In Portugal, only 33% of young people who finish high school access higher education and when we take minority race/ethnicity and socioeconomic disadvantage 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 and 9th graders (13-15 year olds) called Ciência di Noz Manera / Science our Way.
More about this multi-phase programme:
1. Large group sessions (Phase 1): 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 really means to be a researcher. By sharing their own personal experiences,, driivng forces and challenges, researchers are able to humanize science.
2. Workshop and mentoring (Phase 2 and 3): this involves smaller groups of students pre-selected/encouraged by their teachers and self-selecting, comprising those teenagers with high potential, but lacking role-models and motivation to even entertain the idea of further study. With this group we 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).
We are always looking for local 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, Rita Fior or ERA Chair Adriana Sánchez-Danés 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.
Progress and Stories
It is with great pleasure that we are now launching RAISE - Researchers in Action for Inclusion in Science and Education, a new MSCA Citizens-funded consortium - building from Ciência di Noz Manera - that aims to reach members of society that continue to be left out of or feel detached from science and to, ultimately, promote social mobility.
Phase 1 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 seminars for 8th graders in May/June 2021.
Phase 2 December 2021
Session 1 - 9º B, D and E
Development / Raquel Mendes and Ruth Diez del Corral
Tracing Neurons / Margarida Brotas
Dissecting our Decisions / Tiago Quendera
Session 2 - 9º C and G
Development / Rita Fior and Marta Estrada
Cell Biology / Raquel Lopes and Mireia Castillo-Martin
Session 3 - 9º A and F
Development / Rita Fior and Márcia Fontes
Micro World / Ana Gonçalves and Andrada Ianus
Immunology / Andreia Maia and Carolina Gorgulho and Eric de Sousa
Organisers: Laura Ward and João Cruz
Phase 3 March-May 2022
Min. 5 sessions at school and 1 site visit to CCU, 30 students mentored by:
Raquel Lopes and Mireia Castillo-Martin; Ana Queiros; Margarida Brotas and Eugenia Chiappe; Filipa Barros; Marta Moita and Saheli Roy; Francisco Azevedo and Margarida Pinto; Rita Fior and Ana Lucia Rebelo; Ana Bia Machado and Tiago Quendera; Andrada Ianus and Laura Silva
1. Phase 1 - PhD students Denise Camacho and Mario Aguilar next to a project poster after their 8th grade seminar on how cells compete.
2. Phase 2 - 9th graders building their own mini microscopes (foldscopes) with PhD student Ana Gonçalves and Postdoc Andrada Ianus.
3. Phase 2 - Technician Margarida Brotas engaging 9th graders through "Tracing Neurons" practical station.
4. Team photo, back onsite at the Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown.
Resources for Volunteers
Following the introductory session, and for those volunteering for the Phase I seminars and/or Phase II workshops, we have added all of the resources you will need to a folder, which you can access here (including some updated guide slides, crib/info sheet and a space to collect your feedback and photos). Phase III resources here.