Science communication has become part of public policies around the world. Researchers, teachers and students in different countries such as the UK and European Union, volunteer every year as part of their work activities. It is also part of governmental strategies to link academic institutions with society, providing and procuring funding for these public engagement activities [1].  However, members and volunteers from region 9 (Latin America) have expressed that it is unusual for graduate and postgraduate students from Latin American institutions to participate in these types of initiatives. This issue has been widely discussed during networking events and conferences organized by the IEEE Photonics Society (IPS). Two members of the IPS, Angeles Camacho and Natalia Canas Estrada, decided to join forces and lead an initiative seeking for a solution to this problem. In collaboration with the IPS, Angeles and Natalia have been leading “Iluminando el futuro”, a STEM outreach initiative that involves experienced science communicators and STEM ambassadors interested in learning from their most experienced peers. “Iluminando el futuro” consists of systematic training for science communicators divided into two stages: a workshop, and an online training that seeks to provide STEM ambassadors with tools to share their knowledge with their local communities through outreach activities. IEEE Photonics Society supports this initiative and STEM ambassadors by providing grants that can be used to purchase materials required for the outreach activities.

The pilot programme of “Iluminando el futuro” was launched in the second semester of 2021, with people volunteering to become STEM ambassadors from countries like Colombia, Mexico, Venezuela and Chile. So far, over 50 STEM ambassadors have started their learning path. Of these 50 STEM ambassadors, 31% have already carried out outreach activities with their local communities. STEM ambassadors from Venezuela, Mexico and Colombia have been the first cohort to deliver outreach activities developed using the methodology of this initiative. One of these fantastic outreach projects was led by Gilberto Sanchez, in Venezuela. His activity on meteorology (meteorología) was carried out in school “María Ledezma y Hermano Juan”, and over 36 students attended the event accompanied by their parents and teachers. When asked about his experience with “Iluminando el futuro”, Gilberto said, “I am grateful for having been selected to be part of “Iluminando el futuro”, the training fine-tuned my evaluation tools to bring the best information to the participants… I hope it is the beginning of a long journey of support to bring knowledge to the most vulnerable communities.”

(left) Gilbert Sanchez explaining how the barometer works. (right) Children from school María Ledezma y Hermano Juan making a barometer

Nora Aneth Pava Ripoll and Alejandra Giraldo Jiménez, both instructors for the “Iluminando el Futuro”, created an instructional video following the guidelines given by Angeles, Natalia and the team of experts in science communication. Just as for the STEM ambassadors, Nora and Alejandra have had an enriching experience participating in this initiativeAlthough working in a multidisciplinary team is not always an easy task, both Nora and Alejandra have expressed how interesting and rewarding it has been for them to participate in “Iluminando el futuro”. Nora and Alejandra said that “the training content was based on different resources we found in science communication and multiple contributions from experteers and other volunteers from IEEE Photonics society. The training aims to communicate and provide tools for new STEM ambassadors to replicate the best practices and share their knowledge with their local communities”.

(left) Instructors of the program Alejandra Giraldo Jimenez and Nora Aneth Pava Ripoll (left to right). (right) Screenshot from virtual training carried out in October 2021.

As the pilot program of “Iluminando el futuro” comes to an end, preliminary results have provided valuable information to improve and train new STEM outreach ambassadors.  Angeles and Natalia are already thinking about the following steps to guarantee the continuity of the program. A new call for the upcoming version of “Iluminando el futuro” will be open to all volunteers who want to become STEM ambassadors in Latin America. One of the advantages of “Iluminando el futuro” is that the content is in Spanish, so volunteers in Latin America can access and complete the training without worrying about a language barrier. Moreover, the work with Experteers and IEEE Photonics society will continue. Experteers will have the opportunity to improve their engagement skills through training provided by Jamie Gallaher, an award-winning engagement professional specializing in engagement, impact, and evaluation. After receiving the training, experteers will share their take-aways with other science communicators of their local communities. Angeles and Natalia believe that closing the gap between science and society will benefit younger generations. “If we want to see changes in society, we need to be part of the change”, as they expressed it. If you like this initiative and want to be part of this amazing project as a STEM ambassador, or you want to support “Iluminando el futuro” by becoming an Experteer, please get in touch with the team by sending an email to