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!