Bridging Insularity through STEM Education – a project by the Fulbrighters duo Andreia Martinho and Miguel Bessa
The Bridging Insularity Through STEM (BITS) project aimed at promoting STEM education as a two-way bridge connecting Madeira Island to national and international scientific and technological communities, thus bolstering social and economic development. It was developed by Andreia Martinho (Fulbright Masters 2011-2012) and Miguel Bessa (Fulbright PhD 2011-2016) and funded through the U.S. Embassy in Lisbon Small Alumni Grant. Within this project a Science activity took place in Escola da Fonte da Rocha, a Primary school located in Câmara de Lobos, a small fishing city in Madeira island with severe social problems. The students were third and fourth graders wise beyond their years and eager to participate and learn about the meaning and the different areas of Science, famous female scientists such as Elvira Fortunato, and 3D printing! After the presentations and a very interesting discussion with the aspiring scientists there was a BITS cake and juice. At a higher level, a BITS contest was organized to engage students and researchers working at University of Madeira as well as researchers working at Research Centers or Laboratories located in Madeira Island. Applicants submitted essays and research proposals on the topic “Using Science and Technology to strengthen Madeira’s Economy”. The winners, Sofia Inácio (PhD student in Automation and Instrumentation) and Sérgio Ribeiro (BS student in Computer Science), received their awards during the BITS Seminar which took place at University of Madeira on 04-01-2019. In this seminar Andreia Martinho presented the Fulbright Program and Miguel Bessa presented his cutting-edge research on the data-driven design of materials.