BRINGING SCIENCE TO SECONDARY SCHOOL: A MOTIVATING STRATEGY INVOLVING PHD STUDENTS

The gap between secondary school and university studies and the lack of connections between both periods of education hinder the improvement of the educational system and the strengthening of the teaching and learning process. For this reason, it is essential to coordinate both cycles and provides students and teachers adequate tools to perform a successful transition period.
It is common that many students arrive at their first bachelor course without a clear understanding about the real aim of the field of study in which they will be involved. In many cases, they are unaware of the skills they need to develop during their university studies or their role as future professionals. In addition, many lecturers have a deep disconnection with the current state of high school education, which could have an important influence in the correct development of the university level education.
In this sense, it is essential to search strategies that allow getting both stages closer, providing students a real view of their future and showing them the application and importance of the concepts learned. This aspect could play an important role on their motivation. Apart from that, the involvement of not only professors and lecturers in this process but also of PhD students that want to follow their careers in the academia is also important. They will be the next generation of teachers and they should be adequately prepared for that.
The use of practical experiences in which students can develop experiments reviewing concepts that they studied in their textbooks has shown excellent results in their motivation, helping them to better select their real interests. That is why, the performance of seminars in which PhD students can show the relationship between their daily laboratory work and basic chemical concepts is an interesting strategy to achieve such aims.
In this work, the performance of practical seminars focused on the study of nanoscience and their applications has been developed in different scholar centres by PhD students. This approach has results to be an interesting alternative to encourage students to discover the importance of science and its application in daily life, as well as to stimulate the doctorands to their future work. The suitability of the strategy was evaluated taking into account the views of students, PhD lecturers, and teachers about the process.