The project “SiS Catalyst – children as change agents for science in society” (a EU funded project involving 20 partners from 16 countries for 4 years) is analysing the interrelationships between science  communication practices and social inclusion, focusing on children perspective. If on one hand science is undeniably offering opportunities to overcome forms of oppression and exclusion, on the other hand the science education pathways can be implicitly at  the origin of discriminatory process. In fact, it has been observed that a solid structured form of knowledge such as science can be perceived very differently by children with a higher socio economic level (for whom science can be an opportunity of success) and those coming from disadvantaged areas or local minorities (for whom science can be mainly an instrument of selection for progression into higher education, and something that strengthen the separation between a future “for them” and a future “for me”). It has then been hypothesised that a way to break this correlation is through empowering actions, that is, providing a space, an audience and an impact for listening to children in science in society activities involving them. SiS Catalyst analysed selected case studies of models of interaction between children and science (for example, science festivals, children universities, science museums, media for children, etc.), identifying where and when children voice is taken into account, and where and when (and possibly why), on the contrary, a dialogue cannot occur, and children are de facto passive and unheard. A series of training workshops modules were developed and are currently being tested in 5 countries, focusing on children, scientists and science  communication activity organisers respectively. These workshops are intended to provide reflections and practical tools on how to empower children in their relationship with science, helping them to progress toward a sense of ownership of scientific knowledge, that is, to see science as a tool to build the world they would like to live in. A training toolkit on these issues will be edited in 2014. At the PCST 2012 conference, we presented a paper with a plan of action for this project. Two years later, we propose a session that aims not simply at reporting on the progress made, but to pose what have been identified as fundamental questions, to the PCST participants, including some Brazilian experiences, thus widening and localizing the Siscatalyst horizons. Three short presentations will open the round table: Matteo Merzagora (Traces, Paris France), leader of the SiS catalyst action on listening and empowering children, will introduce the concepts, the training schemes and the results of the evaluation of these trainings. Raul Araujo (Independent consultant and Mudança de Cena, São Paulo, Brazil), who contributed to the understanding of exclusion mechanisms, will present the approach used with children and training organisers and science explainers, based on theatre of the oppressed approach, adapted to a science in society perspetive. Camille Breton (Association Paris Montagne) will present the results of various empowering activities carried out as part of the Science Académie programme targetting teenagers who are least likely to enrol in higher education, as well as their impact on the reflection of what social inclusion should and should not be. After 3 short presentations setting the theme, a discussion will be launched. Can ensuring that children voices  are heard and acted upon trigger institutional changes? That is, can it help science communication contribute to a more inclusive society? This session will complement the session “Science communication to/with children and teen: facing the challenges of diversity and social inclusion”, proposed by Débora d’Ávila Reis. In fact, these two sessions tackle the same core issue - participation and empowerement in science in society activities involving children - from two different perspectives (The children university perspective and the listening and empowering training schemes).

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 [PCST]
PCST Network

Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Empowering children
Crossing the science and society and the social inclusion agendas

Matteo Merzagora   TRACES, France

Raul Araujo   Mudança de Cena, Brazil

Camille Breton   Association Paris Montagne, France

The project “SiS Catalyst – children as change agents for science in society” (a EU funded project involving 20 partners from 16 countries for 4 years) is analysing the interrelationships between science  communication practices and social inclusion, focusing on children perspective. If on one hand science is undeniably offering opportunities to overcome forms of oppression and exclusion, on the other hand the science education pathways can be implicitly at  the origin of discriminatory process. In fact, it has been observed that a solid structured form of knowledge such as science can be perceived very differently by children with a higher socio economic level (for whom science can be an opportunity of success) and those coming from disadvantaged areas or local minorities (for whom science can be mainly an instrument of selection for progression into higher education, and something that strengthen the separation between a future “for them” and a future “for me”). It has then been hypothesised that a way to break this correlation is through empowering actions, that is, providing a space, an audience and an impact for listening to children in science in society activities involving them. SiS Catalyst analysed selected case studies of models of interaction between children and science (for example, science festivals, children universities, science museums, media for children, etc.), identifying where and when children voice is taken into account, and where and when (and possibly why), on the contrary, a dialogue cannot occur, and children are de facto passive and unheard. A series of training workshops modules were developed and are currently being tested in 5 countries, focusing on children, scientists and science  communication activity organisers respectively. These workshops are intended to provide reflections and practical tools on how to empower children in their relationship with science, helping them to progress toward a sense of ownership of scientific knowledge, that is, to see science as a tool to build the world they would like to live in. A training toolkit on these issues will be edited in 2014. At the PCST 2012 conference, we presented a paper with a plan of action for this project. Two years later, we propose a session that aims not simply at reporting on the progress made, but to pose what have been identified as fundamental questions, to the PCST participants, including some Brazilian experiences, thus widening and localizing the Siscatalyst horizons. Three short presentations will open the round table: Matteo Merzagora (Traces, Paris France), leader of the SiS catalyst action on listening and empowering children, will introduce the concepts, the training schemes and the results of the evaluation of these trainings. Raul Araujo (Independent consultant and Mudança de Cena, São Paulo, Brazil), who contributed to the understanding of exclusion mechanisms, will present the approach used with children and training organisers and science explainers, based on theatre of the oppressed approach, adapted to a science in society perspetive. Camille Breton (Association Paris Montagne) will present the results of various empowering activities carried out as part of the Science Académie programme targetting teenagers who are least likely to enrol in higher education, as well as their impact on the reflection of what social inclusion should and should not be. After 3 short presentations setting the theme, a discussion will be launched. Can ensuring that children voices  are heard and acted upon trigger institutional changes? That is, can it help science communication contribute to a more inclusive society? This session will complement the session “Science communication to/with children and teen: facing the challenges of diversity and social inclusion”, proposed by Débora d’Ávila Reis. In fact, these two sessions tackle the same core issue - participation and empowerement in science in society activities involving children - from two different perspectives (The children university perspective and the listening and empowering training schemes).

A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.

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