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First Open Science Centre Engages Rural Communities with Science, Technology and Innovation
13 July 2017

Last Friday, the first location of the Open Science Centre network, Plataforma de Ciência Aberta, opened during the StixCamp workshop 2017 in Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo, Portugal. The Portuguese Minister of Economy, Manuel Caldeira Cabral and the State Secretary of Science, Technology and Higher Education, Fernanda Rollo, inaugurated the Platform, which is a collaboration between Leiden University and the municipality of Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo.

On 6 July, in Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo in Portugal, local citizens, scientists, science communicators and educators gathered with representatives of local and national governments, to discuss the role of science, technology and innovation on the development of rural communities at .

The 4-day programme offered panel discussions with engaging speakers working in the areas of Science, Technology and innovation and informal ‘unconference sessions’. “This year,” says one of the local hosts Maria Vicente, “we focussed especially on community participation, by organising meetings in Portuguese at local establishments.”

Plataforma de Ciência Aberta maintains the historic architecture of the former school building.
Plataforma de Ciência Aberta maintains the historic architecture of the former school building.

On 7 July 2017, the Portuguese minister of Minister of Economy, Manuel Caldeira Cabral, officially opened Plataforma de Ciência Aberta, the first Open Science Centre. The minister added: “This important infrastructure generates value for tourism, a key sector for this region, and creates impact in the surrounding communities through innovation.”

shares the vision of Universe Awareness of “inspiring every Child with our Wonderful Universe.” The OSC are equipped with UNAWE resources, like Earth Balls and Universe in a Box.

Visitors from the local community exploring the Open Science Centre: Plataforma de Ciência Aberta.
Young visitors from the local community exploring the makerspace of the Open Science Centre: Plataforma de Ciência Aberta.

Plataforma de Ciência Aberta is located in an upcycled school building in Barca d'Alva, next to the Douro river, and combines modern design with historic architecture. The Open Science Centre will support the surrounding schools and their communities in co-creating solutions for local challenges using Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM).

During the opening, visitors explored the new building, a temporary , and the new makerspace of the Open Science Centre. During the panel discussion at the end of the day, the Secretary of State of Science, Technology and Higher Education, Maria Fernanda Rollo, expressed her support of the project and announced the intention to allocate additional resources to stimulate Open Science practices on a national level through local initiatives.

StixCamp 2017 informal panel at the Open Science Platform with Maria Fernanda Rollo, Secretary of State of Science, Technology and Higher Education.
StixCamp 2017 informal panel at the Open Science Platform with Maria Fernanda Rollo, Secretary of State of Science, Technology and Higher Education.

Plataforma de Ciência Aberta fosters collaboration between schools, local government, enterprises, research institutes, civil society and community at large to tackle local challenges. According to Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo mayor Paulo Langrouva, “Projects like these add value to the community of Figueira by bringing science, technology and education to the local communities, creating a sustainable environment for future generations.”

The Plataforma de Ciência Aberta is part of the international Open Science Centre network of STEAM learning spaces in rural communities, coordinated by Leiden University (through Leiden Observatory, Astronomy & Society Group). Plataforma de Ciência Aberta is a collaborative project of (the Netherlands) and the municipality of Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo in Portugal.

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Plataforma de Ciência Aberta maintains the historic architecture of the former school building.
Plataforma de Ciência Aberta maintains the historic architecture of the former school building.
Collage with aerial view of former building of the Open Science Platform and the upcycled Open Science Platform.
Collage with aerial view of former building of the Open Science Platform and the upcycled Open Science Platform.
The minister of Economy, Manuel Caldeira Cabral, and the mayor of Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo Paulo Langrouva with StixCamp 2017 participants during the inauguration of the Open Science Platform.
The minister of Economy, Manuel Caldeira Cabral, and the mayor of Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo Paulo Langrouva with StixCamp 2017 participants during the inauguration of the Open Science Platform.
Visitors from the local community exploring the makerspace of the Open Science Centre: Plataforma de Ciência Aberta.
Visitors from the local community exploring the makerspace of the Open Science Centre: Plataforma de Ciência Aberta.
Plataforma de Ciência Aberta maintains the historic architecture of the former school building.
Plataforma de Ciência Aberta maintains the historic architecture of the former school building.
StixCamp 2017 informal panel at the Open Science Platform with Maria Fernanda Rollo, Secretary of State of Science, Technology and Higher Education.
StixCamp 2017 informal panel at the Open Science Platform with Maria Fernanda Rollo, Secretary of State of Science, Technology and Higher Education.
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