Do you remember what you wanted to be when you grew up back when you were a child? Astronaut, teacher, doctor, engineer... and, why not, a scientist? It is with the intention of expanding the range of possibilities for the future of the children who are in classrooms today, stimulating their interest in science careers from and adolescence, and improve the teaching of sciences in public schools of basic education that the Science in Schools Program (PCE) exists. If these students have, from basic education up to upper secondary education, the opportunity to learn, experiment, test, and observe science in a playful and inviting way, they may consider this a possible path not only for themselves but for the development of the country.
The initiative is a partnership between the Ministry of Education (MEC) and of Science, Technology, and Innovation (MCTI), the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq), and the Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education (CAPES). The National Education and Research Network (RNP) is responsible for the platform on which the program is managed, monitored, and evaluated, and its results are made available.
Among the actions planned in the PCE is the Call for Researchers, financed and coordinated by MCTI and CNPq. At this stage, the idea is that the projects are formulated jointly by researchers and the teachers from basic education to take advantage of the knowledge of both types of professionals and promote the rapprochement and exchange of experience between these two groups (scholars and teachers from basic education). The expectation is that funded projects can generate systematic scientific knowledge about the teaching of sciences and formulate applicable solutions through innovative, creative, and consistent actions for an effective change of science teaching in public schools in Brazil.
To mark the execution of this action, at the beginning of this month, on 4/3, in a Web Conferencing room, the "I Evaluation Seminar of the Science in School Program - Call for Researchers" took place to present the work carried out during 2020 by MCTI and CNPq with the project coordinators and updates about ongoing projects and set the next steps for 2021. Representatives of the institutions involved in this step participated in the opening of the event.
The Secretary of Research and Scientific Training at MCTI, Marcelo Morales, opened the ceremony by arguing that the initiative benefits not only students but society as a whole. "The Science in Schools Program is an initiative of great relevance that involves a commitment from MCTI and CNPq for the improvement of science teaching in basic education in our country. Nothing is more valuable than the education and learning of our children. With this event, we show the strength of the humanities and social sciences field in Brazil through such an important topic that reaffirms academic research and guides methodologies and innovations for the development of our country," he argued.
According to the Secretary, the results of the Call for Researchers will provide subsidies for the improvement of science teaching and will make it possible to test new teaching methodologies and bring scientists and schools closer, stimulating the rapport between academia and young students. Then, Marcelo Morales also presented the figures for the project.
He announced: "In the next step, we intend to implement resources for the pilot implementation of all these methodologies in pilot schools throughout the entire national territory. We will put experiences to practice."
Attending the session remotely as part of the panel, the Director of Institutional Cooperation from CNPq, Maria Zaira Turchi, highlighted the strategic importance of the education program: "Basic education, particularly public education, that focuses on knowledge through the scientific method, not only provides better education to our students but, in the future, we will have professionals who understand the relevance of science because that is the education they received in school. Today, we present to the government, managers, and society, in general, the importance of funding for science and its role for the development of any country, as well as to overcome any crisis."
This perspective is endorsed by Nelson Simões, Director General of RNP. "Science is the solution." Whenever we do not t know what to do, we do research. And this needs to reach the girls and boys who are learning daily in schools", he explains. Nelson also talked about the role of RNP in the initiative: "RNP gladly joined in from the beginning to support this action. This is our role. We are here to help and make things simpler, clearer, and more visible. May we be able to draw meaning from such an important purpose for the country and for all of us."
Others present at the opening of the Seminar included Adriana Tonini, Director of Engineering, Exact Sciences, Humanities and Social Sciences at CNPq; Carlos Antunes, Deputy Secretary of Science Organization and Promotion; Regina Silverio, director of the Center for Strategic Studies and Management; And Laercio Ferracioli, Head Professor and Director of Innovation and Dissemination of Science of the Provost of Extension Courses of the Federal University of Espírito Santo (UFES).
During the second part of the event, it was time for the coordinators to present their respective projects through the use of data gathered from the Science in Schools Program platform. They reported the major challenges on this journey and shared essential information for the planning of 2021.