“Say Yes to STEM”? UMI-Sci-Ed does!

The USA, the UK and other countries are currently facing a skills gap surrounding STEM-based job roles; according to Engineering UK, each year the UK is producing only half the number of engineers with the right qualifications to fill nearly two million job openings expected by 2020 – let alone producing as many engineers as economic competitors in Asia.

Employers are looking to hire people with more advanced skills, especially in STEM fields, but job seekers are often struggling to figure out which skills they need and where they can learn them. In workplace learning, employers, are providing fewer opportunities for on-the-job training than they have in the past; yet, they are still looking to hire workers with skills and experience. What also seems important is the need to launch and -why not– establish collaboration between employers and educators so as to identify the skills they need to fill the jobs available and help map career pathways from entry-level to middle skill jobs and beyond.

As science, technology and engineering are powerful drivers of economic growth, it is critical to encourage more young people to opt for these subjects at school and university as it is equally critical to showcase STEM careers as an attractive option among the many choices offered to highly talented graduates. This is actually one of the goals of UMI-Sci-Ed: Exploring Ubiquitous, Mobile & Internet of Things in Science Education, funded by the European Commission in the context of Horizon 2020 calls (GA750183) (UMI-Sci-Ed Weblink, The UMI-Sci-Ed Platform .

Investigating the introduction of UMI technologies in education on STEM subjects and establishing Communities of Practice on the basis of supporting in a work based like environment European youngsters 14-16+ years old , has been seen as the major UMI-Sci-Ed partners’ challenge. By providing instructional design infrastructure for STEM based educational scenarios and space for on line collaboration among IT corporate specialists and European secondary teachers and students , UMI-Sci-Ed project carefully exploits state of the art technologies (UMI) to build STEM skills and train young students so as to become talented and skilful STEM future employees. Offering novel educational services, implementing innovative pedagogies and enhance students’ and teachers’ creativity, encouraging socialization and scientific citizenship are also important for the UMI-Sci-Ed rationale. Which skills are important for pursuing a STEM oriented career? In what ways company stakeholders could be involved in the effective tracing and development of these skills?

The UMI-Sci-Ed project is launched in public through the I-linc platform on a 21st March webinar @ 14.30 until 17.00 CET. More info about the registration to the webinar are available at :
http://www.i-linc.eu/web/portal/resources/articles-and-research/details?urlTitle=webinar-invitation-using-umi-ubiquitous-mobile-iot-technologies-to-support-stem-education&articleId=633142

 

Thank you for your support to the STEM Discovery Week!

Evita and I were very happy to participate in a Scientix webinar about the STEM Discovery Week campaign with hundreds of educators in STEM education on 28 February 2018.

We enjoyed answering the large number of questions we received from the participants.. The main questions were about what kind of activities they could organise for the STEM Discovery Week, how they could disseminate the campaign and how to participate in its associated competitions.

A few teachers also asked us for examples of activities of previous campaigns. Well, this is the third time the STEM Discovery Week is organised so, if you want to get some inspiration, you can of course have a look at the winners of our competitions in 2016 and 2017.

One teacher also asked us how she could organise the best week. There is no golden rule or a formula for success, it all depends if your activity meets your intentions and the learners’ expectations. If you need some ideas for getting started, though, you can have a look at a recent blog by Evita Tasiopoulou here.

We are over one month away from the STEM Discovery Week of 2018, and we have already exceeded the number of events we had last year. That’s very exciting news for the campaign! Our aim is to reach 500 activities by 23 April and we look forward to reaching this target with you!

Watch the recording of the Scientix webinar about the STEM Discovery Week to learn more about the campaign and how you can participate.

A growing STEM Discovery Week campaign every year

This is the third time the STEM Discovery Week is organised. This year, one of the main aims is at bringing projects, organisations and schools together to raise awareness about studies and careers in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). And it is fun to see how more and more partners are joining the campaign every week!

Thanks the initiative and support from the Scientix project, which is funded by the Horizon 2020 framework of the European Union for research and innovation, and SYSTEMIC, which is funded by the Erasmus+ programme, it is now possible to have a platform where various partners can share their activities in STEM education. Thus, the various projects, organisations and schools that are running initiatives in STEM education, can better learn from each another and pool their resources.

A campaign like the STEM Discovery Week is very important for increasing and strengthening collaboration in the field of STEM education. The hope is that this year, the STEM Discovery Week can facilitate 500 activities in STEM education, reaching 10,000 schools. For this to happen, a support from partners is essential. Already we can see how more and more such activities are being added to the map. So, in this one place, the STEM Discovery Week partners and anyone else who is following the campaign can find and/or add information about STEM activities all across the world!

Right now, the STEM Discovery Week is proud to present a diverse mix of partners that come from many different countries in Europe and beyond. All the partners agree to jointly disseminate the campaign through their networks, hence creating a multiplier effect that goes way beyond their area.

The lesson from this campaign so far is that projects, organisations and schools can achieve much more in partnership. Hopefully, the STEM Discovery Week can become a sustainable model for raising awareness about STEM topics as an integral part of our annual calendars. Download the call for projects and organisations to find out how you can become a partner here.

SDW2018 activities ideas for schools!

With February upon us, I am sure you are all busy planning your STEM activities for STEM Discovery Week 2018! To help you in this creative process, please find below some ideas for activities that can be organized in your school:

Chat

Through online chats teachers and their students are invited to meet experts and find out new insights directly from their field.

To participate in a chat, teachers usually need to register their class in advance as only a limited number of classes is admitted to join and slots are allocated on a first come, first served basis.

Teachers then need time to prepare with their class and get ready to meet experts, discuss with them and with other classes from all over Europe.

Information on upcoming chats organized by different projects, are made available at: http://www.scientix.eu/events

Debate

The topic of a STEM debate will depend upon the age of the students. To start with, teachers will need to identify an interesting topic to really get their students engaged. Here are a few topic ideas that can serve as inspiration but teachers, please do not forget that the final choice of the debate topic will depend on students’ age and maturity

  • animal experimentation
  • clinical trials
  • energy use and sources
  • recycling
  • space exploration
  • organ donation

After the controversial topic of interest is chosen, teachers will either have to present this topic and both sides to their students or have the students take the topic and research both sides of it to find out what side their position is on. Students should then be broken into groups. Once they are in groups, they can discuss their thoughts on the issue. If teachers decide to give students a topic, then they can send them off to research that topic. Next, students can work in groups to record information in support of their position.

The easiest way for students to prepare for a class debate is to get their thoughts onto paper. They can write an essay where they write supporting arguments and show their evidence. Another option is to write a position paper where they take a position and must support that position with factual evidence. A third option is to use a graphic organizer to find their particular position on a topic. With this option, students must develop arguments both for and against the topic. On the debate day, they must choose which side they most strongly are for, or against. A final option is to create an argument outline, which is a basic outline of their position on the topic with supporting evidence of how they feel about the topic.

Exhibition

Science exhibitions provide innumerable benefits to students, which encourage both their educational and social development. Perhaps one of the most valuable benefits is the chance for students to show, explain and talk about their projects to others. It is particularly rewarding for fellow students, parents and the wider community to have an opportunity to see and appreciate students’ many weeks of hard work.

Festival

A science festival is a festival that showcases science and technology using the freshness and liveliness that one would expect from art or music festival. A science festival can be the umbrella for various activities including lectures, exhibitions, workshops, live demonstrations of experiments and discussions. The core content is that of science and technology, but the style comes from the world of the arts. Science festivals can be organized as part of a whole school activity or extend to the local community.

Forum

Opening a forum on a specific STEM topic of interest and asking students to comment on the posts is a nice asynchronous activity. After choosing the tool to be used, a few more steps are needed in order to ensure its success.  Expectations and guidelines need to be set in advance. Learners must know their role in the online forums, as well as how they should behave when interacting with their peers. Small details like how often are they expected to post or whether they can start their own discussion or thread are particularly important.  On the other hand, if you want to stick to shorter responses and have more control over the online discussions, then a threaded message board could be the ideal solution. When choosing an online platform, think about the learning objectives of the eLearning course and the needs of your audience. If they are a bit reluctant to join the online discussion, consider a social media platform that they are already familiar with. For example, you can create Google, LinkedIn, or Facebook groups and invite your students to become members.

Professional visiting school

In order to prepare students for what the future employment market holds, they need to have information about their future careers paths. By cooperating with STEM professionals teachers are able to bring current, real-world job experiences to their class, demonstrate the various career possibilities in STEM, have an impact on learning, motivation, and involvement provide you and your school with contacts in local businesses. A good place to start is the “STEM Professionals Go Back To School“,   a STEM Alliance scheme that encourages volunteers from STEM industry (technicians, scientist, engineers, researchers or employment and recruiting managers) and teachers to organize career talks and collaborative activities in schools.

The programme is running all year long, and functions as a database of existing and new initiatives. A guide for schools on how to organize such visit is also available here.

Visit to company / industry

Through company visits, students and teachers would get a better idea of the nature and operation of different STEM-related industries, ranging from IT and telecommunications to Space industry and chemicals.

Although visits of this type can be very rewarding, there are some issues i.e. possible health and safety risks, highly sensitive and very expensive equipment, that need to be taken into account during the planning phase. These guidelines will help ensure that any site visit goes as smoothly as possible.

Webinar

Webinar refers to a presentation, lecture, or workshop that is transmitted over the web. During a webinar, participants have the opportunity to interact remotely and in real-time with the expert(s) leading the webinar, by asking, usually in written, their questions.

To sign up for a webinar organized by a 3rd party teachers usually, need to register through the registration link available on the webinar page. As soon as the registration is received, teachers will receive a confirmation email with the link to access the webinar. Information on planned webinars can be found through the Scientix events.

If a teacher wishes to organize his own webinar for his own class then the clear scope and objectives first need to be determined. Once the speaker/expert is also identified then a script for the actual webinar needs to be prepared. Various tools can be used in order to host a webinar, from Skype and Google hangouts to WebEx and Adobe Connect.

Feeling inspired? Do you have any more ideas? Feel free to share them in the comments below!