Two initiatives supported by Instituto TIM take scientific experiments on light to children from municipal schools in Natal (RN) and Campina Grande (PB). The projects from the Federal Institute of Education, Science, and Technology of Rio Grande do Norte (IFRN) and the Federal University of Campina Grande (UFCG) were contemplated in the public notice to support science and technology museums and centers, launched in 2015 by Instituto TIM in partnership with the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq).

The project Luz em Sete Tons (Light in Seven Shades), from IFRN, proposes experiments to children from 4 to 9 years from the Application School of the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte and other schools in Natal. Each activity received the name of one of the rainbow colors and will be present with details in seven booklets for teachers, that will be distributed in nearly 80 schools. Until the end of 2017, the materials will be available in a website, which will also have videos, animations and other resources.

Subjects such as astronomy and white light breakdown will be approached. The students will participate on workshops like a house of mirrors and experiments with lights of different colors. “The idea is to stimulate the interest of children and show that science is accessible to everyone and not only something for scientists in their laboratories; we just have to think as scientists”, explains the project coordinator, Jacques Cousteau da Silva Borges.
The team has already developed scientific promotion activities to High School students, but this is the first time children are included. “This is a moment to try methodologies, to see what works better with children and to develop a material that can be further used by other teachers”, he says.

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In Campina Grande, the project Produção da Luz: Espectros Contínuos e Espectros Discretos (Light Production: Continuous Spectrum and Discrete Spectrum), of UFCG, will invite children from 8 to 10 years old to make experiments on concepts related to light. There will be 3 days of activities with colors and lights, in addition to make a homemade spectroscope. In the 4th day, students will go to UFCG campus to test their spectroscopes. Children will also receive a book on the nature of light, with explanations, exercises and a guide to assemble the equipment. The forecast is that at least 300 children will be involved.

Teachers from participant schools spend a day of training before taking the project to classrooms. Students with degree in Physics and Education from UFCG follow up the teachers. The project is coordinated by Alexandre Campos, from the Physics department, in partnership with Maria das Graças Oliveira, from the Education department. The result of the work in the schools will be a research material.

The purpose of this project is to work with complex themes with children and stimulate curiosity. “School gives too much value to concepts. In science, we do not learn only concepts, but also procedures”, says the coordinator. He explains that the mistakes children do during the activities are essential for scientific learning because they are encouraged to not give up and make new tests.

In total, 50 projects related to light and scientific dissemination for children from 4 to 10 years old were select by the public notice of Instituto TIM and CNPq. The theme was chosen to commemorate the International Year of Light, celebrated in 2015. Projects of 18 states from all regions of Brazil were approved. The public notice is part of the line of support to science and technology museums and centers accomplished by Instituto TIM since 2012.