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Phase 1: Science education for young minds

Updated: Aug 24, 2019

La Sierra, Colombia

Project leads: Paloma Bernal and supported by Patricia Bernal

Phase I : Pilot science education workshops carried out on June 20 & 21st, 2019

What: Exploring sustainable strategies and Involving children and teenagers in Science, Technology and Innovation.

Challenge: La Sierra is a small town in Cesar, Colombia, located near coal mines. Industry has negatively impacted the community along with past violence. Children drop out due to poverty and those who finish school cannot find work.

Local initiatives: Women and farmers are motivated to tackle poverty and have set up informal groups to help each other and to search for assistance

Gaps: There is a lack of technical and economic support from the local government and help from organisations has been unsuccessful.

Initiative: Paloma and Patricia planned technological and creative workshops for 30 children and teenagers on June 20th & 21st

• 2 workshops for teenagers (12-16 years old) called ‘Noise’;

• 1 workshop for children (6-11 years old) called ‘Conductive Playdo’.

Research: Paloma and Patricia met with community leaders and a women’s organisation ‘Warrior Women of La Sierra’ and discussed challenges in the town

More about the project context:

La Sierra is a small and marginalised town with a total of 700 inhabitants located in the rural area of the department of Cesar, Colombia. The Afro-descendant community in this area has constantly fought over the land since historical times and has faced the negative effects of mining. Some of these effects are genetic malformation of children, environmental contamination, prostitution, breakdown of social fabric, and disappearance of community values. The social and economic problems of this community as well as the issues of corruption and political conflict in the area have been ignored by the national government since decades. The community also have poor socio-economic conditions and have to deal with a difficult political situation.

There are no drinking supply systems, a considerable part of the population is living in extreme poverty and there are persistently high levels of unemployment. In addition, high levels of corruption are evidenced by the poor delivery of public services and in the building of useless infrastructure. In order to tackle these conditions, several women and farmers have organised themselves and capitalised collective action through the formation of associations for different purposes, for instance, productive projects such as fishing and chicken production.

The projects, however, were unsuccessful due to the lack of technical assistance and environmental stresses. The community has also organised strikes and workshops to raise awareness about climate change and peace values to tackle the violence problems in the area.

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