This November, SENsory Atelier Programme Manager Bob Christer spent a week in Berlin representing the Atelier Labs programme as a selected winner in the Science Engagement category as part of the international Falling Walls Engage Awards. An incredible achievement and opportunity to share the work of the SENsory Atelier.
Falling Walls Engage is the global platform for Science Engagement hosted by the Falling Walls Foundation and supported by the Robert Bosch Stiftung. They believe that public trust and involvement in science plays a central role in addressing global challenges, achieving the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, and contributing to the overall wellbeing of society.
In the Science Engagement (Falling Walls Engage) category, awards were given to projects that promote the transfer and co-creation of scientific knowledge, foster two-way Science Engagement and actively involve society in scientific processes. During the Pitch Day, 20 Falling Walls Engage participants from 19 countries presented their projects.
With only 5 minutes for the pitch followed by 3 minutes of questions, Bob Christer shared the Atelier Labs programme which grew from the idea of using art to empower young people with SEND to become researchers, explore the world around them, make and test their own hypotheses and embed learning through tangible experiences. Watch Bob’s presentation on stage by clicking here.
The project forms part of a five-year programme called SENsory Atelier, which works with nine SEND (special educational needs and disabilities) schools in Leicestershire. The initiative’s purpose is to explore how art and creativity can develop foundational learning skills applicable to wider curricular areas
The approach is heavily informed by the work of Reggio Children in northern Italy, and Sightlines Initiative and House of Imagination here in the UK. It treats young people as collaborators in their own education, rather than empty vessels that need to be filled with knowledge.
“I was really privileged to be there and represent the voices of the young people we work with” said Bob Christer, as he reflected on how joyful and meaningful the experience was to share his work with colleagues from across the world.
“We are proud to have initiated Falling Walls Engage which has surpassed our expectations”, says Henry Alt-Haaker, Jury Co-Chair and Senior Vice President Strategic Partnerships and Robert Bosch Academy at Robert Bosch Stiftung, founding partner of Falling Walls Engage. “We have been impressed by the variety of this year’s applications: More than 200 projects from 70 countries with an impressive range of topics, methods, and ideas. Their impact on science backed evidence-based decision making cannot be overestimated.”
This year Yamilée Toussaint received the main title for her work for ‘Breaking The Wall to Diversity in STEM through Dance’. Her project focuses on STEM education for underrepresented minority girls through the creative and confidence-building aspects of dance to code lights, use drones to film, create music, and mutual support in STEM education.
Through this incredible experience, Bob has made connections with researchers at the University of Edinburgh and the University of Cambridge to expand upon the work of SENsory Atelier and the Atelier Labs programme. There are also two new Atelier Lab residencies starting in the new year with artists working with SEND schools across Leicestershire.
Congratulations Bob! An incredible achievement and recognition for ground-breaking work that helps to place SEND children at the forefront of their own educations. To learn more about the Learning Teams work visit our Learning page.