Projects to increase students’ scientific capital through experimental tests, science fairs

The scientific experiences, references, knowledge and resources that surround a person during his or her life build his or her scientific capital. Although the trends linked to the parity of female and male professionals in the fields of science and technology are positive, there are still stereotypes that maintain open the existing gap between the number of boys and girls enrolled in technical and engineering university studies. This is perhaps due to the lack of role models at an early age, especially in extracurricular activities that cause students not to see themselves reflected in professional engineering activities. This work collects the latest initiatives carried out through the collaboration between ElHuyar and ENEDI groups to promote science capital among high school students and to enhance the talent in STEM lines. Thus, the ELZA+ENEDI and E-SHINE projects are presented, which seek to build bridges between high school students and technological skills related to energy efficiency. The method is based on conducting energy audits together with groups of students to boost their initiative and self-confidence. After short active lectures on energy efficiency, small energy projects are developed at the school and exhibited at science fairs. The results of those projects are, on the one hand, to diagnose and improve the energy performance of the school itself (through thermography tests, blowing door tests, etc.) and to propose energy efficiency actions (such us enhancing the envelope, including renewable technologies, etc.). On the other hand, these projects place the students at the centre of the activity so that they develop and increase their knowledge with the advice of professional technicians. In conclusion, these projects try to increase students’ scientific capital through experimental tests, science fairs, etc.