Salvarezza opened the dissemination conference: “Educating the brain”

The event involves several talks for teachers of different levels of education held at the Colegio Nacional de Buenos Aires.

Epígrafe: Salvarezza and Zorzoli at the dissemination conference “Educating the Brain”. Photo: CONICET photography

The president of the National Scientific and Technical Research Council (CONICET), Roberto Salvarezza, and the rector of the Colegio Nacional de Buenos Aires, Gustavo Zorzoli, attended the opening of the dissemination conference that aim to strengthen the nexus between the scientific and the academic community.

In the framework of CONICET’s Scientific Vocation Programme, a group of researchers delivered different talks to teachers with the objective of transferring scientific advances in education, learning, pedagogy and neurosciences. More than 400 people attended the event.

Salvarezza reflected upon the importance of working on “the social dissemination of science and the promotion of scientific vocations.” Besides, he remarked the need to transmit knowledge using accessible language. “Scientists have to be capable of transmitting their work to the society,” he indicated. Furthermore, he added that “a country that fosters an economy based in knowledge demands highly qualified human resources and thus needs scientific vocations”.

Zorzoli congratulated the researchers on their talk and referred to the complexity of carrying out this type of activities where different actors participate. At the same time, he invited other researchers and teachers with that kind of initiatives to carry forward.

Fabricio Ballarini, CONICET independent researcher at the Institute of Cellular Biology and Neuroscience “Professor E. De Robertis” (ICBN, CONICET-UBA), explained the difference between short and long term memory, its storage and behavioral labeling. “A task is remembered if it is associated to novelty”, he explained and showed a trial to 1600 students of primary school at the auditorium. Through the experiment, the researcher demonstrated that by altering the routine of a kid during 20 minutes, with a novel class, the kid’s learning performance of a topic taught one hour before or after that class improved by 60%.

Then, Pedro Bekinschtein, also CONICET researcher at the ICBN, spoke about the relationship between the human brain and decision-making. Some of the topics presented at the beginning of the talk were: rational and intuitive processes, good and bad stress and their interference in resolving a problem. Furthermore, with films and games with the audience, he demonstrated how we apply “willful blindness” to focus our attention on one point in the scene we are watching. He elucidated the fact that we select only one part of that scene to find the information we are looking for and we stop watching the things that happen around it.

Cecilia Calero, CONICET researcher at the Integral Neuroscience Laboratory of the Faculty of Exact and Natural Sciences of the University of Buenos Aires, lectured on the importance of joining together neuroscience with education for the promotion of mutual benefit and dialogue. She presented “Little teachers”, an experimental protocol that suggests kids for the place of the transmitters. She also talked about language, ostensive cues, referential and non-referential gestures. “Kids understand the relevance of the use of non-verbal signs”, Calero indicated and affirmed that “kids can teach”. Thus, she suggested considering students not only as receptors and proposed class work different apart from the traditional.

Another researcher of the Council who participated in the conference was Melina Furman, who works at the School of Education of the University of San Andrés. She spoke about scientific thinking as the key objective of schooling. Furman highlighted the value of promoting analytical skill and scientific thinking in kids to enhance their performance. “It has nothing to do with do with cognitive development, it is related to what is taught or not in science lessons,” the scientist noted. Thus, she remarked the need to deepen argumentation and data analysis for the development of mental skills.

Malena Winograd, coordinator of the Creative Science and Technology Programme of the National Ministry of Education of Argentina and Sangari company, explored the application of neuroscientific knowledge in the classroom by applying practical exercises to improve their learning in mathematics or language.

The conference was organized by the Memory Laboratory of the ICBN together with the Colegio Nacional de Buenos Aires and the support of CONICET, Vorterix Rock FM and El Otro Mate Magazine.