Summer Science Factory: offering to youngsters an opportunity to realise that they ARE scientists 🇭🇷

Each year, around 90 youngsters, aged between 9 and 18, meet in the facilities of the Mediterranean Institute for Life Science (MEDILS) in Split to join STEM-related activities guided by scientists during six days.

This year the SPOON project partners have visited the 13th edition, organised in the coast of Croatia with an unparalleled scientific atmosphere, where we could be in contact with experts in different fields. The MEDILS facilities offered to youngsters an engaging context to take the role of a STEM professional.

The organisation crew, formed by five passionated persons in STEM Education, started preparing the new edition on January with the selection of the mentors. First, they meet personally with all the appliers, and after the interviews, those with more potential were selected. In the next weeks, the mentors prepared a proposal for a workshop, based on their expertise and interests, with the SSF crew support. Finally, the SSF organisation selected the workshops for the new edition, and they spent a weekend polishing the details of the summer camp and counseling the mentors about pedagogy, about how to adapt to the target group age, etc. The involved mentors are motivated because the summer camp offers them the opportunity to practice their teaching, and they feel engaged trying to explain difficult content and procedures to the kids.

For example, two students in the first year of Medicine taught the kids what are the basic procedures of a general practitioner, and the youngsters had the opportunity to apply what they learned on the visitors the last day’s science fair: they measured blood pressure and lung capacity, identified blood types, etc. And that is one of the strengths of the science camp: the kids have opportunities to experience both real-world science and captivating simulations about science and technology.

The content for the workshops are designed with preciseness, but they are very playful too. Moreover, playfulness is one of the cornerstones of the camps. During the day the kids are fostered to participate in amusing games to get involved and make relationships among them, so the camps offer them opportunities not only to develop STEM skills but other vital skills too: soft skills, interpersonal skills to build relations, know people with the same interests, consider failure as a part of the process, etc.

In 2019 SSF received 136 applications to participate in the SSF, 91 of them were selected. Usually, youngsters are required to send a motivational letter that is taken partially into consideration for the selection, and grades are not important because the organisers want motivated kids more than any other thing. Furthermore, the youngsters that participated in the previous edition do not have a preference to attend the next edition, because SSF aims to reach as many young people as possible.

The Spoon partners have really enjoyed the opportunity to experience on first hand the superb opportunity offered to the youngsters by SSF, and we all got very inspired with ideas to take to our countries.

Vidimo se iduće godine!

See you next year!

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