Written by PiNA May 24, 2024

In today’s world, technology, science and social structures are changing rapidly. There is a growing need to engage young people in science in a way that fosters participation, creativity and innovation. The project “Dive IN – Participatory Science in Youth Work” is a great example of how youth organisations, scientific institutions and local communities can join forces to create something extraordinary together.

What is participatory science?

Participatory science (citizen science) is an approach that promotes active public participation in scientific research. It involves individuals with no formal scientific background in collecting data, carrying out experiments and analyzing the results. This brings science closer to the wider public, increases awareness of its importance, and encourages new forms of education and research.

Dive IN: Our path to innovation

The “Dive IN” project aims to do just that – to promote participatory science among young people. In collaboration with partners from Slovenia, Croatia, Italy and Belgium, we have carried out a series of activities to introduce youth workers and young people to the concept of participatory science. As part of the project, we organized 3 learning activities, which we would like to share with you some of our impressions:


Study visit to Dubrovnik

One of the key activities was a study visit to Dubrovnik, where we collaborated with the UR Institute and the Association of Technical Culture of Dubrovnik-Neretva County. Fifteen youth workers from the partner organisations visited different sites to learn about participatory science practices in youth work. We visited the Dubrovnik Youth Centre, the Lokrum Island Nature Reserve and met with local political decision-makers. The visit resulted in a deeper understanding of participatory science, an exchange of views and practices, and the establishment of important contacts with the local community.

Training of trainers in Udine

The project also organized a train-the-trainers session in Udine, which took place between 22 and 26 May 2023 and presented over 5 days the different activities that trainers can carry out with young people and youth workers to introduce them to the concept of participatory science. The objectives of the training were to encourage young people to participate in monitoring environmental and social phenomena, to use participatory science for community development and social change, and to provide youth workers with tools to integrate participatory science into their programs in order to strengthen democratic participation and autonomy. The training included an introduction, workshops on transforming spaces into laboratories, analysis of the environmental microbiome, systems thinking, workshops with Arduino devices, and the creation of ecological systems. Most of the activities took place at the Friuli Museum of Natural History, but participants also had the opportunity to experience the rich cultural heritage and culinary specialties of Udine.

Training for youth workers and representatives of participatory science organizations in Brussels

From 13 to 16 November 2023, a training for youth workers in the field of participatory science took place in Brussels. The training was aimed at empowering 20 youth workers and organization leaders from Italy, Belgium, Croatia and Slovenia to work with the concept of participatory science. Participants learned how to turn any space into a laboratory, engage young people and bring science to youth centres in an interesting and gamified way. The program included practical workshops, presentations from partner organisations, field visits and brainstorming on future projects to apply for in the EU. Most of the activities took place at the Gluon and CityFab1 premises in Brussels. We were also proud of the participants who conducted workshops on the last day for the representatives of the high school migrant youth program who visited us as part of the training. This allowed them to quickly test their competences. The training served as a great springboard for further projects, of which there are several, and we are already looking forward to the activities coming up in the coming months.


Final thoughts

The “Dive IN” project has shown the importance of involving young people in science activities in a participatory way. This not only increases their knowledge and skills, but also encourages their curiosity, creativity and sense of community. We are confident that, by working together, partners from different countries will be able to create sustainable and innovative solutions that will have a positive impact on young people and society at large.

This is the first article in a series of articles about the Dive in project, where we will present the different strands of the project and the results we have prepared for you.

“The project was funded by the European Union. However, the views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the European Union or the National Agency. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.”