In Portugal, only 33% of young people who finish high school access higher education and when we take race and socioeconomic context into consideration, this number often drops dramatically (1). In Escola Pedro D’Orey da Cunha in Damaia (Lisbon suburbs), as in many others, this is a reality. Over the last few months, we have been in contact with this school and developed a collaborative pilot programme for 8th graders (13 year olds) called Ciência di Noz Manera / (Women) Scientists as Role Models.
More about this two-phase programme:
1. Large group sessions: in a hybrid format (half webinars/half in-person) researchers are invited to share with the students a very short and simple presentation on an accessible topic related to their research and, more importantly, what it means to be a researcher.
The first round (7 sessions) ran in June 2021. Round 2 will run from January 2022.
2. Workshop and mentoring: this will involve a smaller group, both pre-selected by the school and self-selecting, comprising those teenagers with high potential, but lacking role-models and motivation to even consider further study. With this group we will to develop a short programme of practical sessions at the school where students can form a relationship with the researchers while doing some hands-on experimental work. We expect this to facilitate a longer-term mentoring process as they progress, helping the teenagers to decide on the best options for their studies and paths (9th grade is a critical national decision point).
The first round will run during November/December 2021.
We are always looking for Champalimaud researchers to get involved, prioritising women and those from other underrepresented groups in STEM to fill the role-model gap.
If you think you can offer these teenagers from an underprivileged context a taste of your work and motivations and the opportunity to think about their own options and future in a different way, then please answer this form or contact Laura Ward, João Cruz, Catarina Ramos, ERA Chair Adriana Sánchez-Danés or Rita Fior directly by email or in-person, and let us know how and when you would like to be involved!
Interested but can't commit your time right now? Follow our progress and stories below.
Following the introductory session, and for those volunteering for the Phase I seminars, we have added all of the resources you will need to a folder, which you can access here (including some updated guide slides - use only the parts you want - and a crib/info sheet).
Progress and Stories
First phase May/June 2021
8º A - Cancer, immunity, mental health / Marcia Fontes and Ana Maia
8º B - Neuroscience, animal behaviour / Margarida Brotas
8º C - Cell and molecular biology, cancer / Ana Sofia Marques
8º D - Cell competition, developmental biology / Denise Camacho and Mario Aguilar
8º E - Cognitive psychology, statistics / Tiago Quendera and Carolina Pestana
8º F- Cancer, immunity, clinical trials / Rita Fior and André Valente
8º G - Microbiology, microscopy / Eliane Carvalho and Anna Pezzarossa
See below some photos taken during our pilot phase of seminars for the 8th graders in May/June 2021.
1. CR PhD students Denise Camacho and Mario Aguilar next to the poster after their seminar explaining how cells compete;
2. Student feedback form example;
3. CR Technician Margarida Brotas engaging the students with videos of fruit flies.