The second edition of Clubes de Ciencia Colombia succesfully ended yesterday with a simultaneous event in six different cities across the country. During the event more than 1200 Colombian youths participated in science fairs, dialogues, panels, and received diplomas for their successful participation in week-long science workshops. Parents, researchers, international and local scientists, and some members of the organizing team were present at each city, while other team members joined them via tele-conference from Boston.
Clubes de Ciencia is an initiative that seeks to spread the culture of science and knowledge among Latinamerican youth, as well as to build an international network of scientists and researchers. It was piloted first in Mexico in 2014, and later was expanded to Bolivia and Colombia. Clubes de Ciencia achieves its goals, through organizing one-week workshops about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), and Entrepreneurship and Innovation, for low-income high school youths. The workshops are co-facilitated by researchers affiliated with academic institutions abroad, and scientists from local universities.
During the one-week activities of the Clubes, youths have the opportunity to connect with doctoral and post-doctoral researchers and work with them in scientific projects and experiments. Although many of these youths are already enrolled in technical programs such as TecnoAcademias in Colombia, they rarely have the opportunity to meet post-graduate researchers from abroad and to try the latest tools and sensors for investigating their environment. Clubes de Ciencia provides access to both high quality technology and mentors.
I joined the Clubes de Ciencia Colombia team last February, first as a member of the communication department, and later in May as the lead of the Education division. I was very motivated to collaborate in this project and found its vision totally sound. The project matched my research and design interests in learning, socio-cultural change, technology and innovation. Furthermore, it gave an opportunity to participate in a project with links to Colombia. It allowed me to be exposed to the challenges that my country faces as it transitions towards a knowledge and information society, tries to implement information and communication technology (ICT), and builds peace and democracy. Although the challenges are many, the efforts to spread the culture of science, research, and knowledge, are crucial for the positive changes that Colombia will experiment in the near and far future.
This year, Clubes also confronted its own challenges as it grew up from a pilot project of 18 workshops in two cities (Medellín y Bogotá), to 66 workshops in six different cities (Medellín, Barranquilla, Bogotá, Bucaramanga, Pereira y Túquerres). From serving 374 students in 2015 to having more than 1200. Sponsored by the Departamento Administrativo de Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación (Colciencias), the Servicio Nacional de Aprendizaje (SENA), Ruta N, Sapiencia, y universidades públicas y privadas, the second iteration of Clubes de Ciencia Colombia was big. All the team members had to multiply our capacity in order to meet deadlines and coordinate the execution of the 66 workshops across the country. For instance, as the lead of the Education division I helped to coordinate student registration, provide feedback to the workshop curricula, design guides and rubrics, and to plan the some of the activities of the national simposio (opening event) and clausura (ending event). Arukay an enterprise based in Colombia also helped us with the logistics of the workshops sponsodered by Colciencias, and was crucial for making the Clubes hapenning this year.
Due to the scale of the project, its impact, vision and goals, Clubes de Ciencia was reviewed on several Colombian media outlets. Below are some of the articles (in Spanish) that reviewed the project and amplified some of the voices of the participants:
- Clubes de Ciencia Colombia: investigación para la transformación
- Investigadores de Harvard y MIT llevarán la ciencia a los niños de colegios públicos
- Proyectos de vida con con-ciencia: Clubes de ciencia
- Niños de colegios públicos construyeron microscopios de origami
(members of Clubes de Ciencia Colombia from Boston during the Clausura joining a tele-conference with auditoriums in 6 cities)