SPOONERS Travel Report: Let’s go to Summer Science Factory 1/2 🇭🇷

The weather is good and the sky is blue, we have an appointment for a new immersion week to new educational horizons in Split in Croatia. I take with me all my curiosity and the most adventurous of my colleagues of the Maison pour la science en Alsace !
It is always a personal and professional pleasure to discover how other countries manage to boost their science practices and the contribution of partners is a valuable toolbox that we must build together and share.
This is how our consortium get together again, in the idyllic setting of Dalmatia, a mild weather, a culture of extreme richness that abounds everything : architecture history, its inhabitants and also its education actors that we are about to meet.

Day 1 :

In the Dalmatian heat, we are the shadows of the summer camp

Every year, during the summer holidays, Tvornica Znanosti trains motivated teams of “mentors” of all ages, of all kinds and of all nationalities, from the worlds of research, teaching or scientific communication. Temporary mediation team takes care of a week, a little less than a hundred students from 9 to 18 years volunteers. A form of scientific camp consisting of preparing STEM activities in a friendly and informal setting, under the attentive and caring eyes of “mentors”. The highlight of this week being the one we had the chance to attend on day two: the final presentation in the form of small stands animated by the students, with the arrival of their parents, animations, and a ceremony of presentation of degrees. Each day begins with an “energizer”, activities created to welcome students, these activities are very common among our Croatian partners, we have already experimented some, like that which consists of a collective movement, holding the hands in a random way, and to “untie” the arm and hand knot, then try to reform the initial position. A little acrobatic and destabilizing ! We start moving, we touch, we cooperate, but above all we talk about science, because it’s actually a metaphor for the folding of proteins (image and description of the animation)

In the anthill and the general excitement of tomorrow’s preparation we tried an observation and some interactions with students and educators. It was very pleasant to see that often fun discipline and motivation went hand in hand.
The craze is such that most children return from year to year, voluntarily on their holidays, and even some of them, postulate and become “mentors” in their turn ! We can speak of a success!

During this immersion and discussion with each other, we learned that the STEM topics for each group of students were chosen directly by the mentors, who must first submit their project and their motivation to coordinate the event. .
This is a bit the opposite of our Basque partners, who leave the choice of STEM topics to students for the preparation of science fair.

The topics are nevertheless very diverse: a little medicine, introduction to microbiology, history of science, mathematics, biology, video game creation, physics and technology. All this little world fignole its productions, experiment and flutters in search of material. The days are exhausting for the organizers, and as the end approaches, the moments of fakja and pomalo, peculiar to the region, come at the right time to debrief, breathe and exchange. The TZ team is happy, everything is ready for the big day tomorrow!

That same evening, Danel and Aitziber, our Croatian partner, proposed an activity for mentors, we are not here only to observe, the exchanges are always bilateral, and we want to contribute also to import our ideas.
Our two Basque colleagues have therefore proposed a “Play decided” activity , specially designed for the actors of the scientific mediation “Let’s Organized a Summer Camp”. The interest of Play Decide games is to catalyze and initiate debates. We can create and rehabilitate for many uses, in class, in teams, with friends … In France for example we use it to talk about GMOs in training.
This game here was very interesting, because we were able to discover the global vision of everyone on the importance of creating events promoting science but also its approach and its citizen utility.

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