Researchers at Schools

Ciência de Noz Manera – 1st edition

Ciência di Noz Manera (Science Our Way, in Cape Verdean creole, CNM), is a mentoring programme run by science communicators and scientists in Portugal, aimed at students from underserved backgrounds. CNM promotes inclusion in science and education and aims to enthuse ethnic minority and migrant teenagers with science and to motivate and support higher education studies. It focuses on the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries (CPSC) as Portugal has a long history of colonisation, decolonisation and immigration and most descendants living in Portugal have low levels of education. Official reports show that the vast majority of CPSC students either enter into professional courses or enter the job market early and only 20 % go on to higher education. Of those in college, a low percentage choose STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) related courses.

This programme is organised in three phases:

  • Phase I – Seminars: scientists share their experience and academic path. Duration of around 60 to 90 minutes.
  • Phase II – Hands-on scientific workshops: scientists demonstrate scientific experiments. Duration of one afternoon or one morning.
  • Phase III – Mentoring sessions: scientists carry out mentoring sessions with a small group of students (4-5 students per mentor), supporting them in the development of a project in an area of their interest.

The first edition of CNM represented a pilot year and was supported by the QuantOCancer project and the Champalimaud Foundation (CF). In the school year of 2021/2022, 200 teenagers from years 8 and 9 participated, all students from a school in Amadora (a Lisbon suburb).

Pilot year: In phases I and II, 200 students from Escola Pedro D’Orey da Cunha participated, and for the implementation of the programme, 34 scientists from the CF were involved. In phase III, 30 students took part in five mentoring sessions with 17 scientists and, at the end, visited the CF laboratories. Within the mentoring sessions different projects were developed, with topics varying from the importance of women in science, to programming, from astronomy to molecular biology techniques.

The mentoring sessions were important to: i) connect science with society, particularly with young people from underserved communities, ii) create a space for students to explore scientific topics through hands-on/minds-on activities, most of which were originally developed around research by CF scientists, iii) demystify who scientists are, raise awareness about different careers in science and the scientific process, iv) promote longer interactions, based on the co-production of content guided by students, thus moving away from more traditional teaching models.

The possibility for students to visit the laboratories was also crucial for the students to experience science in an inclusive and international environment and to explore the fact that science is part of our everyday life. Although not all participants imagined themselves as scientists in the future, all of them, without exception, enjoyed the experience of participating in the CNM programme, meeting the scientists, doing experiments and visiting the CF.

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Funded by the European Commission. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Commission. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.