IrsiCaixa: four years helping to improve education in health sciences with the Tandem project

IrsiCaixa: four years helping to improve education in health sciences with the Tandem project

The AIDS Research Institute IrsiCaixa —together with the Barcelona Science Park and the Department d'Ensenyament —participated in a pioneering educational project promoted by the Catalunya - La Pedrera Foundation, called Tandem (watch presentation video in Catalan). This initiative has been implemented in the Apel·les Mestres Institute of Hospitalet de Llobregat. The strategy that has been followed in this Tandem is based on four pillars: project based learning, problem-based learning, focus on current biomedical research and students’ interaction with different stakeholders —politicians, industry, researchers, journalists, and teachers—. This strategy will continue being implemented even after the end of the project on June 2015.


As a result of this alliance, the institute's teaching staff has been trained in methodologies to innovate in the classroom and has incorporated problem-based learning and inquiry in their daily practice, as well as group dynamics to encourage collaborative learning and assessment training. The courses have been organized by IrsiCaixa and the Catalunya - La Pedrera Foundation. This project has also achieved to integrate and tackle science education issues in other subjects. In this regard, teachers from different departments at INS Apel·les Mestres have collaborated with IrsiCaixa to introduce scientific content in areas such as Plastic and Visual Arts, Catalan Literature, Physical Education, English or Ethics.


Another fruit of this synergy has been the development of a set of teaching guides on current biomedical research, dealing with topics as varied as obesity, the biotechnology revolution, the development of drugs or skin cancer. The activity sheets make use of multimedia resources of Xplore Health —such as virtual experiments, games, videos, playing cards and protocols experiments— and promote learning of contents related to the investigation. These guides also invite reflection on the ethical, legal and social aspects (ELSA) of biomedical research and promote interaction with different stakeholders. For example, some activity sheets suggest students to interview researchers and managers or to organize communication campaigns engaging with other stakeholders such as journalists and politicians. These materials have transcended the project and are already being used in schools across Spain through the network of pilot schools that Xplore Health has throughout the country. You can download these documents in the multimedia portal of Xplore Health ( or from the website of the Project Tandem Schools (


These project has also offered face-to-face and hands-on activities to students of INS Apel·les Mestres. The experimental workshops in the Science Park of Barcelona on current research, the IrsiCaixa participative seminar on HIV or the recording of a radio program on a local station of Hospitalet, are examples of these actions.

The official closing ceremony of the Tandem project took place on June 17 in the Apel·les Mestres High School. The event included short workshops on different inquiry-based projects —facilitated by students— and the institutional event.


Watch below the presentation video of the project, produced by Departament d'Ensenyament of Catalonia: