes around the theme of model organisms, or laboratory organism. During the workshop, which will continue in a second session on November 2nd, we work in groups in order to co-design an online educational resource.

Following the same structure we have organized three more workshops: React with the Environment is based on chemistry and environmental issues. Its is going to be held at the Institute of Environmental Assessment and Water Research (CSIC), on the 23rd and  the 30th of November. Hearing the Earth is about the dynamics of the Earth. It will be held in the Ebro Observatory (CSIC-URL) on the 25th of January and the 8th of February 2012. The last workshop is Around Intelligent Machines. It deals with research on artificial intelligence and it will be held at the Institute of Artificial Intelligence Research (CSIC), on the 7th and the 21st of March 2012.

Educational resources resulting from these four workshops will have been co-created by members of the science research and the education community. The idea is to produce high quality products that satisfy both researchers and teachers.

TalentLab is an innovative project that aims to generate debate, dialogue and innovative products in order to foster scientific creativity in young people. It is an initiative of the Culture Unit of the Scientific CSIC Delegation in Catalonia, in collaboration with various research institutes of the CSIC in Catalonia and la Mandarina de Newton SL. It si financed by the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology (FECYT) and has the support of the Educational Coordinating Council of the Municipal Institute of Education of the City Council.

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