Science education and biomedical challenges

Supporting students to improve decision making skills based on scientific reasoning using health-related educational resources

Supported by La Caixa Foundation

What is it?

La Caixa Foundation is a Spanish private foundation that directs its efforts on projects fostering education and research, focusing particularly on science, environment and social welfare. 

La Caixa Foundation, with IrsiCaixa and in collaboration with Amgen Foundation, developed Xplore Health, an educational programme, whose main objective is to promote knowledge on biomedical topics and the connections of these research with societal and ethical aspects. 

The portal of the initiative contains more than 250 educational resources, with the aim to facilitate wider and deeper understanding of Research and Innovation aspects for young students, maintained alive also through the community around the initiative, which includes a network of pilot schools, and training activities.

The package comprises 8 thematic modules, tackling some of the great themes and challenges of our time:

  1. How are drugs developed?
  2. The biotechnology revolution
  3. Skin cancer exposed
  4. Toward a malaria-free world
  5. A crisis of fat?
  6. Towards AIDS eradication
  7. Rethinking mental health
  8. Down to the genes

Each module includes a variety of resources for teachers and students, such as videos on current research findings, lesson plans and worksheets, virtual experiments, games and debates, classroom activities and guides for the teachers to use them. 

The teaching guide support the process of implementing the practices and each modules in activities with students, providing the teachers with all the needed knowledge to prepare and get started. Each guide is organised in two parts: state of art (up to date background information on the module topic); ELSA - Ethical, Legal and Social Aspects (overview and prompts for reflection and discussion). 

Who is if for?

The set of resources are designed to be used within activities with secondary school students 15-18.

The activities foster also collaboration among teachers, students, researchers and science museums.

The resources can be used in any other educational activity related to science subjects, including adult education and informal contexts. Some resources such as the games can be also used as standalone in activities with younger students or easily source of inspiration to design new resources adapting the content to other grades programmes.

What are the strengths and opportunities?

Xplore Health promotes a participative and multi-stakeholder approach, at all levels, and foster learning of key STEM skills such as critical thinking, problem solving and evidence-based decision making, to support young people in the being active and responsible citizens of tomorrow. 

The organisation of the resources in modules based on macro-topics supports multidisciplinary intrinsically, while the links to specific school subjects and single concepts is still easily made. 

Furthermore, each set includes resources to support the full workflow to plan, carry out and follow-up science-related activities at school, while each of them can also be used as standalone, in a flexible way, for short introductory activities to year-long science projects.

Tips and tricks

These resources can be used to support a wide variety of activities in the class and outside:

  • integrate great challenges and key topics of the contemporary world together with basic science concepts in lessons and classroom activities, for example using the videos as introduction to each lesson to support engagement and connections with news and other elements of the students life
  • prompt and create reflection and discussion sessions on both scientific and Ethical, Legal and Social Aspects (ELSA) and their links, also using card and online games and debate outlines
  • develop career education and orientation activities, to prepare students to get in contact with the world of work, for example carrying out interview with professionals or information campaigns about key science topics
  • carry out long term research-like science projects at school, to foster a deep understanding of research and innovation processes and to collaborate with the research community, using the full set of resources for each module (from introductory lessons to experiments and final discussion)