Author: Enrico M. Balli – Sissa Medialab, Italy

Dominique Brossard – University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA
Nancy Longnecker – University of Otago, New Zealand
Luisa Massarani – Museu da Vida, Fiocruz, Brazil

The science communication research community is constantly evolving and growing, with interests spreading from citizen science to science comics, from media discourse to community engagement. A part for strong, cross-cultural topics uniting researchers’ interests in the field, trends are emerging showing the need for regional platforms, bringing together researchers from geographical areas that share similar contexts and languages. Speakers in this session will focus on the specific bottom-up process which recently led the science communication scientific community in Latin America to advocate for a dedicated regional open access platform, which is leading to the creation of JCOM América Latina, a journal aimed to give voice their community.

The author has not yet submitted a copy of the full paper.

Presentation type: Roundtable discussion
Theme: Society
Area of interest: Influencing policies through science communication

Author: Enrico Balli, Sissa Medialab, Italy

Co-authors: Simona Cerrato, Elena Canel

Higher education institutions can have a major role in changing the life perspectives and improving the science capital of many children and young people who are kept at the margin of the educational system, as experienced during the Sis Catalyst project. In this paper we present a case study of the Children University Programme at SISSA (Trieste, Italy) run with a small group of teenagers who have
interrupted the school before the terms of the obligation. The aim of the project was exploring the potential of science to mitigate school drop out and facilitate social inclusion. It was done in collaboration with the SMAC School, an alternative school that helps young people at risk of marginalization and deviance to complied with the compulsory school.

After a preliminary period of mutual understanding and acquaintance with the research activities of SISSA, we carried out three workshops on coding using Scratch! the software developed by MIT to introduce children to programming. Eventually the SMAC pupils were invited to become mentors of a CoderDojo event organized at SISSA with a group of 30 children aged 9-11. They participated to the briefing before the meeting with the other experienced mentors, and then took care of the children with utmost care and responsibility, sharing with them their expertise, helping and encouraging when there were difficulties.

A series of in-depth interviews have been conducted with the educators and the facilitators of the workshops, and two focus groups have been carried out with the young participants. The preliminary outcomes are very encouraging: through the active engagement, the young participants have succeeded in completing a complex project, taking responsibility, dealing with other people external to their usual circle (both children and adults), in a context in which they have been valued and respected.