by Elena Bretón, Paula García y Carmen Rodríguez

Translation: Paula García

In June 2018, Design for Change Spain was invited to participate in the European project Horizon 2020 COMnPLAY Science. After three years of collaborative work between partners, collaboration with organizations of no formal science education, and a pandemic that has not stopped us, this project comes to an end in November. And what did these months of work consist of? The answer is promising: to foster the importance of science in the classrooms, to bring it over to children so that they are familiarized with new technologies, and to show the efficacy of the no formal education.

This project’s consortium is composed of 11 members from 10 European countries: Germany, Austria, Spain, Finland, Greece, Malta, Norway, Netherlands, United Kingdom, and Sweden. All of them have the technical knowledge needed for the project, are complementary to one another, and represent the parties interested in the world of informal and innovative science learning, reflecting the geographical, cultural, and socioeconomic diversity of Europe.

This project aims to help Europe better understand the new ways of no formal science learning. Nowadays, a lot of European children and youngsters learn through coding, invention, and other experimental activities, outside and inside the science classrooms.

Here are some other principal objectives:

  1. To develop a conceptual and methodological framework, integrating all the aspects of the project into a conceptual map.
  2. To establish a European community of people interested in formal and informal education, including students, educators, facilitators, and legislators of several fields that contribute, orientate and help to evaluate the investigation.
  3. Identify and analyze diverse practices in the fields of coding, maker activities, and leisure activities that happen outside the formal educational spaces.
  4. To conduct an empirical in-depth investigation in some of the chosen practices.
  5. To understand the impact that this kind of no formal science learning has on formal science education, on the traditional and informal interventions of science learning, on the youngsters as students and citizens, and on society as well.
  6. To disseminate the messages and results of the project and allow the exploitation of those results through the development of a guide for educators and facilitators that include recommendations for the development of policies and future investigations.

Within the project, two workshops of no formal science learning were implemented. The former workshop (“I CAN Activist”) was implemented in 4 hours and had 90 people of 15-16 years as participants. The latter workshop (“Looking for Science”) consisted of 2-hours activities with 89 students of 14-17 years. In this workshop, they mixed students from different schools with their teachers, so as to enrich the exchange experience (not just information).

In these workshops, the DFC Methodology was applied, going through five steps: Feel, Imagine, Do, Evoluate and Share. During this project, they tried to identify challenges so as to come up with ideas, create prototypes, choose which steps to take so as to act, and share the results.

According to the teachers that have accompanied and supported their students, it can be stated that this project has helped students to develop competencies, such as critical thinking, teamwork, and creativity. Moreover, as it was a long-term project, doing activities about the topic enabled the students’ motivation and empowerment.

Another benefit of this project is that it obtained a high level of implication from teachers and students, who made sciences go beyond the limits that their learning in formal backgrounds provides them. They felt a real interest in science and they learnt. Actually, the feedback that the participants provided has been key for the rise of the impact of the project in their lives.

Apart from the workshops, Design for Change Spain has contributed within the project to the spread of the activities carried out by the rest of the partners, as well as the investigation carried out within the framework of the no formal education. Practices of no formal science learning have been identified in Spain, facilitators have been interviewed and an investigation has been carried out with students and teachers from several schools. As a result of this European collaboration, several articles published in international research magazines have emerged.

Thanks to this project, it has been shown once again the principle of Better Together, because “if I CAN, it’s with you”, seeing the productive collaboration between the partners of the consortium. In DFC Spain, we are always encouraged with illusion in this kind of collaboration and projects, whose goal is to explore new practices of learning-teaching and to advance in the community towards quality education.

For further information: https://comnplayscience.eu/