Sciencecalifragilistic! Education and science in the Champalimaud Foundation
First experimental session launched in the Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown.
“How should we foster the development of scientific reasoning and critical thought in high school students?” This was the question which began Sciencecalifragilistic, a scientific education project recently launched by a group of PhD students and postdocs from the Champalimaud Foundation’s Neuroscience Programme in Lisbon.
Sciencecalifragilistic was announced on January 31st as one of the projects chosen to receive finance as part of the “Choose Science” Programme, promoted by Ciência Viva – the National Agency for Scientific and Technological Culture. “This funding is not only an important recognition of this project, but will also be fundamental in the development of the activities which we are planning”, explained Catarina Ramos, responsible for coordinating this initiative.
In this first edition, the project began with a group of 12 students from two different high schools (Dona Luisa de Gusmão and Miraflores High School). Activities began in January with sessions in two schools and will continue throughout February and March in the Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown. In April and May the students, along with their school communities, will be invited to discuss the results of their work with researchers from the Champalimaud Neuroscience Programme.
“It was not easy to find a name for this project and we had to hold several rounds of voting. In the end, we thought that Sciencecalifragilistic, a tribute to Mary Poppins, was able to convey the fascination and magic which we associate with the moment of discovery”, explained Rodrigo Abril Abreu, one of the PhD students responsible for this project.
Sciencecalifragilistic will be a space for students to experiment with scientific methods – asking questions, creating hypotheses, conducting experiments, analysing results, drawing conclusions and, eventually, formulating new questions. For Maria Inês Vicente, one of the mentors involved in the project, the objective is to “encourage the resolution of problems. We do not want to just hand out recipes for these experiments, we want the students to ask their own questions and find ways in which to respond.”