The Interactive Technologies Institute President Nuno Nunes visited his primary school in Funchal, on Madeira Island. During this Friday, he joined a science communication programme and showed the young students what a scientist’s life is like.
A different afternoon in Funchal
Nuno Nunes arrived in the early afternoon at the Escola Básica da Pena in Funchal. It has been 44 years since he left to become a computer engineer. The crowd of 10-year-olds spent 90 minutes with Nuno Nunes, who taught them the basics of coding using Sphero Edu. “It was a unique experience to return here after all these years. More importantly, it was a great opportunity to talk about my work and hopefully inspire children to pursue the careers they love”, he said.
Students also learned how Artificial Intelligence works using ChatGPT to impersonate their favourite heroes, such as Cristiano Ronaldo. Nuno Nunes also shared the work on the Arcadia Project with the primary school students. It is a PhD project he supervises that focuses on communicating information about climate change. These activities kickstarted the programme’s second year, running on Madeira Island for the first time.
A mission of scientific literacy
‘Cientista Regressa à Escola’ is the name of the nationwide initiative that aims to promote scientific culture and literacy by challenging researchers to return to their primary schools. From its beginning in September 2021, the programme team has already paired 16 scientists with their primary schools. “We want to assure that every child in Portugal, no matter their background, can meet a scientist from their hometown before transitioning to middle school”, says Joana Bordalo, the programme coordinator. She estimates that 24 other researchers will have participated by the end of the year.
The school visit derives from the partnership between Instituto Superior Técnico and Cientista Regressa à Escola. Through this partnership, IST is promoting the science communication skills of its researchers. Moreover, they encourage scientific literacy in Portugal, tackling inequalities in access to science and thus helping create bridges between science, schools and society.