10+ Years of CF’s science education and outreach activities - Testimonials/Memories
Q1. Share with us the most rewarding memory/moment you have from being part of science education and outreach activities.
"My favourite memory (and I think it's my favourite simply because it was so recent) was getting feedback from the 2022 Neuronautas about how much they appreciated that this programme isn't grading them or asking them to complete exams, and how this allowed them to relax and focus on learning without the anxiety of performing for grades. Another feedback that I got was that the students really feel like the teachers at Neuronautas care about them as people, as humans, as individuals, and how this made the experience so much richer for them. I love being able to deliver such an experience to people and to give happiness in this way, in a way that celebrates learning and curiosity; so thank you for making such an experience possible!!"
"When all the other groups had ‘thank you’ slides for everyone, and especially their TAs, mine did not. I thought they did not have the time to do it, which was understandable, since we were working on the presentation until the literal last second, but it still left me a bit sad at the moment. But then, they surprised everyone by actually giving me a gift - a chocolate computer mouse, due to all the coding related help I gave them. It still warms my heart to think of that moment and I keep the package with all their signatures in my work desk and our Neuronautas pin next to my CF card."
"Especially with Sciencecalifragilistic (I think I managed to spell it without having to copy/paste it!), when the students we were working with realised that scientific work requires a lot of repetition and "failure" — i.e., reframing questions, coming up with new hypotheses — and not only ‘eureka’ moments."
Ciência di Noz Manera & Science on the Walls
"After the first sessions of Ciência di Noz Manera, I remember hearing some kids whispering amongst themselves that they had never considered being scientists but now they felt that it was something to consider (even if Math wasn’t their strongest subject!)."
"Science on the Walls: The beautiful chaos of a room full of researchers and students alike sitting on the floor, chasing robots, covered in wires and paint, although I worried about their parents' reactions to the state of their clothes! Those worries were unfounded and the feedback from home - that they wouldn’t stop talking about the day - was incredible."
"These two projects are really significant to me, particularly because we use science as a tool for social change, and researchers as key actors to change young people's lives. In addition, both are happening in "my" neighbourhood, which makes them even closer to my heart."
"Ciência di Noz Manera: When I learned some super interesting new facts about my own home country from one of the very clever kids participating in an activity. Knowledge sharing both ways! We both took home a lot that day."
European Researchers’ Night | Noite Europeia dos Investigadores
"Just feeling the interest and support from all generations; from young kids just excited to see fruit flies in a tube to senior participants sharing with us their experiences with Science and the hope that it will keep improving society."
The pure enthusiasm when, immediately after participating as CCU tour guides, one grinning student told us “Whenever you need me, please just call, I am available and would really love to do this again!<3”
"Seeing a child's eyes light up when exploring science is an unmatched feeling that I will never get tired of and pushes me to keep going!"
"Helping organise Ar events was my best experience at the Champalimaud Foundation. I felt that we were working as a true team for a higher level goal of impacting society, and that was the most rewarding feeling. My most memorable moment was bringing a large group of Capeiristas to the auditorium stage to embody the fusion of body movement, spirit, soul, music, resistance, and science altogether. I hope the audience felt that unity."
"Having the auditorium full with a captivated audience for so many different topics. Tickets 'selling' out in hours/minutes! Hours-long discussions with the other members about the reasons why we should do science communication; the role of communication in society; the best, most engaging ways to connect with people etc. Ar in a bar - a really different type of connection to the public, with in depth discussions."
"The entire programme of the Ar event on dance (DançAr), particularly the dance workshops in the auditorium, allowed the building to be used by the public in a super informal way - I have a great snapshot memory of taking a class of African Dances on top of the auditorium stage, along with maybe 20 people."
"A conversation with non-science exposed friends months after attending an Ar event, asking “did they find out anymore about X? I’d love to know how it’s going”, showing a genuine interest sparked in the topic, if an unrealistic expectation of the research timeline!"
"Seeing students routinely give more coherent and captivating talks than the professors they were introducing!"
"A recent highlight was MCing my second Ar event (Tripping into the Unknown), on one of my favorite research topics - and seeing how well it came out on film - immortalised my poor fashion choices of 2020."
School Visits & Other Outreach Events
"School Visits to CF - It feels very nice to be an example for kids to believe that they can be scientists and do research if they really want to. Also to help them meet the right people and guide them to a process that I've been through and to which my experience may be helpful."
Ana Beatriz Machado
"One of the most rewarding/memorable memories that I had was talking about the basic science we do in our lab in an outreach event. There I talked to multiple people, of every age group and I remember talking to a man that had been struggling with a disease for a long time (whichI had recently found a good friend of mine had also been diagnosed with). Just the excitement of that person, of everything scientifically related that we do, and how that could potentially help him and others in the future, was something that was really fulfilling to me."
"The online campaign Conversas com Cientistas: Décadas de Ciência para Dias de Vacinas - due to the online structure, it was hard to really connect with the public but there were a couple of instances in which I felt that some preconceived notions regarding the vaccines and some anti-vax feelings were openly discussed after some initial inertia. My hope and something I still value is that, at least for a while, it made the students think a bit more about the situation and the importance of helping others, even if they were not necessarily at risk."
"Dia Mundial da Criança - Coming up with an idea and having the full support of the CEO team to help me fulfil it was truly amazing. Can't thank you guys enough for all your hard work in making science more accessible to everyone!"
Ana Beatriz Machado
"March For Science - seeing the science community of Lisbon coming out to support science funding."
"The discovery of a total new world; the bright eyes; the shyness. Understanding later that our contact made a difference."
Maria João Villas-Boas
"Roots of Curiosity, an amazing programme that turned into a boost in personal development and creative sharing, with super-bonding with top quality artists, and an interesting institutional partnership. That premiere at Black Box - CCB, being in front of a crowd, after months of preparation, still resonates. Also, the mini-event ‘Study in Somatic Rhythm,’ at Espelho d’Água, was an initial step towards Art+Science encounters on an informal scale - I remember fondly trying to acquire EEG data on percussion and rhythm as a naïve attempt to generate something interesting or just finding beats as a group of diverse people."
Q2. Do you feel like you learned/realised something new while running these activities?
"I realised that this approach of ours — that of engaging diverse audiences with the science we produced and thought about every day — was something I was very keen on exploring. And I did."
"I've learned so much with all these experiences. I've learned how to better communicate science to the general public and how to adapt my speech to the target audience, in terms of age, education, academic background, social-economic context, etc. I've also had the opportunity to meet and work with other amazing scientists and staff at CF (and even other institutes) which I probably wouldn't have come across otherwise. And I've felt a sense of pride and reward whenever I see the real impact that these activities have on the people they target."
Ana Beatriz Machado
"Organising Ar events at CF made me realise how people's potential is unleashed when the leadership enables teams to use that freedom."
"Contributing made me realise how much I enjoy sharing knowledge with others, especially younger people,to the point of considering if I should/could pursue it as a next career move. Also, the need to continuously improve my ability to explain hard and complex scientific ideas in simple terms - and in Portuguese, which is rare."
"Absolutely! I always feel like learning is inevitable whenever I try to synthesise what I'm working on into something that's digestible for the general public."
"Yes: the importance of sharing new scientific ideas and projects and deconstructing barriers."
Maria João Villas-Boas
"Sure! I found that our place as scientists was more wide than the labs we worked at. And that we share a lot in common with other types of creatives. It was important for my future self as a confirmation that I was not limited in my possibilities and horizons."
"The true extent of the disconnect in awareness and opportunity between science-exposed and non-exposed publics within a very small geographical radius. The difference in expectations was staggering and something that I hope we can continue to work to change.
Also, my “Teenage Portuguese”! My mother-in-law wonders where I am getting some words from!
And, last but not least, the importance of detailed contingency planning, whilst maintaining flexibility and calm to react to the inevitably unexpected, nothing in outreach ever goes exactly to plan!"
"Absolutely! Every interaction I have while communicating science is a learning moment. Learning to communicate is a skill we don't value or teach enough and it's through doing it that I have learned the most."
"Too many to list."
Q3. What kind of impact do you think your contribution has/had on the participants?
"I believe my greatest impact has been to show young people that being a scientist can take on many forms; that one can integrate arts with science, one does not have to choose between them; and that no matter what you do with your life, the knowledge, tools, and techniques of neuroscience can only enrich and empower."
"I think more about the impact that the participants had on me. Taking part in all these programmes over the years, in parallel with the formative years of my doctorate, shaped the way I see, feel and understand public engagement with science."
"I hope I have contributed towards people seeing that science is not some field of knowledge detached from our lived experiences."
"Making the young students realise that maths and coding is not something to be afraid of but instead, something cool and useful."
"Repeated interactions and relationships built between researchers and teenagers tangibly increased confidence, self-worth and openness. Longer term, I believe that the teenagers involved may be more inclined to seek out diverse future opportunities beyond their bubble."
"I hope we excite a few people to enter science or at least see the science behind something they never thought about."
"I can definitely personalise this question: Tiago Quendera joined the CR as a researcher soon after the Somatic Rhythm workshop, something that I am sure changed entirely his (and CR's) life ;)"
"I hope I have inspired some and, at least, given them a pleasant time! My even bigger hope is that I taught them something about the importance of critical and scientific thinking - two of my top three favourite thinking "things", together with thinking about cats."
"Hard to know for sure, but hopefully some seeds were planted :)"