Image | Steam Barcelona

A dynamic city is one that continuously offers its citizens the chance to interact with different institutions, disciplines and spaces through conferences, festivals and special programmes designed to promote participation and foster the desire to learn. Barcelona is one of these cities, whose government bodies, in collaboration with different public and private institutions, seek daily to encourage citizens to participate in activities designed to spark their curiosity about the world.

Music, cinema, art and photography, along with science, technology, innovation and education, are some of the themes around which the dozens of events scheduled every year by the City of Barcelona revolve. In April of 2015, for example, Barcelona bubbled over with science thanks to NOVUM, a science, technology and innovation festival, and the STEAM Barcelona conference, which focuses on analysing current educational methods in order to come up with technologically advanced solutions to improve them.


Image | Novum 2015

In 2015 NOVUM, the traditional Science Festival held in the city since 2007, revamped its name, image and programme to accommodate a society that is increasingly prepared to assimilate new technologies. With a view to exposing citizens to culture, from 14 to 30 April Disseny Hub Barcelona and other spaces like the MACBA, the Palau de la Virreina, and the Mobile World Centre serve as venues for chats, marathons, exhibitions, documentaries, performances, workshops, pop-ups, technological experiments and interactive science formats. Artists, creators, researchers and entrepreneurs participate in a programme aimed at all age groups and organised around five pillars: Arts and Interferences, Audio-visual Exhibit, Citizen Science, Novum Pro – which includes the field of education, research and business –  and La Festa (The Festival), which from 25 – 26 April will transform the Plaça de les Glòries (square) into a great laboratory.

The NOVUM 2015 programme includes firsts like the screening of the documentary Alive Inside, winner of an Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival, which explores the role of music in therapies against neurodegenerative diseases; the talk La aventura de aprender desde la ciencia (The Adventure of Learning Through Science), which takes the discussion to the university sphere; and the citizen science wikimarathon, which seeks to widely divulge this discipline.

On the same days as NOVUM the first international STEAM Barcelona conference is slated, featuring a series of panels under the slogan “Aprendre avui per resoldre el demà” (Learning Today to Solve the Problems of Tomorrow) that propose an alternative approach to the study of science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics. The STEAM learning model uses creativity, the stimulation of curiosity, teamwork and trial-and-error solutions to assume risks without fear and to learn from failure. In other words, it integrates Art into the already-established STEM model (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics), multiplying the possibilities of innovation by adding creative thought to the methodology.


Image | Steam Barcelona

Experts in the STEAM application from around the world met on 17 and 18 April at CosmoCaixa to exchange experiences and work methods in order to prepare today’s young people for a labour market that, down the road, will demand from them a series of technological abilities which they do not yet possess. The panels featured the participation of speakers like Yvonne Baker, executive president of Myscience and director of the National Science Learning Centre in York; Ioannis Miaoulis, president of the Boston Museum of Science; Ricard Huguet, president of the Fundació Scientia; and David Cuartielles, director of the University of Malmö’s Prototype Laboratory, and co-founder of the Arduino platform.

At the first international STEAM conference, in addition, seven local success stories were also presented, like the social robotics project applied to learning backed by the Col·legi Montserrat, the smart planting table at the Escola Rel and the mSchools Mobile History Map, which employs georeferencing in an interdisciplinary project. Seven very different cases sharing a common nexus: introducing a new educational model in which students play a prominent and active role.

Events like NOVUM 2015 and STEAM Barcelona join a complete list of initiatives promoted by the City of Barcelona that place the city among the most active on the European continent.