The Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown is one of the first Academias Gulbenkian do Conhecimento
Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown is one of the first institutions participating in a new programme of the Gulbenkian Foundation, called “Academias Gulbenkian do Conhecimento”. This programme targets children and young people up to 25 years of age, with the goal of creating novel approaches that will equip the participants to successfully navigate our rapidly changing world. The application to the programme has been a competitive one, with 589 project applications from all across Portugal that resulted in the selection of only 34 projects, reflecting a success rate of about 5%.
The first Academias Gulbenkian do Conhecimento during the kick-off meeting at the Gulbenkian Foundation. Photo credit: Márcia Lessa.
The project designed by a group of science communicators and scientists at Champalimaud, will endeavour to develop communication, problem-solving and creative-thinking skills in high-school students by engaging them in a pioneering fieldwork programme in neuroscience.Throughout a series of training sessions at the Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown, followed by a neuroscience boot camp, participants will learn how to make observations of animal behaviour, and how to measure those in a quantitative and qualitative way by using open source hardware and software tools. “Rather than democratising the motivations and incentives to do science, we aim to democratise 'how to do science, the tools, the procedures, the processes”, says Gonçalo Lopes, neuroscientist and Director of NeuroGEARS, a technology company bridging neuroscience, games, interaction, and robotics.
According to Catarina Ramos, the coordinator of the science communication office at Champalimaud Research, recent technological advances have made resources for independent learning and experimentation readily available to the general public. However, she points out that “most of these tools are meaningless if you don’t know how to use them. If our Academia Gulbenkian do Conhecimento works, participants can quite literally walk away from the programme and, given the knowledge, start doing science the next day for virtually zero cost.”
The Academia of the Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown is the product of a collaborative effort of a multidisciplinary group of people, which includes members of the science communication office, scientists from several Champalimaud Research labs and alumni of Champalimaud’s graduate programme.