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Effective participatory science education in a diverse Latin American population


  • Leonardo M. R. Ferreira

    (Clubes de Ciencia Bolivia Foundation
    University of California San Francisco)

  • Giovanni A. Carosso

    (Clubes de Ciencia Bolivia Foundation
    Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine)

  • Natalia Montellano Duran

    (Clubes de Ciencia Bolivia Foundation)

  • Soad V. Bohorquez-Massud

    (Clubes de Ciencia Bolivia Foundation
    Harvard Medical School)

  • Gustavo Vaca-Diez

    (Clubes de Ciencia Bolivia Foundation
    Italian Hospital of Buenos Aires)

  • Laura Ines Rivera-Betancourt

    (Clubes de Ciencia Bolivia Foundation
    Salamanca University)

  • Yara Rodriguez

    (Clubes de Ciencia Bolivia Foundation
    Northwestern University)

  • Dalila G. Ordonez

    (Clubes de Ciencia Bolivia Foundation
    Harvard University)

  • Diana K. Alatriste-Gonzalez

    (Clubes de Ciencia Bolivia Foundation
    Charité CrossOver, Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin)

  • Aldo Vacaflores

    (Clubes de Ciencia Bolivia Foundation)

  • Lilian Gonzalez Auza

    (Clubes de Ciencia Bolivia Foundation
    Technological University of Berlin)

  • Christian Schuetz

    (Clubes de Ciencia Bolivia Foundation
    Massachusetts General Hospital)

  • Lucia Elena Alvarado-Arnez

    (Clubes de Ciencia Bolivia Foundation
    Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz))

  • Carolina V. Alexander-Savino

    (Clubes de Ciencia Bolivia Foundation
    Rochester General Hospital Research Institute)

  • Omar Gandarilla

    (Clubes de Ciencia Bolivia Foundation
    Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center)

  • Mohammed A. Mostajo-Radji

    () (Clubes de Ciencia Bolivia Foundation
    University of California San Francisco)


Particular challenges exist for science education in the developing world, where limited resources require curricula designed to balance state-of-the-art knowledge with practical and political considerations in region-specific contexts. Project-based biology teaching is especially difficult to execute due to high infrastructural costs and limited teacher training. Here, we report the results of implementing short, challenging, and low-cost biology courses to high school and college students in Bolivia, designed and taught in collaboration between scientists from developed nations and local science instructors. We find our approach to be effective at transmitting advanced topics in disease modeling, microscopy, genome engineering, neuroscience, microbiology, and regenerative biology. We find that student learning through this approach was not significantly affected by their background, education level, socioeconomic status, or initial interest in the course. Moreover, participants reported a heightened interest in pursuing scientific careers after course completion. These results demonstrate efficacy of participatory learning in a developing nation, and suggest that similar techniques could drive scientific engagement in other developing economies.

Suggested Citation

  • Leonardo M. R. Ferreira & Giovanni A. Carosso & Natalia Montellano Duran & Soad V. Bohorquez-Massud & Gustavo Vaca-Diez & Laura Ines Rivera-Betancourt & Yara Rodriguez & Dalila G. Ordonez & Diana K. A, 2019. "Effective participatory science education in a diverse Latin American population," Palgrave Communications, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 5(1), pages 1-18, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:pal:palcom:v:5:y:2019:i:1:d:10.1057_s41599-019-0275-0
    DOI: 10.1057/s41599-019-0275-0

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