BIST Community professionals participate in the design of science education projects

By March 31, 2023BIST Community

Nearly 30 people from the BIST Community have collaborated this trimester in the design and implementation of science education projects with teachers and students from the Angeleta Ferrer Secondary School.

As the school trimester comes to an end, so do the STEAM projects the first- and second-year high school students at Angeleta Ferrer have been working on. Though the students might not be aware of it, they are enrolled in a rather special school, one that is also a centre for innovation in science education and training for teachers in STEAM disciplines, possible in part through a collaboration with BIST. In the last three months, and as part of their curricular activities, the students have been working on STEAM projects, learning about science by doing it, accompanied by their teachers and by BIST Community researchers and outreach professionals.

Getting to know the scientists

The 81 first- year ESO students have been discovering what it means to be a scientist, and have formulated scientific questions, designed experiments to solve them, and communicated their results in poster format in front of families, teachers and researchers.

Divided into small groups, the students visited either IBEC, IFAE or IRB Barcelona and conducted interviews with researchers, such as Jonás Chaves-Montero, a postdoctoral researcher who joined IFAE a few months ago, and  Anna Bartomeu, a PhD student at IRB Barcelona.

“I had a great time talking with a group of six students who asked me about my research in cosmology but also about my hobbies and background. They were surprised to learn that I have worked in many different places and knew more than I imagined about black holes! I wish I had had an experience like this one when I was younger, since I had no idea about what it meant to be a scientist until I was in the last years of university,” explained Chaves-Montero.

“The small group of students had prepared the visit to our laboratory very well, they were able to understand concepts of mRNA translation to proteins and did a lot of questions. I noticed that the teacher, Míriam, was also very knowledgeable about the topic and was very good at motivating the students,” explains Bartomeu, who is in the last year of her PhD.

Jonás Chaves-Montero (left) and Anna Bartomeu (right) at IFAE and IRB Barcelona, respectively

The students have also learned how to script and shoot a video interview as a result of this project.

Addressing sustainability from different perspectives

The 61 Angeleta Ferrer second-year ESO students worked on a project called “Pollution”, which allowed them to learn about contamination and tools and practices to reduce it. For this project, they counted with professionals from ICFO, ICN2 and ICIQ.

One of the project aims was to study the pollution around the institute’s premises and learn how to reduce it. For this, the students, advised by the researchers, constructed CO2 sensors and also collected data for temperature and particles in the air. In parallel, the students reviewed online resources to learn pollution reduction measures that could be applied to the institute’s surroundings. With this knowledge in hand, they produced a leaflet which was then presented to families, researchers and representatives from the Barcelona City Council during an event at the Saló del Tinell, an historical gothic hall in Barcelona.

Thanks to the visits at either ICFO, ICN2 or ICIQ, the students learnt about different research projects that develop technologies aimed at having a greener planet. Beatriu Domingo, PhD student at ICIQ, was one of the BIST Community professionals who became involved in this project.

“We received a group of students at ICIQ to show them the laboratories and introduce them to our work in the development of dye sensitised solar cells for the production of energy. A week later, we went to the Angeleta Ferrer Institute to do a workshop in which the students constructed their own solar cells using natural dyes extracted from vegetables,” explains Domingo. “I had never been in a high school that works like Angeleta, and I really enjoyed the experience,” she adds.

Beatriu Domingo at ICIQ (left) and the Angeleta Ferrer and BIST communities at the Saló del Tinell during the project presentations (right)

New STEAM Programme in the upcoming school courses

To develop these two STEAM projects, the teachers worked hand-in-hand with BIST Community outreach staff and researchers. Both projects have allowed students to learn scientific concepts as well as to understand how science is done by experiencing the process themselves and getting to know researchers from the BIST Community. As the Angeleta Ferrer Institute grows in numbers (next year it will host students from the first to third ESO grade), the number of STEAM projects and their complexity will also grow.

With the objective of training teachers from other Catalan secondary institutes in STEAM learning, the Catalan Government approved the STEAM Programme at Angeleta Ferrer this week. The programme, which will start in the 2023-2024 school year, provides the tools to structure the secondary school educative action at the Angeleta Ferrer Institute with teacher training, educational innovation, and research in science didactics.