TalentLab: Amongst Intelligent Machines–session II

The second session of the “Amongst Intelligent Machines” workshop, from the TalentLab project, took place on March 21st. On arrival, we resumed the groups of the previous session and we started working. First we warmed up engines with an activity that sought to recover and share ideas from the first session. Thus, each group summarized the main lines that define the resources proposed in the brainwritting or fast rain of resources.

After being placed, we got straight to the matter and the groups were proposed to specify a single resource proposal. The proposals were constructed by combining knowledge (imagination, experience, talent, etc.) and available materials (clay, ribbons, sticks, balls, etc.).

The first group came up with a platform (or box) from wich emerged challenges to be solved by users based on his knowledge of constraints. The challenges could be to design an urban ecosystem management (dams, nuclear plants, etc..) and the users would be different educational centers proposing solutions based on collaborative work. The second group proposed a game that could be physical (boardgame) or virtual designed to exercise how to make decisions and work with values (money, culture, welfare, autonomy, etc.) in connection with the introduction of technology in society. The aim of this dynamic would be to show the influence of values when citizens of a given society make their own decisions. The third group conceived of a resource that would combine computers and robotics in order to work collaboratively. The idea is that two computers or users should design a common task to be performed by two robots like, for instance, two units transporting an object together. To accomplish the goal both robots should establish communication successfully, using Scratch programming to design and simulate the robotics tasks.

When the proposals were enough defined, we proceed with a series of iterations in order to improve them. The groups were divided so that one half stayed to defend the proposal in front of “potential users” posing doubts and exposing limitations. The other half went to see the proposal of another group putting on the skin of the “person” defined in the first session. After iterating a couple of times, each group shared the contributions made by other participants, identified certain deficiencies and incorporated new elements from the suggestions received. Thus, the first group saw the need to limit the approach of the platform to a single challenge with goals that should be defined. The second group incorporated the idea that the issues raised should be based on specific situations (such as a daughter that leaves her mother one afternoon with a robot companion). It was stated that the differences in values would emerge more clearly from this kind of situations. Also, he suggested the possibility that the users ponder by themselves the values associated with certain activities. Moreover, was made known the existence of similar resources as the Deliberatorium MIT or a card game. The third group saw the need to establish some kind of sensor-based communication between robots.

Later, participants were required to assess in more detail the main aspects of the resource to design (philosophy, theme, methodology, requirements, problems, budget) and these considerations were exposed to the other groups. Once done, there was a vote (I can’t remember the name of the voting system used). The most voted proposal was ArgumentaTIC, created by the second group, although all were well balanced and fairly valued. The possibility to incorporate aspects of the first and third proposals to the chosen proposal was also discussed.From now on we have to work on this proposal and see if it is possible to perform with the available resources, and other to come from other sources (sponsors) or if is more convinient to produce it at a later stage.

In the final reflection, some participants expressed their interest in seeing the work done in the workshop translated into an educational resource. A point shared by the organizing team, who reiterated the idea of producing educational resources arising from a process of co-creation, as one of the goals of this project. But at the same time, the team stressed the importance of the working process by itself, ie, the fact of involving teachers and researchers, the working dynamics, contacts established (worknetting) etc.

With this workshop we end the series of workshops planned for this year. Hopefully we will see soon the educational resources produced. We also hope that next year we can make the second edition, coming with with new topics (archeology, marine sciences, astronomy, etc.) and work together with more research centers that are asking for more activities. New workshops and new resources.

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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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TalentLab: Listening to the Earth - Session II

On February 15th we started the second session of the “Listening to the Earth” workshop, within the TalentLab project, with a visit to the centenary facilities of the Ebre Observatory (Observatori de l’Ebre de Roquetes). From the beginning the center was focused on the study of the relationships between the Sun and Earth, a pioneering research that, over time, has become increasingly important.

The visit focused on three main areas: the astronomical observatory, the meteorological station and the library. At the observatory we saw different telescopes used to observe the activity of the Sun and other less bright celestial bodies. At the weather station we saw different devices (traditional and modern) used to measure weather parameters. The Observatory owns a very homogeneous and stable data register (temperature, precipitation, humidity, etc.), which is highly relevant for climate studies. Finally, we accessed the library, specializing in Earth science, a pleasant place that over a century has accumulated more than one linear kilometer of publications. A centenary documentary essential for students of History of Science, where you can find technical books from the library of Narcís Monturiol.

After the visit, we went to a room to continue with the workshop in order to reach a specific proposal for an educational resource. We decided to join together in one group and to start working with our hands. But it took us a while: our engines were still cold!

Slowly, the first ideas arose: vegetation, facilities of the Observatory, videos, students, researchers, teachers, a wiki platform, a channel, weather stations, etc. From this point we began to mold the shape of the resource. It could be a wiki platform to work on the local climate combining the data collected with the observation of the vegetation. Students could try to find answers to the questions posed in a questionnaire and the results would be published on the platform with short videos easy to produce (MovieMaker). The idea is to offer an independent and interesting practice in itself, but could be complemented with a visit to the Ebro Observatory, thus adding value to the resource, comparing and discussing the data with professional researchers. The platform could also allow to compare data from different locations provided by different educational centers and, if done continuously, establish temporary records.

At this point, the proposal was contrasted with “future users”. They pointed the need for scheduled resources (files), that can be done in the classroom and in a cooperative way. Finally, the proposal was refined by introducing a wiki page for teachers and researchers where answer questions, include a protocol for making a rain gauge (if the school does not have one) and the possibility of comparing data between countries.

The group felt that the coordination between the Ebro Observatory and the CSIC Delegation is essential to go ahead with the project, both in preparing the contents and in managing the access to the wiki platform. The budget for this educational resource should not be too high. Finally, concluded that the title could be “My time and wether”. We could not ask for a more specific proposal.

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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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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.

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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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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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