Bilbao travel diary : Visit of science fair 🇪🇸

That’s it, we’re finally here! The first meeting in field immersion of our European colleagues as part of the Erasmus + SPOON ! It’s always energizing to concretely undertake a project on which we have been thinking for several years, I was looking forward to getting to work for real by discovering the work of my Spanish colleagues.

With the MPLS Alsace we went to two people, myself, responsible for the project, and my colleague chemistry-physics teacher in secondary school and also trainer Jean-Daniel Hihi.

After a few hours of bus, transit and plane, we well arrive in Bilbao, well disposed to take a “spoonful” of science, with Basque sauce!

The welcome started in the presence of all our Croatian, Dutch, and Barcelona colleagues and of course with the kindness and the smile of Danel and Aitziber, our hosts of the Elhuyar Foundation of Bilbao.

We first receive the guidelines, established by Maria Heras Lopes from UOC Barcelona, built to allow to analyze the different interactions between teachers, students, organizers, and public during the Science fair. These indications make it possible to have the most constructive view possible on the subject that interests us in the context of this project : About how to create the best conditions and the most suitable environment for the development of transversal skills among teachers and students via science projects.

The first part of this visit took place autonomously, with the only referral, the recommendations of our Catalan colleague.

The stands installed inside Plaza Berria, it must be said, enjoyed a rather sublime and conducive to the opening to the general public, because beyond its beautiful architecture, and thanks to many pintxos teems happily with people, that’s make live together for a day, locals of all ages, tourists, journalists, and little scientists.

Plaza Berria

We first do a tour of the stands in the gallery of the place, held by the students, and after we went to the heart of the place of larger projects, as well as press space and institutional stands.

Despite the language barrier (most students speak Basque), we try contact ! We want to talk with the students, see their project and understand how they implemented it in class, chose their theme etc. Shyness is quickly defeated and almost all groups were able to tell us their project very clearly ! Many topics are addressed by students: ergonomics solutions for people with disabilities, food in space, antibiotic resistance, spectrometric tools to help color-blind people choose their tomatoes, useful robots, the preoccupation of increase in asthma cases, and many others.

We play the game, and participate in student demonstrations as needed.

The second part of the day, we returned to the fair, but this time we are put in groups of two, a Spooner / a local teacher who worked on a class project. This is an opportunity to deepen with them, the project management dimension, and to know more and share about the overall process for this kind of school project.

We meet a group of teachers who are more motivated than ever ! Miren, Inge and Garazi, from La Salle Beasain School, explained us that 4 hours / week are dedicated to the realization of this project for the fair. Students work in groups of 2 to 5 students of different levels. Thematics are chosen by students and validated by the teachers, the only constraint was to approach questions of science and society

Elena from SPOON, Miren, Jean- Daniel, Garazi, and Inge from La Salle Beasain School

The roles of the Elhuyar Foundation are to provide skills and networks of scientists and industries and laboratories available to the classes to help them to develop their projects. The implications of these professionals can be diverse: donation of materials, email exchanges, recommendations, advices about scientific methodology or site visits. Elhuyar also takes care of training for 2 days the teachers candidates to Science Fair upstream to give them the right project management tools, and insights on the scientific approach.

Miren admits to being completely thrilled to be part of this kind of initiative that puts students in action, as it helps to foster teamwork, initiative and collaboration among student groups as well as students. teachers between them. There is also naturally, at the end of the way, a sense of accomplishment, and pride in school projects and it is very important. 

But they don’t hide the fact that all this remains the result of hard work throughout the year, because we must ensure order and responsibility and all year until May! It must be made clear to students that involvement and concentration must be from beginning to end, because it’s a project that engages everyone.

In general, even if sometimes the scientific accuracy is a little put aside, we noted that there is no doubt that the students developed with this fair, fundamental transversal skills to learning, in critical mind but also to everyday life in general, to name but a few I will emphasize the commitment, the faculty of adaptation, the spirit of initiative, the collaborative work, the solidarity, and especially the communication and opening to others. To be able to communicate, to present, to make envy, to make understand, to be friendly and to adapt to his public, to repeat again and again, to pass the word and take it again, to be self-managed, to be tenacious and persevering. We could cite others but this list already shows how much this type of experience is worth living, and that science and its approach are a pretext quite suitable and efficient for learning contents but also behaviors useful to build as a citizen in general, and the role of framing these meetings by Elhuyar is very important. Thank you again for this work and this welcome!


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