Presenting educational resources co-produced by teachers and researchers. New workshops starting in January!

On November 28th, 2012 the second edition of the Talentlab project was publicly presented at CSIC. This is a project supported by the Unit of Scientific Culture of the CSIC Delegation in Catalonia, and it is done in collaboration with la Mandarina de Newton. The Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology, FECYT, has also provided financial support.

The presentation of the second edition of TalentLab was open to all people interested in science. It took place at 5pm in the CSIC Delegation in Catalonia facilities (Egipcíaques, 15, Barcelona) and it showed the goals and results of the first edition of the project. Among them, the educational resources co-produced by participants. It also presented the new edition of TalentLab and their upcoming co-creation workshops. There also was an open round where researchers an secondary school teachers shared their experiences as active participants in the project.

Talentlab: past, present and future.

TalentLab is a co-creation project. It revolves around the organization and analysis of participatory workshops that put in contact different communities. These communities are mainly researchers in CSIC centers and secondary school Science Teachers. Together, they co-designed new educational and science communication materials for secondary school students, focusing on scientific topics.

Its first edition was launched in the 2011-2012 academic year. There were four workshops for teachers and researchers. Each one facilitated that their participants worked together to create new online educational resources, These resources were meant to be later shared and used by the broader educational community in Spain.

One of the results of those experiences are four educational resources that show great richness and variety of content and formats. They include:

The interest of all these resources lies in how they turn secondary school students into the protagonists of a research activity. This could promote their capabilities for research, creativity and reflection.

The second edition of Talentlab is now under preparation with upcoming new workshops open to teachers and researchers alike. They will start next January, 2013. This time, Talentlab will be focused on archeology, space sciences and marine sciences. It will try to exploit to its fullest the common thread connecting all them, namely, risk and technology. On the other hand, Talentlab has opened a new line of work that includes the participation of a wider audience with the aim of involving them in the design and subsequent creation of a scientific exhibition.

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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.

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

Photo credits: Luís Echanove
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