Cristina Balbás Martínez

  • Founder, Escuelab (SchoolLab)
  • Spain

Impact area: Education; Sustainable Development Goal 4

In Spain, as in other countries, school closures during the Covid pandemic disproportionately impacted low-income students. “The closing of schools aggravated existing educational inequalities,” says Cristina Balbás Martinez, who founded Escuelab in 2013 with a team of professionals in education, science, and the arts—all with a strong social commitment. Through its workshops, teacher training sessions, and extracurricular activities, Escuelab demonstrates that fun and experimentation are the best way to learn any subject, and especially science.

With support from the Global Youth Resiliency Fund, Escuelab completed the digitization of its methodology to facilitate online learning for primary school students. Funding helped meet urgent needs for at-home learning during the pandemic, particularly for minors from low-income households who received little or no educational support from their families during confinement, Cristina explains.

The program also allowed the organization to significantly scale its impact. During the 2020-2021 academic year, more than 1,800 students were reached, with 75 educators trained in delivering Escuelab’s interactive methodology. In 2022-2023, more than 10,000 students are expected to benefit, with nearly 500 educators engaged.

According to an impact analysis conducted in conjunction with the Education Research Group at Duestro University, students who participated in the project improved their self-confidence in science and attitudes toward researchers. They also increased their understanding of the relevance of science to their daily lives.

One participant, who attends an after-school program run by one of Escuelab’s NGO partners, shared that he now understands concepts that were previously unclear. Speaking to the relevance of Escuelab’s approach, he said if teachers at his school adopted the interactive methodologies employed by Escuelab, he would pay more attention in class.

Another benefit of the project was improved expectations among participating educators of students’ ability to succeed in the program—a key factor in ensuring student engagement in science and overall enjoyment.

Lastly, Escuelab strengthened its relationship with NGO partners through the project, with the impact study strengthening its overall credibility.

Learn more about Escuelab here.