When compared with other science festivals, the BergamoScienza experience stands out primarily due to its innovative, unusual relationship with schools.
Beginning with the third edition in 2005, the festival’s founder, Raffaella Ravasio, came up with the brilliant idea of involving the schools in a whole new way and enlisted the help of local schoolteachers. The schools were no longer merely festival attendees but took on an active role in the festival.
Teachers and students from various schools accepted the challenge to independently plan, create and conduct interactive workshops and scientific experiences for the festival’s attendees.
This allows the schools to promote scientific knowledge, providing a peer-to-peer learning opportunity for other schools and informal education to the general public which helps to strengthen the critical rapport between science and an aware and informed citizenship.
Over the years, the involvement of the students even in planning and obtaining the resources for the workshops has given them a genuine feel for the world of science and experiments far beyond what they’ll learn from a traditional curriculum, which is too often reduced to simply memorizing material.
But, above all, this approach has clearly changed students’ relationship with their school, its organization and scheduling.
In addition, the students are far more motivated and forge a stronger bond with the school. In fact, this experience often helps put borderline students back on track and showcases their skills.
We have watched the student guides grow as they personally handle the various aspects of their project. They build communications and relationship skills, learn how to interact with many different types of people and in various situations, become competent in dealing with the unexpected and hone their ability to organize and delegate work. The acquisition of such skills helps mould informed citizens who will be well-integrated socially and professionally.
Over the years, teachers and students have gained expertise in a field due to the festival. This has prompted them to participate in national and international competitions. Many have garnered praise for their work, particularly in the fields of digital technology and robotics.
With expertise and enthusiasm, the school committee works with the schools, teachers and students. All volunteers, many are current or former teachers. Professionals representing the local school district are also committee members.
The school committee, convened by the Secretary General according to the current Statutes, evaluates the schools’ projects, indicates any specific needs to the Organizing Committee and follows the projects from the planning phase to completion, all the while offering expert help.