- Palestine, Bethlehem / West Bank
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The project aims at engaging kids and young students in science through a playful approach in areas of the world where science is not felt at all as a part of everyday life. To make the project sustainable, a group of students of the Science Department of Bethlehem University, most of them female, have been trained as science communicators. Together with a network of organizations, Science4People approach schools to develop new science learning.
The project aims at sensitizing kids/young students towards the theme of science through a ludic approach in areas of the world where science was not felt at all as a part of everyday life.
For this reason, a group of Students of the Science Department of Bethlehem University have been formed as Science Communicators, learning how to adapt a message to a different audience, different ages, different scolarisation levels. Interestingly the great majority of the university students involved are female. Science4People also aims at building a network of schools developing a common approach in the way in which science is communicated. Such a network is then connected to the Science4People group, made by students of the Science Department of Bethlehem University that leads the dissemination project. Science school teachers belonging to the schools that have been reached by the project have then joined the team after reaching a formation. At the same time, (at this stage two) Mediterranean Universities – the university of Beni Mellal in Morocco and the University of Bethlehem - have been connected, their scientific disseminators received a common training, and common strategies to interact with schools and involve the students into the sensitization process are currently being developed in partnership between the two groups.
The group is increasing year by year the network of schools, thus reaching continuously new schools in new areas. To do that the number of members participating to the group is growing year by year
Big science dissemination events opened to the public in the main cities are being organized so that a wider audience is possible, even outside of the schools.
Undergraduate students from the university are trained through hands-on workshops on tinkering strategies, inquiry-based activities, sociometric games, science fair simulations and many other innovative ways of learning how to become facilitators in outreach events. They have to learn how to vehicle the same message using different approaches based on the different target audience.
Teachers and older students from high schools are trained by Science4People to let their students/ junior mates learn by experience, trying to set up experiments and reaching independently a theory.
During the science fairs, the events are open to the whole population through an interactive approach, using analogies with everyday life of a grownup and showing topics that are particularly important for a region in which drinking water and electricity are scarce.
Some members of the Science4People team attended a 10 days training in Italy on 3D printing and on the running of a Fablab. The aim is to open a Fablab in Bethlehem, so that people can learn the process of identify a need, designing a project, and obtain a manufact to solve the problem.
Firstly, the project has been started and funded by the NGO Sunshine4Palestine, through a permanent collaboration with the University of Bethlehem. Later, the project broadened the funding opportunities, thanks to the establishment of a EPS-YM section in Bethlehem. The section yearly apply and win the “EPS-YM special activity fund” grant, offered by EPS to support original projects. Thanks to a collaboration between the International Centre for Theoretical Physics of Trieste (ICTP), Sunshine4Palestine and EPS Physics for Development, fundings have been collected to train part of the Science4People team on 3D printing, with the aim of opening a Fablab (Fabrication Laboratory open to the general public) in Bethlehem (the project is still ongoing). Finally, crowdfundings and donations sustained the project.
The team visited many of the schools in villages in the area of Bethlehem and in the West Bank, where there were no scientific events. The team built a network with the schools rendering possible a direct contact between the team and teachers/students prior and after the event, to keep a continuous know-how transfer process.
The team made the first Science Fair that was open to the public in Palestine. Such an event, that took place in the main municipality building in Bethlehem, has been attended by more than 2000 people, mainly children and families from every city of the West Bank. After the event the team has been contacted by many other schools.
The senior scholars and the teachers have been involved in training for becoming themselves science disseminators. They learned new skills, strategies, and ways to deal with kids and to rephrase the scientific message to render it accessible to the audience. They then became responsible for organizing science dissemination programs in their schools, with the support of the team.
The project uses science as a mean of empowerment in one of the most unstable areas in the world, where children know violence and uncertainty about the future. The continuous exchange between the team and the audience (kids/scholars of different ages and scolarisation levels) rendered the scientific dissemination process into a two-way process. As the team would say: “We learn from kids and students as much as they learn from us.”
Having to deal with students of different age, the team had to rephrase both knowledge and scientific ideas so that it is accessible and interesting for the audience. This was done by developing a manifold of scientific experiments that through a ludic approach, brought a wide and very young audience to get in touch with science.
Marginalized areas, such as villages and schools sited in very poor areas of the west bank, are the principal target of the team. Students from extreme social and economic background, have then the opportunity to make new experiences, to be exposed to a new and different concept of education by playing, practicing and trying to do things with their own hands.
It is a good opportunity for all the members to have such volunteering work, to improve their knowledge and to get new experiences.
The project use science as a mean of empowerment in one of the most unstable areas in the world, where children know violence and uncertainty about the future. Students from extreme social and economical background, have then the opportunity to make new experiences, to be exposed to a new and different concept of education by playing, practicing and trying to do things with their own hands.
The Science4People team applies modern didactical methods, such as inquiry-based learning and tinkering. The team members are facilitators and learning becomes a discovery process conducted together with the public. The scientific concepts are never taught, they are discovered through an inquiry-based learning, thus enhancing the curiosity and stimulating critical thinking. The aim is not to give answers, but to involve the public, inspire curiosity, built confidence and formulate hypothesis in a safe, relaxed environment. The facilitator faces the challenge to establish a trust relationship with the public, so that people can feel confident in expressing their own theories and observations via a co-creation process. The experiments selected for the events can be reproduced at home with everyday material, and they are also done by the public. The students can play with the materials, assemble and perform the experiment, so that they can experience themselves the process of setting up the experiment, observing the phenomena and formulate a theory. In such a way, the Science4People team strives a trust relationship with the students, encourages decision-making and active participation, sustains the development of critical thinking and favors learner empowerment.
It is particularly outstanding the great variety of different approaches combined in a single project, needed to involve in people with varioust education levels and social backgrounds. It requires an extended plethora of different approaches and training for the various aims.
- Training of Undergraduate students from the university.
- Training teachers from the schools to flip the standard education strategies used in the classroom.
- Older students from high schools are asked to become facilitators in their schools and support the events.
- During the science fairs adults with low education levels are stimulated through an interactive approach.
All those aspects are combined in a single project, reaching communities with different backgrounds and/or living conditions. The interdisciplinary nature of the experiments helps to find topics interesting for various targets, from young children to grownup, from refugee camps to well-off families. The project is structured to be inclusive and modular, growing every year and learning by the experience of the people joining the team.
A particular innovative aspect is the training on 3D printing.
All experiments are designed in order to be repeated at home, with everyday life materials. Wherever possible, the students are asked to perform the experiments by themselves, with the support of the Science4People team. The events are hands-on workshops, where the students can play with the materials, try different set-ups and understand the operating principles by means of experience. The team of facilitators encourages the active participation and asks questions to the students, so that they can take their own time to develop a personal understanding of the principles and be able to repeat independently the experiment at home. In such a way, the student acquires the skills necessary to repeat the same experiment in a different context, so that the learning process can be extended to everyday life, bringing at home the curiosity and fascination of science.
Team members learn how to deal with students of different ages and how to transform the science concepts for them in an easy and interesting way. On the other hand, the students learn the science concepts in a simple way and this helps them to Link between the experiments and its scientific analysis.
Inclusiveness is one of the most important aspects of the project. Bethlehem is a city where a variety of different cultures and religions live side by side. The Science4People team has been established on the solely base of the personal interest for science and outreach, regardless of social background, gender, religion, national origin or any other aspect that can discriminate groups of people. As a result, the team collects the experience from a broad variety of different cultures and shows how the differences can be used to enrich the group. The collaboration among the team and with people coming from different countries (Sunshine4Palestine members and EPS) is a great example of cooperation and inclusiveness, since everybody is encouraged to participate bringing his/her own original contribution as a result of his/her personal background and experience. No discrimination is tolerated and special care is taken in establishing a supportive, stimulating and safe environment. By looking at the team, the students of the schools can learn the importance of inclusion and the value of cooperation.
Additionally, the selection of the schools, including both private and public schools, underlines the inclusiveness of the project. The network reaches areas of Bethlehem marginalized and/or where the access to science and higher education is difficult.
The experiments for the schools include the fields of Chemistry, Biology, Physics and Technology.
The Science4People team joints graduates from all STEM disciplines, who bring their original contribution to the project.
Experiments touch many scientific fields, such as Science (Chemistry, Biology, Physics) and Technology.
We have good cooperation in our team between the team members. We also have good cooperation with the university and the schools we visit.
Local schools, local teachers and students are involved and different social background of the various areas are taken into account in the way in which the activities are developed. When possible, students of more advanced classes (middle to high schools) are trained into scientific disseminators themselves, and they become responsible for the training of the younger students over a wider period of time. The group also worked in a refugee camp, where the needs of the kids involved (energy shortages) were addressed by learning through a ludic approach, how to build photovoltaic lamps.
During the event, by the team leader, school teachers, and school heads.
Before and after the event, by the team leader and all the members, the supervisor.
We've good cooperation in our team with the team members, the university, and the schools.
We also have good cooperation with the EPS and the Sunshine4Palestion which always support us!
For standard events in schools, the collaboration with the teachers is fundamental for the creation of the node in the network of schools which benefit from the project and for the realization of the event. In particular, a group of teachers has been trained by the Science4Paople team, so that they became facilitators for themselves, spreading the outreach practices and supporting the events.
In special events, such as the science fair open to general public, the municipality of Bethlehem acts as external partner, providing the venue of the event (the Peace Center, a museum of the city that can host hundreds of people at once) and enhancing the communication through local and national media.
The group creates a link both with students as well as with the teachers of the schools involved in the project. This allowed to build, on the one hand a network of schools, and in the other hand, students are in continuous contact with the team that supports them in their own independent initiatives such as the creation of science open day in the schools. The project also created a link between Bethlehem University and all schools involved.
The team members are university students and graduates. Each year the team organizes a forming event and recruits new members.
Yes, school teachers and students reused our activities and experiments by doing their own science fairs and they passed it onto their colleagues (we noticed that the scientific exhibitions increased in schools). The motivation of teachers is that they use the practical side to transfer information to the student and link it to the theoretical side.
In addition, in the last year, many schools were asking us to visit them. Which is such new for us because we used to ask the school if we could visit them.