“We want to show schoolchildren that there is science everywhere”

In a few days, the Margarita Salas Foundation, created to protect and disseminate the legacy of the pioneering scientist in molecular biology, will celebrate its first year of work. Along with this purpose, and with the same range of interest, the foundation works to stimulate vocations in STEM areas (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) in schoolchildren in rural and urban areas with few resources through the Classrooms. Margarita Salas. If Salas highlighted the importance of basic science, which creates knowledge from which results and applications that are not foreseeable at first sight can emerge, the foundation that bears his name makes every effort to sow curiosity about science among children with certainty. that something positive will come out of all of this.

What are the Margarita Salas Classrooms to promote science among schoolchildren?

They are extracurricular activities aimed at Primary school children, ages 6 to 12, carried out by our STEM facilitators. In them we use resources based on science didactics, the method of knowing how to teach these subjects, in which our coordinator Bárbara de Aymerich, a researcher at the University of Burgos, is an expert. One of the objectives is to demonstrate that there is science everywhere. So we define a theme, we choose which topics we work on and we plan it.

Are they very practical?

Yes, but not in the plan of arriving and doing experiments. For example, in the Science of Stories project: if there is a towering giant that reaches the clouds, we see how they are formed, how the water is supported, etc. It is about making children wonder what is behind what they see and investigate to find the answer. A method with which we know that it improves motivation for science.

Is it a kind of sowing and we'll see what comes of all this?

You can say that, yes. Of course, it is not expected that all participating schoolchildren will study science in the future. In fact, 80% of those in the school system are not going to opt for scientific studies. But, if from that 20% it turned out that we reached 23, that would be fantastic. But, the 80% who are not going to end up doing science are going to have correct scientific and technological literacy and acquire skills for their life in general. And this is almost even more important.

Why are they concentrated in rural or disadvantaged urban areas?

The PISA reports show that there is no significant difference in science knowledge between a rural and an urban environment, because the system is working well and it is guaranteed that schools teach science. Although there are worse results in mathematics. Furthermore, in socially disadvantaged rural or urban environments there are fewer extracurricular activities, there is a lack of museums and there are fewer, or not as evident, leading people dedicated to science. For example, an agronomist or a veterinarian are scientists, they are STEM, from their areas, but that characteristic must be discovered. By getting to know them, they can also see that in their towns they can develop these scientific careers.

Where have you developed the first projects?

We have eight Margarita Salas Classrooms in towns and neighborhoods of Seville, Madrid, Soria, Burgos and Badajoz. Soon we also hope to reach the Canary Islands. Some are in the town school, in the cultural house or one in the municipal library. The methodology and purpose is common, but our STEM facilitators land them in each place according to their characteristics and environment. They are a key figure in the project because they are the ones who in practice channel and facilitate the scientific inquiries of the schoolchildren.

In addition to the Classrooms, what other projects does the foundation have?

The STEM Clubs, scholarships and prizes and Margarita Salas Day.

What are STEM Clubs?

They are interdisciplinary groups of ten third-year degree and vocational training students, from different careers that we created so that they can work together, share their work, etc. The objective is, on the one hand, to reflect on the impact of science on society. And, on the other hand, they have a broader vision and give them the ability to work as a team with people from different areas. So that, for example, if someone in the future works with specialists from other areas, they know what they can offer in their field.

The scholarships and awards are focused on promoting research, it is understood.

Yes, specifically in basic science, life and environmental sciences. And the awards are a recognition of Spanish scientists with international impact and the dissemination of science.

Margarita Salas Day is missing.

In November, the month in which she was born, we organized a week of activities about her legacy and scientific dissemination, school competitions, exhibitions, conferences, among others.


Years of experience and training

A physicist, scientific communicator and almost thirty-something, he has a degree in Communication and Dissemination Projects from the Pablo de Olavide University and has received Honorable Mention in the International Science in Action Competition. He has participated in numerous teacher training projects, educational consulting and writing and consulting of educational content in innovative companies in the education sector.