2 Universidad de Extremadura (SPAIN)
3 IES San Roque (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2014 Proceedings
Publication year: 2014
Pages: 3986-3994
ISBN: 978-84-616-8412-0
ISSN: 2340-1079
Conference name: 8th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 10-12 March, 2014
Location: Valencia, Spain
There are many activities to spread in our society Science and Scientific research. However, most of them are oriented to an audience that can freely assist to science fairs and conferences. This is not the case for communities with risks of social exclusion, such as the interns of penitentiary institutions. This is the reason why a work group formed by professors of the Badajoz Penitentiary Center (BPC), the San Roque High School of Badajoz, and the University of Extremadura (UEx) started in October 2012 a series of science divulgation activities at the BPC to approach the basics of science to incarcerated men and women. Our goal is to motivate them and to arise their curiosity for the knowledge and understanding of natural phenomena, their taste for knowing, as well as providing them with basics skills and information. This is to contribute to their preparation for reinsertion into society by the end of their penal term. This work is the core of the project “Science for everyone”, a collaborative project between the UEx and the General Secretary of the Spanish Penitentiary Institutions.

Along the academic year 2012-2013 we visited the BPC three times to carry out three different activities to introduce the phenomena of surface tension, paper chromatography and communicating vessels, and they were organized as follows: First, we give an overview of the experience and basic scientific background, and then we perform the experiment. In total, each activity is between 2 and 3 hours long, including the professors’ introduction (using multimedia presentations) and the experiments that proceed with the active participation of the inmates.

The average number of participants in each activity was around 25 inmates. Their academic levels as well as their ages were very diverse. Their participation is conditioned by their academic level. In addition, because of the changes in the custody conditions and legal status of the inmates, the participants varied from one activity to another. It is therefore difficult to make a personalized record of the satisfaction of the participants. In any case, after each one of the activities was finished, the inmates anonymously evaluate the organization, participation and subject of the experience by means of an “evaluation dartboard”. The results have been extremely satisfactory. Note, however, that the inmates are very sensitive to any event of this kind, given the hardship of their imprisonment.

Each activity gives the professors the opportunity to face new professional challenges. For the BPC professors, they are a new kind of activity to offer to their alumni. As for the San Roque High School and UEx professors, the dramatic change in the characteristics of their listeners requires the use of new teaching strategies and the adaptation of the message delivered and educational objectives. Although the activities are reviewed and approved by the BPC board, there is a certain sense of insecurity that needs to be overcome. Thus, the activity turns out to be an extraordinary professional and personal experience; a very gratifying task with a valuable social dimension, which will also be continued in the present academic year, 2013-2014.