Letters to Science from Colombian Children and Youth

Last week I was invited to participate in the launch of the book “Letters to Science: Dear science, this is is how I know you..” (“Cartas a la ciencia: querida ciencia así te conozco”) at Maloka, Bogota’s interactive and science museum. This book compiles letters written by Colombian children and youth from different regions of the country and is the result of a collaboration between the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation and ScienteLab, an organization I co-founded in 2018 to support access to science and quality education. The book is the product of the teamwork of many youths and adults who have participated in the Clubes de Ciencia – Colombia, particularly the ones who participated in the “Clubes de Ciencia para la Vida” during 2023.

Each letter is unique, reflecting the social, cultural, economic and educational contexts where children live, and their particular experiences, memories, and perceptions of science. This science, which in the book is the recipient of the letters and messages, is diverse and plural. It is a science that is perceived according to the opportunities that young people have to learn it, apply it and imagine it. As the messages in the letters reflect, this science is present in everyday life. Citizen science, science of the community, of the school, of the university, of the laboratories, of professionals and amateurs, intergenerational. A science for everyone.

Readers have in their hands a polyphonic book, in which they will be able to appreciate science from multiple points of view and with varied colors. The pages combine the text of the letters with illustrations created by a talented team of young designers, who have creatively interpreted the messages written by children and youth.

The voices of young people are heard throughout the book through more than 40 letters written from different regions of the country, with a variety of tones and perspectives. From gratitude to celebration, passing through calls to action, complaints, and petitions, the content of the letters reveals the central role that science plays in both rural, urban, and indigenous communities. Science is perceived as a transformative force, as a practice that empowers everybody. Moreover, it is also also recognized as an entity that is in dialogue with other knowledges and practices, including the ones from indigenous communities.

By placing the voices and drawings of children and young people in the foreground, this book contributes to making visible the imaginaries of a population that has often been excluded from the spaces of knowledge production occupied by adults. The children and young people who write these letters help us imagine possible futures for Colombia in terms of science, technology, and innovation. Their voices and illustrations contribute to democratizing science in a genuine and authentic way.

Unique in its format and content, “Letters to Science: Dear science, this is is how I know you..” reflects the work of ScienteLab and our efforts to democratize access to science, promote quality scientific education, and support scientific and technological literacy processes that contribute positively to the social, cultural and economic transformation in Colombia. Together with other scientists living abroad and in Colombia, we started this organization in 2018 with the goals of supporting quality education, science communication, and science-base entrepreneurial projects, and contributing to the social, cultural and economic transformation. Since then, ScienteLab has led several educational projects including Clubes de Ciencia in collaboration with public and private institutions.

*A free PDF of the book is available here

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