LatinaLista — Getting more kids interested in science and math or curious about the world around them is not solely a problem of the U.S. Practically every major country in the world is facing the same dilemma of not having enough of their next generation pursuing STEM (science, technology, engineering and medical) careers.
In Chile, a creative approach to the STEM void was launched in 2012, and officially inaugurated in January 2013. Ever since the initial launch, enthusiasm for the project has only “speeded” up.
Realizing that there were thousands of children in Chile’s rural and impoverished regions who weren’t being motivated to get curious about the world through science, a partnership between EcoScience Foundation and the Ciencia & Vida Foundation resulted in a team of educators and scientists banding together to create Bus ConCiencia.
A donated tour bus outfitted to be a mobile science laboratory, Bus ConCiencia takes the science to the children in the hopes that the children take their newfound curiosity out into the world — and towards university degrees.
A play on the word “conciencia” which as one word means ‘conscience’ but when broken into two words — ‘con’ and ‘ciencia’ — means ‘with science,’ is a project that fully embodies both meanings.
Using recycled materials that are easy to make, the bus’s instructors work with local science teachers and their classes to conduct a series of experiments where children are encouraged “to use the scientific method and inquiry-based-learning to make discoveries on their own.” Because the materials are recyclable, it’s hoped that the local teachers can easily replicate the experiments once the bus has rolled out of town.
The bus’s instructors work with children in grades 3-6 for free at impoverished schools but charge a price to those schools that can afford to pay. In addition to working with the children, the bus’s team provides teachers with science workshops and posts on their website special monthly experiments where teachers need a code to access the instructions on how to create the experiment with their students.
Another element of the Bus ConCiencia is the ‘Ciencia en Cine‘ or Science at the Movies where science documentaries are shown to communities and one of the bus instructors shares a talk about science. By bringing science to the masses, the creators of the program hope “to generate a conversation about science as an agent of progress and innovation in Chilean society.”
Bus ConCiencia is