14/02/2020

Fòrum was turned into a STEAM experimental centre for over 2,000 compulsory secondary education and sixth-form pupils

The students were able to experiment with different activities and acquire knowledge about various subjects, including Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Technology and Mathematics  

The session was organised by B:SM (Barcelona de Serveis Municipals), UPC’s Barcelona East Engineering School and Science 360, as part of a huge educational project

Visions – STEAM Fòrum is part of a much wider-reaching project that is testimony to the city's commitment to promoting STEAM culture, which will make Barcelona a hub for scientific-education innovation

The first edition of Visions – STEAM Fòrum was held today. This is an educational session for which the Fòrum was turned into an experiential park for 2,087 4th-year and sixth-form pupils from 42 different secondary schools. The students were able to carry out a series of activities associated with STEAM culture, an educational concept formed by the acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics, and referring to all educational initiatives that interrelate these subjects.
 
It is a joint project run by B:SM (Barcelona de Serveis Municipals), the Polytechnic University of Catalonia · BarcelonaTech (UPC), the UPC's Barcelona East School of Engineering (EEBE) and Science 360, which aims to provide students with knowledge in a flexible, accessible way, contributing creativity and innovation, but based on rigorously scientific principles. Not only does this help to keep the students motivated, but it also takes the social aspect of the learning experience into account.

Most of the Visions – STEAM Fòrum tests were thought up and designed by EEBE and UPC students, who also acted as assistants during the session, and were accompanied by Luis Carlos Pardo, a lecturer from UPC's Department of Physics, who is the coordinator of the initiative. It is therefore a session made by and for students, thus achieving an accessibility that further encourages the learning experience.
 
Using a cross-cutting approach, subjects which are difficult to explain inside the classroom due to their level of complexity were chosen, transforming them so that they could be explained in a more fun and entertaining way. In addition to promoting scientific and technological culture, the activities provided multi-disciplinary perspectives on a given subject, creating a dialogue between scientific methods and creative processes.
Visions – STEAM Fòrum hopes to repeat the success of Visions – STEAM Anella, which is holding its second edition on 2 April. Both sessions are part of a larger educational project, which together with Fisadabo 2K are testimony to the city's commitment to promoting STEAM culture and making Barcelona a hub for scientific-educational innovation.

15 experiments for five areas of knowledge

At the start of the session, all the students received a map showing the location of each experiment, which helped them move around the park freely and monitor the activities they were doing. The experiments were based on the curricular content of physics, chemistry, technology, biology and mathematics. The starting point for each of them was a story, which was later proactively added to by the pupils, which helped them to understand and internalise the concepts explained.  

There were three experiments to do with Biology. First, the pupils learnt about the conductivity of materials through measuring the amount of salt in a cucumber and extrapolating the experience to the human body, and they also played the ‘ribosome game’, forming proteins and discovering how to analyse DNA.

For Chemistry, the pupils were able to determine the specific heat of various objects to try to find out what they were made of. They measured the acidity of a liquid by neutralising hydroxide ions, experimented with the electroplating of materials, and identified all the chemical processes involved in making everyday dishes like fried eggs and in some more complex processes such as the spherification of olive oil.

The subject of physics was represented by an experiment involving archery, where students measured the speed of an arrow using a ballistic pendulum and applying the concepts of trigonometry.  Music was also explored with the aim of understanding electric instruments such as the Theremin, and to see how this device, which was invented over 100 years ago, can play music without being touched. What's more, the laws of refraction and reflection were applied to releasing a laser beam from a labyrinth.
 
The experiments created to explain the mathematical concepts approached the subject though play, with a trigonometric gymkhana designed to show how this type of function can be applied to everyday objects, with pupils also solving enigmas and carefully measuring angles and distances. The pupils turned pixels into a human screen to learn the graphic characteristics of some functions, and they discovered a branch of mathematics called ‘game theory’.

The fifth subject area was Technology. The students designed paper aeroplanes to quantify the effects of their own designs, discovering the function of an accelerometer through dance and playing Pilla-Pilla 2.0 to check how antibiotics and microbes fight. In this STEAM version of the game, the data was also used to carry out a macro-experiment on everyone who played.

The dance activity, presented by the astrophysicist Glòria Sala, a lecturer in UPC's Department of Physics, and the dancer Sara Hernández, was designed to bring together in one activity two worlds traditionally considered to be female and male dominated (dance and technology, respectively), also serving to work on gender equality.  

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