Writing STEM research papers can be fun!

Students might enjoy writing STEM research papers if they know how do it.
This was the idea behind the activity developed within the STEM Discovery Week 2018 in the framework of the Maths&Languages (M&L) project.

Background

Some more information about the background of our activity. Since September 2017 we developed, in partnership with Lycée d’Altitude de Briançon, a mathematics research workshop for high-school students. This workshop replicates research activities carried out by professional researchers. The workshop capitalises on the students’ inventiveness and creativity, inviting them to discover mathematics (and STEM) and to carry out research work in this field.

From our school, 33 students participated in this workshop. Throughout this school year, working in small groups, the students looked for mathematical solutions and did computer modelling for a problem/ research topic launched by researchers in the field of STEM. At this moment the research activities proper are over, and the students had the chance to share the results they have found – in the MATh.en.JEANS Lyon Congress and in the International MATh.en.JEANS Padova Congress.

Until the end of the school-year, the students will have to write research report articles in which they will share the research topic, how they approached the solution to the problem and the results they found.

About our STEM Discovery Week 2018 activity

The first step in preparing the research report article is to learn about research papers. During this activity, drd. Lorand Parajdi from the Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Sciences from the Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca presented main elements of a STEM research paper, similarities and differences among physics or mathematics or medical research papers being pointed out. The researcher presented some examples of research papers and while doing this, a discussion on the content of the research paper was provoked by the students – e.g. CERN experiments.

An extensive part of the presentation was dedicated to the selection of the text editor; some information about LaTeX/ ShareLaTeX online editor was shared to students. As students worked with Romanian and French peers on their research topics, ShareLaTeX seems to be the perfect editor as it allows students to work collaboratively on a research paper which contains many mathematical expressions. There were many discussions about specific issues related to STEM research papers but also about the STEM research in Romania and Europe, about STEM research jobs, etc.

Reflections

In the planning stage, we thought that students will have some time, during the activity, to plan their work on writing their research articles. However, because of the discussions provoked by the participating students – which I enjoyed as they were so much related to STEM research – there was no time to start planning the writing of the research articles …. We’ll do it next week.

The students enjoyed the presentation and the discussions with the researchers – one of them took notes, some other asked for the presentation, many of them saved on their cell-phones links (e.g.: ShareLaTeX link).

We love professionals coming back to school 🙂 . We learnt a lot new stuff directly from the “source”.

The researcher was impressed by the students’ eagerness to learn about STEM research & STEM research papers. He enjoyed the freshness of the students’ ideas and their curiosity.

I couldn’t imagine students are so curios and know so many things about stuff they don’t really study in school.