10/02/2020

Barcelona promotes scientific vocations, turning the Fòrum, the Lluís Companys Olympic Stadium and Tibidabo into gigantic laboratories for 6,000 adolescents

This school year, 6,000 2nd- to 6th-year secondary school pupils will be taking part in an initiative that will make Barcelona a benchmark in education and a leading city in terms of promoting STEAM culture  


The activities are being promoted by B:SM, in collaboration with UPC's Barcelona East School of Engineering and Science 360

The activities are based on gender equality, and are aimed at breaking down society's popular stereotypes and showcasing new female role models in an attractive, accessible way, to promote scientific vocations among young women

The project also aims to highlight female role models, with an emphasis on rejecting stereotypes and fostering scientific vocations among young women

This edition is geared towards 2nd- and 3rd-year compulsory secondary school (ESO) pupils, to raise the profile of scientific vocations at a moment when these young people are deciding on their future educational pathways

Barcelona takes another step forward in promoting scientific vocations among adolescents and young people and becoming a Southern European hub for educational innovation in STEAM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics). The project also aims to highlight female role models, with an emphasis on breaking down stereotypes and fostering scientific vocations among young women.

This spring, three of the city's iconic locations, the Tibidabo Amusement Park, the Lluís Companys Olympic Stadium and the Fòrum Park, will become the vertices of a triangle of science where large-scale, fun, rigorously scientific activities involving 6,000 adolescents will take place. These facilities have been chosen because they already have large-scale resources and are attractive locations to capture the attention of the young people taking part

Barcelona Municipal Services (B:SM), the Polytechnic University of Catalonia · BarcelonaTech (UPC), the UPC's Barcelona East School of Engineering (EEBE) and Science 360 have designed a series of activities that will be added to those already being carried out in the city, with the aim of making Barcelona an educational benchmark

To this end, various educational experiences such as the Fisidabo 2K projects (now in its 3rd edition) and Visions-STEAM Anella, which has been visited by over 6,000 students in the last two years, have been created for pupils based their compulsory secondary school and sixth-form curricula. It is hoped that 6,000 more students will take part in 2020, given that a new activity is being included: the Visions-STEAM Fòrum

Notably, these STEAM days also contribute to educational innovation in the classroom. The boys and girls take part in the activities after working on their curricula in the classroom, using materials provided by the initiative, thereby helping Barcelona to become a leading city in education and the STEAM culture

Flexibility, accessibility, creativity and innovation

STEAM culture and the activities fostered by B:SM, UPC and EEBE aim to provide students with knowledge in a flexible and accessible way, contributing creativity and innovation in a fun environment, but with all the necessary scientific rigour. This not only helps to keep the students motivated, but it also takes the social factor of the learning experience into account. Furthermore, this project is implemented with a gender perspective, and aims to reject stereotypes and create female role models that place women at the centre of science, an area where historically there has been little female presence.

Various experiments are carried out in each activity. They are sometimes thought out and designed by students from the University, based on specific content from compulsory and post-compulsory secondary education course materials. It is therefore a session made by and for students, thus achieving an immediacy that favours the learning experience still further. But these sessions are not only about isolated activities, but rather they complement the educational content the students work on in the classroom, while also inviting the general public to get involved

Using a cross-cutting approach, subjects which are difficult to explain inside the classroom due to their level of complexity have been chosen, transforming them so that they can be explained in a more fun and entertaining way. In addition to promoting scientific and technological culture, the activities offer multi-disciplinary perspectives on a given subject, creating a dialogue between scientific methods and creative processes

Three different formats for three different age groups

The Fòrum Park will be the first location to hold a large-scale activity this year, with Visions-STEAM Fòrum on 14 February. This first edition aims to repeat the success of last year's Visions-STEAM Anella, held in the Olympic Stadium. On this occasion, the students taking part are 4th year secondary education and sixth-form students, who will be doing 15 different activities specifically created for them, based on the curricular content of their physics, chemistry, technology, mathematics and biology courses.

The 2nd edition of the Visions-STEAM Anella is being held on Thursday 2 April. This is geared towards 2nd- and 3rd-year secondary school students, who will also be doing 15 experiments to learn about the same subjects, along with physical education and music. The session is structured around three main pillars of knowledge: brains, matter and energy, which together with art and technology, will help to explain some of the most transcendental matters concerning the future of our society.

With the help of neuroscience experts, the experiments will enable students to discover how the brain communicates with the rest of the body using electrical signals, among other experiments that include:

•    Perception, alcohol and traffic accidents. The groups of students experience the effects of alcohol using virtual-reality glasses to relate these effects to the number of road accidents, thus gaining a valuable learning experience.

•    Reaction rocket. The teams will learn the basic principles underlying the construction of a rocket powered by pressurised water, first to design it in the most efficient way possible and then to build it, all within a limited time period. The final stage is to launch the rocket within the safety area.

•    Robotics. In this activity, the students will programme a robot to complete an obstacle course. The first stage in the process will be taking the measurements to design the code they will be programming with. Then in the second stage, they will programme the code using their mobile phones and send the instructions to the robot. The aim is to get as far as possible around the obstacle course!

Now in its third edition, Fisidabo 2k is the event's longest-running activity, which this year will be held on 15 May. On this day, the Park will be opening its doors to over 2,000 4th-year and sixth-form science students, who will use the attractions to carry out various tests and experiments, specifically focused on Physics. During the session, over 80 UPC undergraduate students studying Engineering Physics, which is taught at the Barcelona Technical School of Telecommunications Engineering, will be taking part assisting with the progress of the various experiments, which has proven to be a mutually beneficial and positive experience for the secondary school pupils and the university students alike.
 
Fisidabo 2K also includes the Fisidabo Hipàtia project, named after Hypatia of Alexandria, the Greek philosopher and teacher. This educational project, which was launched in 2012 and is in its ninth edition this year, is rather more specialised and is geared towards International Baccalaureate students from the CELLEX Science and Mathematics programme. Also using the Park's attractions, the various teams of students will carry out experiments that they themselves have created and designed. On previous occasions, some of the projects tested by students in the Park have had an international impact and have even been published in the prestigious European Journal of Physics.

Along the same line, Tibidabo will also make these scientific activities available during the Fisidabo LabShow, a weekend when STEAM culture is brought to the general public. Everyone who visits the park will be able to take part in workshops and do different activities based on specific primary school curricular content.

International recognition

 
The STEAM activities have been recognised in various scientific, technological and educational areas at an international level. The Fisidabo 2K and the Visions projects: STEAM-Anella has won accolades in the ‘Physics and Society’ category of the ‘Science in Action’ awards, a nationwide competition for students, teachers, researchers and communicators in the scientific community. The main aim of these awards is to present science in an attractive, motivating way for young people and the general public.

‘Science and Action’ is a programme made up of universities and different scientific associations, including the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), the Lilly Foundation, the Institute of Mathematical Sciences, the Royal Spanish Society of Chemistry (RSEQ), the Royal Spanish Society of Astronomy, the Spanish Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, the Spanish Geological Society and the National University of Distance Education.

In 2015, the Fisidabo project also took part in ‘Science on Stage’, the international platform for educational initiatives that year held in London. Taking part in this event was key to keeping in touch with other similar initiatives that are being implemented all over Europe.

Furthermore, Fisidabo 2K also took part in Youth Mobile (YoMo), a festival organised in Barcelona by the Mobile World Congress, which is geared not only towards making science and technology accessible to students, but also towards education professionals.

Aquí STEAM and Enllaça, two UPC STEAM projects

These initiatives were the starting point for other strategic projects that are currently under way at UPC and aimed at encouraging STEAM vocations.

The first is called Enllaça, a volunteer programme that serves to connect compulsory secondary school, sixth-form education and the vocational training courses. It is designed to help the University community raise the profile of the degrees offered at UPC and to arouse a sense of vocation in the fields of engineering, architecture, science and technology, by means of various activities that include guided visits to laboratories and research centres, informative workshops, guidance and mentoring initiatives, and summer activities.
 
UPC's other initiative in this area is Aquí STEAM, a programme geared towards primary and compulsory secondary school students and aimed at attracting talented young women onto technology and engineering degrees. The initiative is designed to break down popular gender stereotypes and roles in society and to showcase new female role models in a way that is attractive and accessible to young women. During the current 2019-20 school year, a pilot programme has been implemented involving 28 primary and secondary schools around Catalonia, with a schedule of activities organised by UPC lecturers and researchers that includes talks and workshops.  

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