STEAM and the city
Barcelona is quite literally picking up STEAM when it comes to science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics. The City Council wants to make sure that everybody has the capacity to get involved in the future, leaving nobody behind.
From the creative community in Poblenou’s Maker District to Fab Labs, the city has been promoting the transformational power of STEAM in environments geared towards digital empowerment, training and inclusion.
Fab Labs are places where citizens are empowered to produce creative projects that have a social impact. As with going to a library or civic centre, anyone can go there to share knowledge, tools, practices and processes.
For example, one of the city’s five Fab Labs is La Fàbrica del Sol, once an old gas manufacturing factory that used to light all of the neighbourhoods of Barcelona. Today the new home for sustainability is a laboratory for studying renewable energies, a source of inspiration for the use of technology and creativity to solve our big challenges.
The city’s STEAM workshops and maker education come in the form of schools, extra-curricular and outreach programmes, clubs, workshops, hackerspaces and events such as the STEAM Conference and the Maker Faire Barcelona.
Maker Faire Barcelona is a two-day event where open-source communities showcase their projects – from grassroots to super-advanced research-centre projects.
STEAM Conference give teachers the opportunity to discover cutting edge technologies, hold discussions and reflect on what goes on in the classroom.
The city also has a tradition of associations and cooperatives working with neighbourhoods to enable the creation of social digital inclusion projects. Such education starts at primary school.
SokoTech is a citizen-led laboratory dedicated to social innovation projects that creates STEAM projects with neighbourhoods, foundations, libraries and civic centres: Soko Breakers Lab puts digital skills at the disposal of foster kids and refugees. Raval’s Colectic has been working with young people for 20 years.
Working in collaboration with the Pare Manel Foundation and funded by "We are promoting what you do" grants, the MESH project is aimed at teaching teachers: to create a programme of ethical standards that can apply to any Fab Lab in the world.
These are just a few of the projects, places and events that bring people together and provide hands-on access to digital technology and fab lab tools.
One of the best things about open source, open hardware, open software communities and digital culture is that they help people to connect and enable them to participate.
The key is for there to be more children and women in technology and for everybody to be able to obtain such knowledge. And Barcelona is making that happen.
Watch ► SokoTech cofounder Mariona A. Ciller chats with Antònia Folguera, a curator at Sónar+D, a conference held within the framework of the Sónar music festival which focuses on creativity, technology and digital culture as a whole.
More videos about digital social innovation in Barcelona: