Laia Gómez-Franco Estrella: “We need to generate new inclusive narratives to endow images with new meanings”

Laia Gómez-Franco Estrella: “We need to generate new inclusive narratives to endow images with new meanings”

About fifty people from universities in countries such as Belgium, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Slovakia, England, Hungary, Sweden and Spain, and linked to the fields of research, science and education attended the workshop “Critical image analysis of inclusive science education in the media”, on 8 November. This workshop is part of the European “Communities for Sciences – Towards project promoting an inclusive approach in science education” (C4S), led by Fundació Universitària del Bages (FUB), whose aim is to work with communities at risk of vulnerability and promote engagement in inclusive science education.

The objective of the first block of the workshop was to promote critical reflection in the context of decolonisation, on the role of education in the construction of equitable and inclusive societies. Isidora Saez Rosenkranz, Laura van der Reijden, Diana Reinoso, Sheddad Kaid Salah, and Andrea Cerroni come from different nationalities and families, ethnic and cultural backgrounds, were the main speakers at the round table.

The second part of the session focused on “the power of photography to generate new real and inclusive narratives, replacing the hegemonic narrative”, according to Laia Gómez-Franco Estrella, responsible for educational projects of RUIDO Photo.

The main conclusions drawn from the workshop will serve as a starting point for the future guide on Inclusive Science Education of the C4S project.

Kristina Orban:  “Having an intense focus on justice for minorities is valuable and an essential prerequisite for the social practice of science”

Kristina Orban: “Having an intense focus on justice for minorities is valuable and an essential prerequisite for the social practice of science”

Kristina Orban (PhD) is a lecturer and researcher at the Department of Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, Lund University, with a research focus on Family-centred health promotion interventions. In this interview Kristina Orban talks about the challenge of awakening an interest in science among children and families in vulnerable situations.  

What is your background and what is for you more interesting about this Inclusive Science Education approach? How did you go about making yourself an expert in ISE? 

My background is 30 years of experience from working with children with special needs. I have worked specifically with children with neurological disorders, neurodevelopmental disorders, and children with obesity. Inclusive education and equal play opportunities are some of my areas of interest. All children have a right to participate in playful learning activities as it underpins well-being, health, and development.

A child with special needs can add an appreciable extra amount of stress into family systems. How family members organize their time, engage in daily activities, and interact with one another vary from one family to the next and on the socioeconomic spectrum. Parents who experience stress because there are too many things to be done and not enough time for play and co-occupations in the family may need support.

What is the origin of the cooperation between Lund University and the C4S project? What is your role in the project?

I have experience from being the project lead in an Erasmus + funded initiative entitled ‘Making Internationalisation a Reality for Occupational Therapy Students’ (MIROTS). Through MIROTS, Lund University (Sweden), University of Southampton (UK), and the National University of Ireland, Galway, (Ireland), collaborated to develop the skills of emerging occupational therapy practitioners in negotiating, partnering, and advocating for the rights of socially excluded groups in European society. In the final year of the Erasmus project, we invited University of Vic (Spain) to participate with our students. The main educational goals were to develop a deeper understanding of occupational (in)justice within each of the host institution’s local community, while acknowledging and seeking understanding of diversity and culture in daily practice and the professional responsibilities to create inclusive societies for all.

My role in the C4S project is mainly research and acting as a discussion partner together with project coordinators and other participating institutions, in an effort to generate transformative learning between educators and researchers.    

Could you briefly explain what is for you relevant regarding the notions of diversity, equity, and inclusion and indicate how they might relate to one another in the C4S project? Which do you consider to be the most important for people and organizations to focus on and why?  

I think community-based participatory methods in science education is an urgent issue to empower children and families in vulnerable situations. When it comes to science, many children, especially those who belong to so-called vulnerable communities are left behind. So, to achieve equity on all levels, it is relevant to promote co-created inclusive science education with and for local communities. Having an intense focus on justice for minorities is valuable and an essential prerequisite for the social practice of science. 

And what can you say about the role of children in processes of inclusion? Can we say that the child’s view is the most inclusive of all?

To empower children and to promote Inclusive Science Education is an ongoing process aimed at offering quality education for all while respecting diversity and eliminating all forms of discrimination. I think if children shall experience inclusion and be able to participate in learning and playful activities, we must involve children in planning and decision that regards them. When learning a new skill or being motivated to participate in a new activity we must look for “just right challenge” that empower every child to be able to grow and learn. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lyudmyla Kokorina: “The best way to contribute to enhancing of inclusive education is to continue to roll out inclusive education at all stages of education and involve more people in its implementation”

Lyudmyla Kokorina: “The best way to contribute to enhancing of inclusive education is to continue to roll out inclusive education at all stages of education and involve more people in its implementation”

Since last June, Lyudmyla Kokorina is part of the “Communities for Sciences – Towards promoting an inclusive approach in science education” (C4S) project as a research assistant through the European Commission’s Horizon for Ukraine programme. Lyudmyla has a PhD in “General Pedagogy and History of Pedagogy” and worked in Horlivka Institute for Foreign Languages of State Higher Educational Institution Donbas State Pedagogical University since 2007.

How and why were you incorporated in the “Communities for Sciences – Towards promoting an inclusive approach in science education” (C4S) project?
I wish I knew the exact answer. Probably, it’s just the very moment when everything centred and focused on the project and me forming a part of it. The situation in Ukraine forced me to leave home for the second time and go abroad searching for safety. And thus, become one of the millions of Ukrainian job-seekers. Later, the project coordinators read my CV, appointed an interview, and made their decision. And now I’m being interviewed as a new member of the C4S team. I think that my professional competencies and work experience can add to the project and bring a view from a new perspective. All C4S members have proved to be a great team in creating, supporting, and promoting tools for successful Inclusive Science education at all social levels.

Did you know about the C4S project before?
Frankly speaking, I didn’t know about the project before. But now I’m glad to be a part of it since I had some experience with non-discrimination education and inclusiveness. Together with the students, we practised research tools on the social attitude towards inclusion in Ukrainian schools.

What do you do as a research assistant at C4S? Is it like what you did in your country?
The tasks are rather different but very interesting. First, I had to learn some more about the idea and details of the project by studying articles and opinion essays about the research area. And then I naturally joined the observations and further activities of data collecting and processing. Considering my work in Ukraine I was more involved in the daily routine of institutional administrating and teaching classes. And my research area was mainly from the perspective of foreign language teaching and comparative pedagogy.

You are an expert in Pedagogy. How do you think we can contribute to the improvement of educational inclusion processes in the classroom?
I never considered myself to be an expert, but what I believe is that a person should never cease doing good things. Therefore, the best way to contribute to enhancing inclusive education is to continue rolling out inclusive education at all stages of education and involving more people in its implementation. Luckily, I had the possibility to observe inclusive science education “in action”. Now I’m sure that it really functions because when a teacher inspires his/her pupils, they strive for knowledge and discoveries. Just like in my favourite quote from William Arthur Ward: “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”

Early Childhood Education students from the Erasmushogeschool Brussel visit UManresa, attracted by the University’s scientific educational programmes

Early Childhood Education students from the Erasmushogeschool Brussel visit UManresa, attracted by the University’s scientific educational programmes

A group of 29 people, comprising 26 students of the bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education and 3 teachers from the Erasmushogeschool Brussel are visiting UManresa to learn about the experience of the Faculty of Social Sciences of the Manresa campus of the UVic-UCC in the field of scientific education in early educational stages. The group of students and teachers are interested in learning about the different initiatives promoted by UManresa regarding both the creation of facilities dedicated to science as well as STEM activities in general. In addition to visiting UManresa’s Lab 0_6 and the new Upetita nursery school in the new FUB4 – UManresa Education building, future teachers will take advantage of their stay in Catalonia to find out about other experiences in this field, such as kindergartens, unique schools and the Science Nest of the Natural Sciences Museum of Barcelona, among others.

Apart from the interest the students have in discovering UManresa’s experience in scientific education at an early age, the visit also forms part of the institutional relationship between the Manresa campus and the Belgian university. The objective of the two institutions is for this type of visit to be carried out every year, so that a group of Belgian students can visit Manresa and that UManresa students can also travel to Brussels.

Upon arrival at UManresa, accompanied by the teacher of the Degree in Early Childhood Education, Gabriel Lemkow Tobias, the group was received in the Assembly Hall of the main building by Sílvia Mas Sañé, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences of Manresa and vice-rector of the Manresa campus of the UVic-UCC. The group has also participated in a meeting with students of the degree in Early Childhood Education of UManresa.

Jullieth Suárez Guevara: “when I was at school, I missed working on project basis”

Jullieth Suárez Guevara: “when I was at school, I missed working on project basis”

You are an expert in Materials Science. When, how and why did you decided to go into this research field?

Since I was a child, I knew that I would study a scientific career. I chose chemistry because I have always been curious to know the composition/structure of things and because I dreamed of being in a laboratory. Already in the career, I was captivated by a professor who taught the subject of electrochemistry, so I did the degree project in this area. When I finished my chemistry degree, I wanted to continue my specialization in electrochemistry, but I did not want to work in a basic chemical science, I was more interested to find out a direct application to society. Consequently, my doctoral thesis project was focused on the study of new materials obtained from environmentally friendly processes for application as electrodes in energy storage devices. In conclusion, I think it has been the convergence of good decisions and finding excellent and positive people in my professional development career.

Which were your references when you decided to get into Materials Science Research? Which people influences you most? In which ways?

I have had several references during my scientific career, but the most relevant have been my professor of electrochemistry when I was studying chemistry and my doctoral thesis directors. All three have taught me passion and respect for science, to be methodical, rigorous, and persevering with research, to learn from mistakes and not to see them as failures, but as achievements that lead us to the discovery of new knowledge.
I also want to mention my lab mates and colleges, all of them taught me teamwork, to learn to ask for help when needed and to listen to constructive criticism that allows you to improve your work.

Now you are dealing with research management. How important is management in the whole research process?

A research project is a teamwork, where everyone has its own responsibilities, and everyone supports each other to achieve together the main goal. Our duty in the research management is the link between the researchers and the funding institution and the management of the center where the project is developed. A project manager has to provide support to the rest of the team to complete the assigned tasks within the established deadline, maintain efficient communication with the management of the center and the funding institution, supervise and control the expenses of the assigned budget, among others.

What do you do as coordinator of the PECT BAGESS?

In the PECT BAGESS project, I participate in the planning, execution, and supervision of the assigned tasks: the monitoring of the progress of these tasks and assure that they are executed according to the established schedule; the control of the expenses within the assigned budget; the interaction with the rest of the partners of the participating institutions; the communication of the progress of the project to the rest of the partners and the search for new projects related to the objectives of the PECT BAGESS.

How did you experience learning science in school? What did you like most? Did you miss anything? Did you find yourself represented with the science referents you had at your disposal?

Honestly, I don’t remember how I learnt science at school, the memories I have are from my teachers at the school and me reading textbooks. I suppose there were activities that encouraged my critical thinking and the development of curiosity. In relation to science learning I found a lot of things missing such as working on project basis, letting me explore my qualities and discovering the world on my own way and not through hours and hours of books. I don’t want to say that this was wrong, but it could have been more balanced or done in another way.
Nevertheless, my childhood was spent in a scientific world, since I was lucky enough to be born in a family that gave great importance to this type of education. From my grandparents, my parents and aunties educated me through exploration and self-discovery, through play. I remember afternoons in the kitchen with my grandmothers handling or preparing food, measuring, observing, and participating in the whole process of making a meal. With my parents, having to solve treasure maps or overcome mental challenges to achieve what I wanted. But the most special was with my aunties, biologists by profession, with them everything was about experiments, tests to prove hypotheses that they put forward, my first visit to a university laboratory and many other things. I had excellent family references that complemented the education I received at school.

Talking with/about Giocheria Laboratori

Talking with/about Giocheria Laboratori

What role does GiocheriaLaboratori play in the C4S Project?
In the Project GiocheriaLaboratori (sestosg.net/servizi/giocherialaboratori) is one of the Living Labs of the HUB Milano, that brings together the two Italian partners of C4S (University of Milano-Bicocca and the Municipality of Sesto San Giovanni, Socio-Educational Sector). It is an educational service, that aims to stimulate and grow children’s learning and creativity by designing and implementing inclusive and non-formal scientific laboratories. It offers consultation and pedagogical supervision to the schools carrying out pilot laboratories within the project and holds, with the support of the Bicocca University, Action-Training-Research courses to teachers and educators interested in Inclusive Science Education.

When was GiocheriaLaboratori born and who is it aimed at?
GiocheriaLaboratori was founded in 1987 as a permanent educational laboratory in the centre of Sesto San Giovanni, Via Tonale 40. It is a public space for children, teachers and educators of all kindergartens and primary schools (aged between 3 and 11 years) in the Municipality and the surrounding areas. It was opened in prefabs that also housed some primary school classes; after their demolition, the participatory design of architects and pedagogists gave rise to a new structure, the current one, where Giocheria still shares the space with Piccoli&Grandi (a service for families with children from 0 to 3 years old).
The space is surrounded by a wide garden which allow a rich dialogue between inside and outside, offering opportunities and ideas for outdoor educational games and experiences.

What are the characteristics of your proposals to schools?
Over the years, the Giocheria’s team deepened and tested the pedagogical approaches and the most useful educational laboratory settings that can enable children to discover autonomously and self-check different scientific phenomena. Through systematic study, reflection and documentation, the staff shaped a model for carrying out scientific laboratories that tries to complete children’s school curricula with opportunities for a hands-on approach to science, particularly physics. Indeed, this type of laboratories allows children to explore directly different scientific subjects, such as light, astronomy, mathematics, forces and balances, earth and living things, materials.
Giocheria also provides teacher training: indeed, one of the goals is to pass down curiosity and motivation to teachers and educators in order to carry out in school contexts experiences of a direct and continuous approach to the phenomena studied by science. This type of training also aims to increase the skills of teachers and educators in designing inclusive scientific settings.

What is the special feature of your laboratory design?
Our main feature is to build ad hoc materials rather than buying already structured ones on the market, because this allows for greater flexibility in the proposals. The design of the science laboratories involves the operators in the search for suitable materials to set up spaces that promote exploration activities. The large quantity and variety of materials made available to children changes the approach to the experience and implies a relevant and unusual involvement at different levels: emotional (curiosity and amazement), exploratory (touching, using, trying) and cognitive (building knowledge). These materials are also found thanks to the contribution of local craftsmen and companies who provide us with manufacturing waste, which is reused in an original and aesthetically pleasing way.

How has Giocheria’s proposal changed in the last period?
In 2020 GiocheriaLaboratori experienced many changes, mainly due to two factors: the participation in the C4S Project and the impact the COVID-19 pandemic had on the world of education. The pandemic situation and solicitation received from C4S for creating Community Living Labs in our territory led to a redefinition of “contractual arrangements” with the schools and the laboratory proposal was reshaped: the schools themselves were involved in co-designing and carrying out the scientific laboratories at their premises, redesigning the learning settings focusing on the access to science for all children.
In this framework, the daily sharing and the Action-Training-Research initiatives represent moments of particular importance: Giocheria’s proposals always take on meaning as part of a systematic approach to the school and educational experiences. The focus is on how to involve all children, including those with disabilities and special educational needs, in scientific knowledge and learning pathways.

What experiences of sharing and co-design with the territory characterized the service?
As already stated above, the fulfillment of the current structure is the result of participatory co-planning. Furthermore, for years GiocheriaLaboratori relies on the invaluable collaboration of a group of parents, the GruppoGenitoriGiocheria, with which many initiatives and laboratories for families are planned and implemented. Over the years, there have been various forms of collaboration and shared planning in the field of Science Education with many external stakeholders and social actors in the area (such as voluntary associations and services within and outside the Municipal administration).
Within C4S, the proposals directly addressed to teachers, educators and children were complemented by a series of collateral activities aimed at spreading knowledge of the project’s themes, values and activities throughout the territory, in particular involving families, local associations and policy-makers.