University of São Paulo: Science Ambassadors Project teaches scientific research to young people

With the objective of combating misinformation, a project by the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences of Ribeirão Preto (FCFRP) at USP brings concepts and notions about the stages of scientific research to schools, with content presented online by students and professors from USP. From the classes, it is expected that students are able to discern what is right and wrong, what makes sense or not, within the current scientific context.

The first experience of the Science Ambassadors project was developed in partnership with the Marist College of the city from the presentation of videos and lives that address the basic principles of vaccines and the dangers of misinformation. Professor Carolina Aires, from FCFRP, one of the coordinators of the initiative, says that the project, started in 2021 with the participation of 40 students, continues this year at Colégio Marista and will also be presented to other schools outside the State of São Paulo. “The intention is to reach more and more schools.”

Wasim Aluísio Prates-Syed, a graduate of the FCFRP and currently a post-graduate student at the Institute of Biomedical Sciences (ICB) at USP, explains that “at the end of each project cycle, students produce scientific dissemination work (videos and newsletters) to the school community, debunking fake news and using critical thinking awakened from the content taught in the project activities”.

According to the graduate student, through scientific dissemination activities, students, in addition to the content, “learn ways to research and transform scientific content into more friendly material for the lay public, promoting the circulation of correct and verified information” .

For Syed, the best part of the project is seeing the work of these students, who are young and fully immersed in social media. “This way we can show that these electronic and social tools are useful for knowledge as a whole, as well as being a way to attract them to higher education and even update the academic environment, and above all to show that, even young people, they have a high

Guilherme Yuzo Hirano Nisiyama, 14, a 9th grader and a participant in the project, excitedly tells Jornal da USP that one of the best parts of the Science Ambassadors project was working as a scientific disseminator, which enabled him to “fight for a great cause” ”. He cited as an example the information received about vaccines. “Teamwork and research in reliable sources were extremely important for us to add a lot of knowledge at the end of our participation in the project, mainly through interaction with the University professors.”

Information about vaccines also caught the attention of student Gabriel Henrique Ariede Reinhardt Graciano da Silva, also 13 years old and a 9th grader. For Silva, “knowing more about science helps us not to fall into fake news”.

And Guilherme adds that “we must always encourage people to seek knowledge from reliable sources, since urban legends have circulated since the beginning of the history of vaccination that have hindered the reduction of pandemics over time”.

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