The process and the contents
The initiative is intended to “face several themes in an articulated, multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary way, outside the conventional drawers by discipline, and using project-based learning methodologies”, explains Pedro Pombo, director of Fábrica Centro Ciência Viva, based on previous experiences.
This is the case of the Maker spaces, first at the Fábrica, involving classes in the curricular flexibility regime of the Aveiro Schools Group, and then within the Maker Academies financed by the Knowledge Academies program of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, the “Maker in Schools programs” (Ílhavo, São Bernardo, Casa da Cidadania, Gondomar and Espinho) and the remaining Maker spaces (Ílhavo and Coimbra), without forgetting the operations launched with municipalities, such as the “Doing space” in Pombal.
Pedro Pombo, from Fábrica da Ciência, believes in an interactive and more practical model of seeing science.
How important is 3D Printing in your daily activities?
3D printing in the daily activities of science communication has allowed the creation of solutions for educational content and programs, as well as the development of proofs of concept within the scope of the projects developed by researchers of the Fábrica Centro Ciência Viva de Aveiro.
What is your perspective on the importance of 3D Printing for the advancement of science and education?
3D printing has proved to be of utmost importance for the advancement of science, through the creation of customizable solutions and the potential to make physical ideas and models involved in laboratory work that validates new laws of science.
In the field of education, 3D printing has opened up a whole new area of action and intervention, both for teachers, as a tool to create content and new educational devices, and for students, as a working resource that allows the development of STEAM skills.
“Tech Labs in Schools” was an initiative organized into three components:
- development and production of Tech Labs and respective contents;
- teacher training and monitoring;
- dynamization and training in the classroom context.
With regard to the first component, a STEAM learning program was established and the concept of Tech Labs was created for schools in the 1st Cycle of Basic Education (1°CEB). Subsequently, all educational materials and content were developed and the appropriate equipment and tools were selected for the respective target audience.
During December 2019 and January 2020, 31 Tech Labs were installed in the 31 schools of the 1ºCEB in the municipality of Aveiro. This operation involves all schools of the 1ºCEB in the municipality of Aveiro, with a total of 200 teachers and more than 3000 students. The 31 Tech Labs integrate 31 3D printers, 62 computers, 62 Maker stations, 31 tools and 248 Maker kits.
In addition to these materials, the Department of Communication and Art (DeCA) of the UA developed programming kits dedicated to younger people, that allow children to get in touch with programming (algorithm), in which they begin to become familiar with computing languages, and learn physical computing, with objects that must be related to and whose functioning is governed by programming concepts.
Regarding the “training” task (second component), the teacher training program involves eight modules for learning STEAM, namely "3D modulation and printing", "scratch programming", "makey makey programming", "electrical challenges", "scribble machine", "programming and robotics", "programming Ozobots”, “Buildings and Tinkering”.
Finally, the third task dedicated to follow-up is intended to assist the main class teacher in the dynamization of STEAM learning programs, supporting the functioning of Tech Labs in each school. Its objective is to implement an action plan for teacher training in the classroom context and for the development of practical work with students.
The schools receive, by routine, visits by two teams from the Factory, in order to encourage, among the students involved, the development of projects, the promotion of soft-skills and the “learning by doing” approach.
This operation is a pioneer at national level, either in its Maker program, in its scope, training, and in the stakeholders involved.
A Tech Labs program for Secondary Education also started with an extension of the initiative to the 2nd and 3rd Cycles of EB. In this way, a vertical implementation with the possibility of monitoring and evaluation will be achieved.