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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