How to ease difficult discussions with children and teenagers
Would we like to know now the risk we face to develop serious diseases in the future? Are we ready to eat insects as a way to solve world famine and reduce pollution and CO2 amount in the atmosphere? How do we feel about being possibly observed in any moment of our life because of the smart technology we use? These are some of the difficult questions the new developments in science and technology pose to our society. Children and teenagers are part of this society, and moreover will contribute to shape the society of the future.
The session aims to present different formats of activities that can be used with young people to explore controversial and difficult issues.
Called “discussion games”, these activities are easy to organize settings in which participants feel comfortable to express their opinions, are exposed to a variety of different opinions, and learn in a pleasant way many new facts and concepts, both through the materials offered by the facilitators and in a peer-to-peer process. The session will present the settings and the materials, so to empower the seminar participants to use the existing discussion games or to design new ones. It will give also the opportunity to discuss if there are any limits in the topics we think acceptable to discuss with the younger kids.
Collective adventures, controversies, misconducts, discrimination in scientific research : necessary topics for responsible children universities
Scientific culture activities often present scientific research in a peculiar way. They show a Science performed by outspoken brilliant individuals, using the “waow effect” about uncontroversial knowledge. As active researchers, we experience a different science. For example Science is performed by a community rather than by individuals. Some people may face gender, ethnic or social discrimination when trying to join this community. Outstanding results are rare and everyday research experience can be disappointing. It may take ages before errors are uncovered and new paradigm proposed. Open controversies may fuel intense debate well beyond the scientific community. Some members of the community may misbehave, disregarding the norm and values of the community.
Should we hide or share these aspects ? We argue that transparency is beneficial and meets the goal of children universities. It show that science is a great human adventure. It avoids any illusion for young ones who wish to pursue a career in science. It allows to share and discuss the norms and values on which science is built. It invites the young generations to question how science is done, by whom, how it is funded, what shall it focus on. We advocate that transparency is the only way to rebuild trust between Science and Society.
Science communication against the background of conflicts
Do you wonder how science communication can be used in conflict (or post-conflict) regions of the world? Often in those areas people coexist in divided communities, where education also suffers from segregation. When one has a difficult life and tough history it is sometimes hard to see how science education can improve its quality of life. If you manage to remove major outcomes of science popularization and remove all layers of it what do you have left? What do we find? In those areas science communicators, educators and teachers can share different messages and segments of research process. How can values of healthy scientific communities improve life in segregated regions. Can they? Should they?
In this workshop you will experience examples of activities which were specially designed for one of those regions (ex Yugoslavia) where children literally grew up house by house without any possibilities to meet and interact with each other. You will for a short period of your life become a person living in two cities under the same roof. Workshop will require full body participation and openness for interaction.
Values Games in the context of science communication with and for children
In the SiS activities and work with children and youngsters different dilemmas and values emerge every day.Even though we might not always explicitly reflect on values, we choose between them every day. When we are in a hurry we may choose efficiency over quality. When we want to protect children, we might restrict the range of topics that we discuss with them. We want to be caring but we also want to be just, so we might doubt whether it would be fair to give someone a special privilege. We like freedom, but sometimes we are willing to sacrifice it for greater security. We want to seek new knowledge, but at what cost? There are values that we might never want to compromise - perhaps the sanctity of human life. The values are there, be it in our daily decisions that we make when working with children, or in big decisions made by the society in more general that we would like to discuss with children in science activities.
The first step in communicating with the youngsters about different difficult topics and values is to think about our own values and reflect on how and why we make our choices. University of Tartu, Centre for Ethics has developed a Values Game to help the actors to talk about and reflect on values that are important for us. In many cases we know what we find of value, but what to do or how to decide when these values collide?
Thinking about ones values is one of the main parts of the method called values clarification. In this workshop we will use values dilemmas in order to participate in values clarification. We will also learn about the method and how it could be used with the children and youngsters in Children University type of activities.
Into the fire -
Tools and methods to communicate difficult topics in science
- To gain a better understanding of why to use diverse and active methods
- To experience a range of methods and tools oneself
- To reflect on important elements when coming up with a method
- To transfer the learning of the workshop back to a concrete activity back home
The first part of the workshop will be about looking at different theoretical ideas of learning such as experiential learning and why it is important in general to use diverse and active methods when it comes to working with children, and specifically when you want to work with difficult topics.
Participants will then be able to choose which difficult topics they would like to work on themselves and experience a range of different interactive tools and methods.
As a next step the different experiences will be collected and participants will come up with important elements to be kept in mind when coming up with one’s own methods when working with difficult topics in educational activities.
Finally, the experience of the workshop will be applied to an activity planned by the participants to ensure the transfer of the learning of the workshop.
Education = learning = research: Why science is not just about scientists
This workshop will explore some of the issues around democratising science in the 21st century, arising from the findings of previous inquiry-based science education projects. Up till now, inquiry has been used within existing science curricula, but it opens the way for students to pursue questions of direct interest and value to them and their communities. For example, the decline of bee populations, with serious consequences for food production, is puzzling scientists, but could be investigated by students on a local scale, with results pooled across schools globally.
This can work because, In the same way that the printing press democratised writing, the internet is opening up science to ordinary citizens, including young people in the education system. We are seeing ‘citizen science’, ‘open science’ and (within the EU system) ‘responsible research and Innovation’, all movements towards...what? The workshop will take a blue sky approach to thinking about science education and what it could potentially mean for young people, not just as a career option but as a way of empowering them in their everyday lives. This does not mean the end for professional scientists, but it could signify a much more imaginative and people-centred approach to research and a more research-focused form of science education. The outcome will be a scenario illustrating what this might look like.
Who should attend?
Anyone involved in science education, especially if you feel dissatisfied with standardised testing, national curricula and getting ahead in statistical comparisons. And anyone who wants to change the world, since this will enable you to get started!