Learning the method, sharing STEM enthusiasm: new training to go

A school of enthusiasm and motivation. An experiment in collaboration and contamination. A moment of exchange and knowledge. 

The Seedscience online training is all of this, at least according to Federico Frezza, a PhD student in Physics who attended it from a laboratory in Prague. And in that lab, while maneuvering a ‘somewhat special’ microscope, he applies what he has learnt. All of the above and … the SeedScience method. A special method that revolves around doing, experiencing and bringing to life. It would be impossible to transmit the pillars by sending slides or handouts. Even sterile video lectures are not enough, it is a method that must be experienced on oneself in order to test its effectiveness and then be able to apply it with maximum conviction

We are talking about a method for teaching scientific subjects, through experiments made with ‘what there is’ and enthusiasm

But what would a PhD student do with it? Because the Seedscience method is also “a way of experiencing science that all science enthusiasts should share. It is the understanding and transmission of how physics, chemistry and biology, as well as mathematics, are in everyday life. So to show their fascination and how they work, you don’t need great resources but inventiveness and enthusiasm”. 

After the course, Federico even learned how to explain the ‘invisible tunnel effect’ on which the microscope is based, to the children who sometimes visit his workshop, with an everyday and entertaining example. He simply asks them to imagine a ball thrown against a metre-thick wall. In everyday reality, it bounces, but if you make it smaller, there is a certain probability that it will go through the wall. This is how electrons behave, allowing researchers like him to study new materials, those that in the more or less distant future will perhaps be part of our everyday life.

Federico is at work in the lab on the Scanning Tunneling Microscope (STM).

So much for electrons and tennis balls, the Seedscience online training is starting now, and there is still room. Still a few left free of the 20-25 reserved for teachers (1st and 2nd grade) from Ghana and Uganda and the ten reserved for teachers, but not only teachers, from Italy. Those participating from Italy, in fact, may simply be science enthusiasts eager to take part in a special multicultural experience. Organised by SeedScience, in collaboration with its partners in Ghana and Uganda, the course includes online activities and attendance will be self-paced, with weekly deadlines. Every fortnight, then, all participants will meet on the Zoom platform with their mentors. Precisely these moments of ‘live’ exchange are special, according to Federico, and very useful. “By talking and comparing ideas, you touch upon the differences between the two situations, Italy and Africa, when it comes to organising an experiment. Both in terms of the materials to be used and the spaces and situations. They have much larger classes and much less equipment, but they compensate with a great deal of enthusiasm and inventiveness. They have a strong energy and, although they have a lot of students, they maintain a very strong one-to-one relationship, also emotionally. I noticed this during the course and it impressed me. Working in small mixed groups is then certainly the best way to get to know each other and learn, the method and many other ‘life’ lessons’.

Moment of joy during one of the online meetings for the 2022 cohort of the SeedScience online course.

Another piece of advice for future ‘alumni’ from Federico: “don’t fall behind, you would miss out on all the interaction and exchange of feedback, online and live, which is what makes the course special, and every moment shared”. The best advice, however, is to enroll. There is time until 10 March, just submit your application via the Google form at the link https://forms.gle/ccwj6qQZN8V3fgD59

Article by Marta Abbà with the contribution of Federico Frezza.

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