Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

FP7

Scientix 2 Report Summary

Project ID: 337250
Funded under: FP7-SIS
Country: Belgium

Final Report Summary - SCIENTIX 2 (Scientix 2)

Executive Summary:
The following report details the activities carried out within the framework of the Scientix 2 project, between 2013 and 2016. Specifically, (1) a summary of the project context and its main objectives (2) a description of the main S & T results accomplished through the attainment of the settled objectives and (3) a description of the potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications) of the project as well as the main dissemination activities and the exploitation of results.

Overall, the main project achievements highlighted in the report are the following:

a) As a way to ensure the continuation and further adaptation of the Scientix 1 successful activities, building on their strengths and positive impact:
- Constant growth of the Scientix portal: In particular, an increase of 269% in registered users was achieved as well as a surpass in all the objectives set regarding the uploading of projects, resources, events and news items.
- Continuation and expansion of the service of translation on demand of materials to all European languages and as a totally free tool. At the end of Scientix 2, a total of 700 resources had been translated.
- Ambitious dissemination strategy through the almost 600 Scientix Ambassadors’ presentations around Europe and the organization of 29 national conferences by the Scientix National Contact Points. This was paired with a number of project dissemination activities through social media outlets (including a Facebook group with about 5,000 followers and a Twitter account with 4,700 followers at the end of Scientix 2 average gain of 86 followers a month) and through the production of multimedia content (comprising short videos and numerous attendances of project representatives to related events).
- Production of Scientix communication materials. Especially relevant, are the Scientix digest and the Scientix newsletter, which currently holds a total of 2,344 subscribers.
- Organization of one major conference organized in Brussels which offered the almost 600 participants with 70 talks, 14 workshops, seven roundtables and 25 exhibition stands, among other features.
- Expansion of the activities under the Scientix Observatory, by producing 9 more articles related to topics of STEM education and developed by different project stakeholders.

b) As means to support the development of national strategies for wider uptake and dissemination of inquiry-based science and math education (IBSME) and of other innovative science education methods and new pedagogies and math education:
- Continuous assessment of the situation of science education in each Member state and monitoring of national strategies in cooperation with national stakeholders through the Scientix NCPs and the Teachers panel, which enthused the production of the report "Efforts to Increase Students’ Interest in Pursuing Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Studies and Careers" Kearney, C. (2015).
- Support for the development of IBSE, the best use of Scientix resources and community building, through the organization of (1) events in the FCL, organized under the Science projects workshop in the Future Classroom Lab as well as Scientix Project’s Networking events in Brussels and (2) a number of online training activities, such as Moodle courses, Webinars and Communities of Practice.
- Develop synergies with other major European educational networks, such as the eTwinning project, for instance, by participating in eTwinning major events such as the annual eTwinning conference or the eTwinning Professional Development Workshops and by collaborating with other European projects such as inGenious, SAILS (http://www.sails-project.eu/portal) , Mascil (http://www.mascil-project.eu/) among others.

The activities mentioned above were essential to achieve the main project objectives, mainly:
- Revamping of the Scientix portal by adding two extra languages and improving the translation on demand service.
- Expanding the communication between different project actors and the dissemination and sustainability of the project, focusing on the networking, support and training roles of Scientix.
- Improving the offer of teacher professional development and improving training for science, math and technology teachers as well as an easy access to quality teaching materials.
- Strengthening of the Scientix community by contributing to the collaboration and development of science education projects.
- Raising awareness of innovation in science education among the numerous stakeholders involved in science teaching and learning.

Project Context and Objectives:
Year after year hundreds of projects are funded in the field of Science Education in Europe. In most cases, the project results remain confined to the actors involved. In order to increase awareness and knowledge of the overall outcome of these EU “investments”, so as to further raise and optimize their value and potential for others, Scientix: The Community for Science Education in Europe, was created.

Correspondingly, Scientix 1 involved the creation of the projects’ web portal, not only as an information portal but also as a knowledge-building platform. Available from the start in 6 different languages, during its first 2.5 years of existence, the Scientix portal already became a success: over 49,000 unique visitors were registered, 200 projects and 1,600 resources were included in the portal, over 50 training courses were organized, 240 news articles and 700 tweets were published and 26 newsletters were sent out.

In addition, the Scientix 1 conference (Brussels, May 2010) helped to promote the project’s internet-based information platform as well as the networking among project stakeholders. The event proved a high point in the project with almost 380 participants from 37 different countries – including teachers, policy-makers, project managers, and science education researchers.

Furthermore, a wide range of measures were taken in order to ensure visibility and awareness of Scientix among the targeted groups, including over 50 presentations throughout Europe, flyers and posters, as well as publications on both the Scientix portal (Gerard & Snellman, 2011) and the conference (Gras-Velázquez, 2012).

Taking into account the success of Scientix 1, it was considered appropriate to extend the operative Community for Science Education in Europe and to work further on its advancement and proven utility. The key objectives for Scientix 2 were set as follows:
• Ensure the continuation and further adaptation of the Scientix 1 successful activities, building on their strengths and positive impact;
• Support the development of national strategies for wider uptake and dissemination of inquiry-based science and maths education (IBSME), as well as of other innovative science education methods and pedagogies.

The analysis underlying this approach derives from the fact that (a) more can be done and needs to be done to ensure ample and substantial impact at national level; (b) the quality of project networking and collaboration needs to become more even across all different phases of EC-funded projects. In order to achieve the aforementioned, the following milestones were set:
• Revamp of the Scientix portal: two extra languages; improve the Translation on demand service (a unique feature of Scientix where teachers can request the translation of teaching materials into any of the 24 EU languages for free); launch of the Scientix Online Meeting Room Service (for projects to carry out online meetings and webinars).
• Expand communication (between different actors), dissemination (of existing activities, latest news, projects, etc.) and sustainability, focusing on the networking, support and training roles of Scientix.
• Organize the 2nd Scientix conference, in line with the Scientix objective of reinforcing its position as the community for science education in Europe. This major conference would further promote networking among the science education community. It would principally target EU science education stakeholders (e.g. teachers, researchers, policy makers at national and EU level, etc.), but it would also include international contributions where relevant. With over 300 teachers and 200 science education practitioners attending, the dissemination and training value will exceed any other event taking place in that time period, as science education events usually do not include all these very different target audiences in one location at the same time.
• Offer teacher professional development via online courses, webinars and Scientix workshops in both non-Scientix events and Science Projects at the Future Classroom Lab (FCL) events (where policy makers can rethink their ICT strategies and teachers can experiment with innovative pedagogical approaches within flexible learning environments).
• Further develop the Scientix community by contributing to the collaboration and development of science education projects. This shall be achieved – among others –through: Scientix projects’ networking events; a large Scientix teachers’ panel with 90 teachers both in over 30 countries, in Europe and beyond; by offering insight into the situation of Science Education in projects with the Scientix observatory, which will provide short synthesising articles, focused on one or several related themes or initiatives related to science education.
• Setting up of the Scientix National Contact Points (NCPs) which, apart from carrying out educational activities and other events at a national level, will help understand and monitor the national situation of each of the countries collaborating with Scientix.

Project Results:
In this section, the main achievements that have allowed Scientix 2 to reach the objectives (in terms of enrichment and development of practices within the STEM education community) will be presented along with the numerous activities that made it possible.

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Ensure the continuation and further adaptation of the Scientix 1 successful activities, building on their strengths and positive impact
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The first project goal was to expand and improve the objectives reached during the first phase of Scientix, learning from successful previous experiences and putting into practice the knowledge on the field acquired a priori. For that matter, the following activities were put into place:

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Technical maintenance and hosting of the Scientix internet platform and adding of new features such as content search, adaptation, translation, (including the availability of at least two additional EU languages) and upload of all sections
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Through the overall maintenance and expansion of the Scientix portal services, it was deemed essential to ensure the continuation and further adaptation of the successful activities implemented in Scientix 1 in order to build on their strengths and positive impact. Being the portal one of the flagships of the project, its role in reaching educators, policy-makers and experts in the field of STEM education and in promoting information and materials related to the field has been essential.

In fact, from the start of Scientix 1, one of the main objectives of the portal was to support the scientific teaching community in Europe in locating high-quality resources in STEM education. In particular, the resources repository allowed users to find and download various science education materials such as teaching materials, lesson plans, reports, studies, guidelines and training courses. Perhaps the most unique feature regarding the repository was the fact the resources were available for free, thanks to the European projects that had developed them. While the Scientix 1 portal managed to collect information and teaching materials from hundreds of projects and to keep them available beyond the duration of the projects that created them and the lifetime of their websites, in Scientix 2 the main aim was to continue and expand this task.

Referring to the growth of the portal per se, at the end of the first year of the Scientix 2 project (that is, by 1 December 2013) there were 1,925 users registered. By 1 December 2014, there were 4,119 users registered on the Scientix website. And by 1 December 2015, there were 5,913 users registered. When compared to the end of the Scientix 1 project on 1 December 2012, where only 1,601 users were registered, this represents an increase of 269%. This means, Scientix nearly quadrupled the number of registered users during Scientix 2 compared to its predecessor Scientix 1. In absolute terms, this means that 4,302 people registered as users on the Scientix portal from 1 December 2012 to 1 December 2015.

In regard to the ratio of visitors coming from different sources, a 20.10% was derived from referral sites, a total of 27.60% was direct traffic while 29.40% came from organic searches (e.g. Google). Social media brought a 19.10% of the traffic and the remaining 3.80% was derived from email (Scientix digest, electronic newsletter sent by e-mail).

The portal also served as a meeting point for all these projects, helping to disseminate resources to different stakeholders and providing teachers with a direct access point to all teaching materials created by EC-funded projects. Furthermore, among other features, it offered a constant supply of news and information on STEM related events around Europe for an improved communication among stakeholders of the community. Hence, in Scientix 2 it was essential to maintain the service of collecting the information whilst improving the community-building tools.

Accordingly, by the 31 December 2015, Scientix 2 had reached all the main indicators for the number of projects, resources, events and news uploaded to the Scientix portal as they were foreseen in the Scientix 2 project agreement. Correspondingly, by the end of December 2015, a total of 400 projects had been added to the repository as well as 2,349 resources (exceeding the original goal of 2,335), 719 events (11 more than originally planned),570 news items, even though the original goal was only of 538 . Besides, 700 resources were translated through the translation on demand service

Scientix continued its activities from 1 January to 31 March 2016, by publishing information with new projects, resources, events and news on its online portal to ensure that there was always something new being added every week – following an editorial schedule, which was aligned with publishing dates of the Scientix Digest, which is sent out every second Tuesday of the week. At the end of March 2016, 87 more projects had been uploaded, 359 new resources, 54 events and 73 news items. This made a total of 487 projects, 359 resources, 54 events and 73 news items at the very end of Scientix 2. Overall, the enhancement of the services provided in the repository as well as the achievement of the objectives set has ensured the constant flow of online information ready for its use and, through the project dissemination channels that will be later explained, the filling of any potential lack of information in the field.

Furthermore, to ensure quality control of the portal, a report on the functionalities of links was included in the Scientix resource repository. From 1 July 2015 to 31 March 2016, Scientix carried out work with the aim at reducing the number of broken links to files. A total number of 5426 links were checked at the end of Scientix 2 out of which 450 were invalid or resulted in an error, or 8% of the total. This is a much lower rate than was found in the last check done by Scientix when it was 12%, but nevertheless the goal was to decrease this rate as much as possible to eliminate cases in which clicks from users result in an error. Efforts were made in Scientix 2 to recuperate those resources with a result of 143 recuperated resources, some of them with different languages versions included.

The inclusion of activities to ensure the quality of the services provided by Scientix is a proof of the efforts specifically addressed to guarantee the pedagogical excellence of the resources under the projects’ umbrella and to control any intellectual property right issues. This has ensured a close monitoring of the overall quality of the project and its services and has assured its significance as a valuable asset and its usability within the STEM education community.

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Translation of teaching materials for the widest dissemination of best practices
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The Scientix portal navigation and the introductory information on projects and teaching materials have been available in English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Polish, Dutch and Romanian since the beginning of Scientix 1, as well as the service of translation for STEM education materials. Indeed, this has always been the key difference between Scientix and other projects with similar repositories: the possibility for teachers to request the translation of the materials into any of the 23 official languages of the Commission.

This translation -carried out by official translators and completely financed by the European Commission- and labelled as the translation on demand service, was maintained and extended during Scientix 2. In particular, it was expanded to accept translation requests into any official language from European countries, territories and regions, as well as FP7 associate countries (e.g. Hebrew, Turkish, Basque, etc.). The mentioned translation service has proven to be very successful as the total number of resources translated at the end of the project was of 700. Specifically, for the period from 1 January to 31 March 2016, Scientix received 273 translation requests (from which a total of 186 were accepted –considering that some translation requests have to be refused due to restricted copyright usages or because the 3 translation petitions needed to active the process should come from 3 different users-) proving how, even at the end of the project, participants were still very much using (and demanding) the services offered by Scientix.

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Ambitious dissemination strategy (newsletters, presentations at events, workshops)
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The revised dissemination efforts during Scientix 2 were carried out through different outlets and responded to a particular communication strategy. As seen in the first section of this report, Scientix 2 has not only been focused on the collection of various resources developed by EC projects but also on national projects. Furthermore, another objective of the project was to findnew ways to support the development and implementation of national strategies for the uptake and dissemination of IBSE, the best use of Scientix resources and community-building, in cooperation with Ministries in charge of education and/or the most appropriate entities likely to bring changes in science education in each country. Therefore, it was absolutely indispensable to define a dissemination strategy encompassing both of these objectives. In addition, the strategy defined had to integrate this national component and to associate fully the various National Contact Points which were created for supporting the development and implementation of national strategies.

A number of core objectives for the dissemination strategy were set: Among them, to sponsor the benefits of inquiry-based science education and in more innovative and engaging science teaching pedagogies, to promote the benefits of sharing science teaching materials and to highlight how Scientix can improve the quality of teaching resources through collaboration as well as to stress the importance of a dedicated European network and community of practice to complement teachers’ training opportunities. All of these objectives were addressed to specific target groups, namely: teachers and trainers, policy-makers (national and regional authorities involved in education) and associations, researchers, training institutions, academies and project managers and parents and students.

Accordingly, with this dissemination planning, the Scientix Ambassadors’ network (Scientix teachers panel) actively participated in visibility campaigns such as the promotion online of Scientix activities, the distribution of publications and the participation in a number of Scientix multimedia material. Nonetheless, the most important effort made by the Scientix ambassadors, was the project presentations they relentlessly carried out and which were mainly addressed to educators in their respective countries as over 200 presentations would always be assured during each of the teachers’ panel working cycles. Similarly, the Network of National Contact Points was in charge of the wider dissemination planning in the national context. For that matter, each Scientix National Contact Point organized a national conference within the Scientix 2 framework as well as a number of workshops who helped the project increase its public profile. The conferences organized by the NCPs usually took over two days and attracted anything from 100 to 800 teachers (being the most popular, the Danish Big Bank conference co-organized with Scientix, that attracted 900 attendees, followed by the Slovenian and Belgian Scientix National Conferences) and other professionals in STEM education. A total of 29 national conferences were organised as part of the Scientix project. Scientix National Conferences proved themselves to be a great opportunity to spread contemporary ideas on STEM education throughout a nation and for educators to network at a national level. Correspondingly, the localization of communications materials such as posters, fliers and business cards was carried out in order to be able to share these materials in the countries where Scientix is present through the participation of National Contact Points.

Moreover, online dissemination, especially through social media outlets, has been essential for the project’s success. The Scientix Facebook group, currently including about 9,600 followers, has proved a vibrant tool for Scientix to reach out to the wider online community, especially to reach people involved in other science or education related projects. Equally, the Scientix Twitter account has kept growing over time. From January 2013 until October 2015 it increased in a 307% and it gained, on average, 86 followers a month.

Furthermore, a number of Social Media Campaigns were carried out with the priorities of (1) the project became more visible in the eyes of key STEM education policymakers and educators through targeted dissemination at the European and national level, (2) getting users of the Scientix portal engaged in discussions about the project and wishes for future development, including National Contact Points and Scientix Ambassadors and (3) to help increase traffic to the Scientix online portal and the growth of the STEM educators’ community through face-to-face events and online activities. “Scientix Works” was the most successful campaign of the Scientix 2 project in terms of outreach, additional traffic to the Scientix online portal and impact on key stakeholders in STEM education in Europe. Together the #ScientixWorks and #EMINENT2015 campaign generated more than 6,000,000 impressions on Twitter, and web traffic to the Scientix online portal had never been as much as in the week 16-20 November 2015 throughout the whole project period.

Scientix has also produced multimedia content. In particular, a number of short video interviews was recorded during the Scientix conference in October 2014, during the sixth Science Projects Workshop in May 2015 in Brussels and during the Eminent 2015 conference in Barcelona. These featured two of the keynote speakers from the Scientix Conference (namely Ewald Breunesse, a Manager of Energy Transitions at Shell Netherlands and Amber Gell, a Spacecraft System Engineer at Lockheed Martin and NASA) as well as teachers, Heads of Schools, representatives of teachers’ association and other educational authorities. They all spoke about the importance of collaboration in STEM education and how a community such as Scientix can contribute to that goal. Finally, contribution of Scientix to specific campaigns, events or fairs such as the ERT-SAP STEM Design Thinking Workshop, the T3 Europe Conference) (Madrid, 27-29 2015), or the Sharing Inspirations 2015 conference organized during the European Commission 2015 Open doors day has helped in the project dissemination efforts.

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The production of communication materials
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The projects dissemination efforts have also been complemented through the production of several publications and communication materials. The Scientix Digest, published every two weeks and sent to subscribers by e-mail, as well as the Scientix Newsletter, sent every two months have been some of the most popular Scientix items. While the Scientix Newsletter is only published in English and covers particular topics in STEM education in-depth, providing readers with unique content that is written for that very occasion, the Scientix Digest is a collection of recent news, resources and events published on the Scientix online portal. The Digest is published every Tuesday in all the 8 languages of the project. Each of the newsletters has been printed in 2,000 copies and distributed at Scientix’s events and other relevant meetings in the sphere of science education, or through National Contact Points. At the end of Scientix 2, the number of subscribers to the newsletter had reached the total number of 2,344.

Furthermore, 3 printed publications about the Scientix community were produced as part of the Scientix 2 project and uploaded to the Scientix portal (as an online version). Those publications gave a good overview of the possible benefits for teachers, researchers and other stakeholders in STEM education (Publication available here: http://www.eun.org/publications/detail?publicationID=803) from participating in the network. The last publication in particular, titled “Scientix 2 results: How Scientix adds value to STEM education ”, was published in November 2015 and contains information about the community’s growth, achievements and findings during the project’s lifespan

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Organization of one major European Conference to be held in Brussels
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One of the major successes of Scientix 1 was the organization of a European conference which gathered 380 teachers, researchers, project managers and policy makers from all over Europe during three days in Brussels, to attend discussions in working sessions and presentations in plenary sessions. Thus, during Scientix 2, a second Scientix European conference was organized from 24-26 October 2014 in Brussels, in line with the Scientix objective of progressively becoming the community for science education in Europe and with the focus mostly put on in-service teachers, in order to build the project’s sustainability and to widen the impact of Scientix and all the STEM education projects.

Building on the success of its predecessor, and by offering the almost 600 participants with 70 talks, 14 workshops, seven roundtables and 25 exhibition stands (a significant increase on the first conference) it helped promote the Scientix portal and to encourage the networking among different STEM education community stakeholders while helping in providing with feedback on the services offered online and targeting EU science education stakeholders. But the most important growth was in the entire Scientix community that had occurred in the three and a half years since the first event. This helped ensure that not only was the second conference larger – with roughly 600 teachers, project managers, policy-makers and science education researchers attending, with 800 more on a waiting list – but it was one of the major networking events in STEM education in Europe. All in all, this second conference served to align policies (with NCPs at national level) and practices (with the community of science teachers in Europe active in Scientix via the portal and its activities proposed).

Indeed, this conference was the place where all STEM stakeholders -teachers, science museums, science educators, curriculum developers, inspectors, decision makers at local, regional, national level- could meet, discuss, exchange and progress on all the issues facing STEM education in Europe. Accordingly, it provided with a unique opportunity for projects that usually work in silos to showcase a complete picture to teachers of the different tools, resources, methodologies and activities being developed, discussed or included in training by them. Moreover, the dissemination and training value of the conference exceeded any other event taking place in that time period, as science education events usually do not include the three very different target audiences in one location at the same time.

Given the success of the Scientix 2 conference, it was decided that the last year of Scientix 2 could not go without organizing another major event. Thus, it was decided that -in 2015- the annual EMINENT conference (an annual event organized by European Schoolnet with its 30 Ministries of Education) would be organized in close partnership with Scientix (as well as the Department of Education of Catalonia). The collaboration with Scientix impacted the number of participants to the event (increasing the participation from ~150 to a total of 257 participants from 37 countries), the content (with the inclusion of stands, workshops and presentations on STEM education issues) and opened the door to invited project representatives beyond those in which European Schoolnet was involved (not done until then). In addition, this event gathered all Ministries of Education collaborating with European Schoolnet in a same place, which represented a major milestone for the development of the sustainability strategy of Scientix and for its better adoption at a national level.

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Support the development of national strategies for wider uptake and dissemination of inquiry-based science and math education (IBSME), as well as of other innovative science education methods and new pedagogies.
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The second main objective of Scientix was that of framing the second phase of the project to the national contexts of each of the countries participating in order to achieve a better assessment of the situation in terms of STEM education in each Member State and to support a more localized development of strategies to promote IBSE, best practices and the use of good STEM didactic resources.

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Assessment of the situation of science education in each Member state and monitoring of national strategies in cooperation with national stakeholders
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• For that matter, during Scientix 2, the National Contact Points (NCPs) was organized as a network to contribute to the assessment of the situation of science education in each member state. Indeed, European Schoolnet, as a network of Ministries of Education, was ideally placed to identify the best organizations to act as NCPs for each country while taking advantage of the Ministries’ role for additional support and dissemination. Thus, the selected NCPs were those institutions identified as the most appropriate operator at national level who could be in charge of the development of national strategies in the STEM area.

First (as one of the objectives of Scientix 2 has been to develop mechanisms that are specifically tailored to support the development of national strategies such as the development of attractive and effective STEM curricula and teaching methods or an improved teacher education and professional development, a series of national indicators had to be collected using feedback from the NCPs. Furthermore, when examining initiatives proceeding in each country, and in order to define a specific framework of analysis, it was important to take into account the following elements: overall STEM strategies nationally, dedicated centers to improve the quality of STEM teaching curricular reform and inquiry-based learning, strengthening teacher training and professional development in STEM, guiding students towards STEM careers, increasing the participation of women in STEM careers and the use of ICT in STEM teaching and learning.

In addition, EUN carried on an analysis of what measures were in place for in-service training and professional development of teachers at national level, i.e. how professional development in STEM is being strengthened in member countries. For this, local specialized centers and municipalities, In-service teacher training programs and the updating teachers’ ICT skills were analyzed and a report produced. With the title of the "Efforts to Increase Students’ Interest in Pursuing Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Studies and Careers" Kearney, C. (2015), the report included the results of the comparative analysis led by the Scientix research panel and consisted in an update of the "Efforts to Increase Students’ Interest in Pursuing Mathematics, Science and Technology Studies and Careers" report Kearney, C. (2011). It was also based on the national contributions received from the Scientix National Contact Points representing 30 countries, in response to a survey on national measures and initiatives to increase students’ interest in pursuing STEM studies and careers, launched in the summer of 2015 by European Schoolnet. This main source of data was complemented with information presented by a number of Ministries of Education during its European Schoolnet’s annual conference, Eminent, on 18-19 November 2015, co-organised by the Scientix project. Moreover, this 2015 edition of the report included a special focus on teacher education policies and initiatives.

Secondly, as Scientix 2 was created with the main objective to become the community for science teachers in Europe, it was important for national contact points to be able to act as an information intermediary between the Scientix platform and all the science operators in their respective countries (schools and teachers, but also policy-makers, researchers, teacher trainers, industries, academies, associations, local authorities, science educators, parents and students). For that matter, and in terms of concrete activities, the national contact points were to take on responsibilities such as: 1. Providing basic information on Scientix to the scientific community in their respective country 2. Animating specific events (online events and seminars, face-to-face meetings...) in cooperation with the Scientix 2 operator (EUN) 3. Identifying national projects and resources and uploading data on them to Scientix 4. Organizing one Scientix national conference in each country (~ 100 participants) 5. Organizing national workshops / training on IBSME 6. Contributing to the organization of the European conference by inviting the most appropriate teachers and stakeholders in their country 7. Providing regular information on what is happening in their respective country so that they can contribute to the animation of the Scientix portal (including quality assurance of the linguistic version of the portal) 8. Organizing other special national events in line with national priorities.

• During the first 3 years of the Scientix 1 project, an initial teacher panel had already been providing support through numerous activities such as: establishing scientific and pedagogical criteria for content collection; analyzing, commenting and rating Scientix teaching materials and resources; giving feedback on the usability of the portal and its services; providing input into the preparation of the European conference; monitoring the dissemination of the project at regional and national level; participating in national and international conferences and events to present the project and participating actively in the communities of practice accessible on the portal.

In Scientix 2, the Scientix Teachers Panel and its Scientix Ambassadors continued the work undertaken during Scientix 1 through a well-defined set of tasks. While in Scientix 1 the panel had one teacher per EU member country, this new phase of Scientix guaranteed a fair and equitable selection of teachers and expanded to include three teachers per EU member state. While the Ambassadors will be experienced teachers, the Deputy Ambassadors could be selected through an open call for STEM teachers. This system guaranteed that at the end of Scientix 2 more teachers would be experienced in collaborating at international level while the dissemination at national level would be more effective through regional and local dissemination by the teachers’ members of the panel.

By selecting deputy ambassadors from different regions, Scientix will be disseminated more widely. This is particularly critical in countries with highly decentralized education systems where regions have high levels of autonomy. Moreover, and being aware of the need to include new faces to the project to ensure a more effective national dissemination, between 5 and 10% of the panel was renewed each cycle. The changes were implemented in order to better accommodate the national demands of some of the member countries, to expand the panel to further countries, and to the replace those Ambassadors who failed to deliver on project tasks appointed in their contracts or to report properly.

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Support for the development of IBSE, the best use of Scientix resources and community building, in cooperation with Ministries in charge of education and/or the most appropriate entities likely to generate change in science education in each country.
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• Science Project Workshops in the Future Classroom Lab
As a way to support the development of IBSE and to promote a community building holistic approach, a series of initiatives were developed. On the one hand, the science weekend events in the FCL (Created by European Schoolnet in cooperation with industry, the Future Classroom Lab (FCL) is an inspirational learning environment in Brussels, challenging visitors to rethink the role of pedagogy, technology and design in their classrooms), organized under the “Science projects workshop in the Future Classroom Lab” umbrella, constituted yet another landmark in the project efforts to deliver with teacher training and to enhance the use of IBSE, as well as to both aim and train teachers in the use of technologies in the classroom in association with materials and pedagogies from STEM projects while encouraging science education projects to work together.

This term was penned during Scientix 1, following the very successful 1st Science projects workshop in the FCL organized by Scientix in September 2012. Since then, 8 more of these events have been organized with an average of 40 participants each time and between 100 and 300 in the waiting list for each event (indeed, in total, 1471 teachers applied to attend the Science Projects Workshops in the Future Classroom Lab during Scientix 2, out of which it was only possible to invite 252). These were organized as regular events aiming both to train teachers in the use of new technologies, materials and pedagogies and to encourage science projects to work together.

The content of these events would always include features such as: ways of motivating practitioners in using best practices; materials appearing in the Scientix portal; an extension in the involvement in exchange and networking to other practitioners; increased visibility and effective use of the Scientix portal and its services; feedback on the Scientix portal; training for teachers on new tools for STEM teaching; programs encouraging cross-project collaboration and exchange of content. Furthermore, all topics were linked to the specific content offered in the Scientix portal and would take into account the latest developments in the field and the other results produced by the EU-funded projects.

• Scientix Project Networking Events
On the other hand, the Scientix project’s networking events consisted of meetings organized with the objective of allowing publicly funded projects to share the work carried out, network, and agree on common plans. By September 2015, 147 STEM professionals had benefited from the SPNEs, and, on average, 21 participants from 14 projects came to each one. SPNEs have been held in London, Brussels and Barcelona. Its content consisted of short presentations on the different projects and status updates and workshop discussions on: Problems and solutions encountered with project portals regarding their content, and more technical issues; dissemination strategies and agreement on common dates for events to reduce costs to all projects and maximize dissemination and online trainings and webinars and Moodle courses. They also covered a wide range of subjects, including Involving Other Third Parties, Organizations and Advisers in European Projects, Responsible Research and Innovation and STE(A)M, and Communication and Dissemination Activities.

• Online training:
In order to allow a larger audience to benefit from diverse training opportunities, online training and webinars are necessary too. For that matter, in Scientix 2, the offer of Moodle courses was expanded and the series of Scientix webinars and Communities of Practice created. A total of 22 Moodle courses were published during the first half of Scientix 2 by members of the Scientix teachers panel when it was decided to proceed with the translation of all the 22 courses already created and with the publishing of a third set of Moodle courses. Thus, a total of 506 extra Moodle courses was produced. The promotion efforts of these courses were met with exceptionally positive response from the Scientix online community. Between the 20th November and the 10th of December 2015, web traffic on the Scientix online portal increased by almost 240%, going from 645 sessions on average to 2178 sessions after the promotion of the translated courses.

Moreover, an increase in the number of page views on the Scientix platform coming through the Scientix Moodle was observed, as between the 20 November and 10 December, 17% of the number of page views from the Scientix portal came through the Moodle platform, with a considerable increase in the percentage noticeable since December 4th.
http://moodle.scientix.eu/course/category.php?id=12 was the second most viewed item of the domain during that period. The remarkable results of the Twitter promotion were a good indication of the interest and need for teaching resources in various EU languages and also show the contribution of the Moodle platform in maintaining and expanding the community of teachers and facilitating the exchange of methods, tools and good practices between its members.

Another activity within the projects’ offer of online training were the webinars. Started over the period of January/November 2015, 19 of them were organized, with a total of 1327 registrations (not unique) and 649 attendees (not unique). The online webinars provided yet with another opportunity for professionals around Europe to participate in training activities without having to travel across countries. The webinars would last about 1 hour (45’ of talk by the presented, followed by 15’ for Questions and Answers) and were organized using the Scientix Online Meeting Room (described below). This online tool allowed for the speaker to be seen by participants at the same time as the presentation. Participants are able to ask questions via the written chat facilities. An average of 35 teachers usually attended the webinars live.

In addition, through the Scientix Online Meeting Room, Scientix aimed to facilitate the work of the different science education projects. For this, offered them with the possibility to use the "Scientix online meeting room". Any project included in the Scientix repository was able to request to schedule an online meeting, webinar, online workshop, etc.

It is important to note that a very conservative way of seeing the actual impact on students is by multiplying the number of teachers by 20 students per class. In that sense (and taking as an example the average attendees to a Scientix webinars) if ~600 teachers were participating in one particular training, we are talking about at least 12,000 students affected by one sole Scientix activity.

• Scientic Communities of Pratice
Last, the Scientix Communities of Practice were designed to allow any stakeholder (teachers, projects, researchers) to discuss any science education project at any time (during the time the CoP would last) and without moderation or prior planning. While this approach has its advantages, for example its readiness for any new topic to be included at any time, it lacks the focus of planned events. From other projects like inGenious (inGenious was the European Coordinating Body in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education. It is a joint initiative launched by European Schoolnet and the European Roundtable of Industrialists (ERT) aiming to reinforce young European's interest in science education and careers and thus address anticipated future skills gaps within the European Union, http://www.ingenious-science.eu:23080/web/guest), EUN had already seen the success of limited time, very defined Communities of Practice, with over 50 comments from teachers being written each week a CoP lasted, compared to the 100 comments per year of Scientix 1.

Thus, during Scientix 2, 9 more online CoPs were set up with a similar concept. These communities brought teachers and science education professionals closer, going in-depth into topics raised in the course of the Scientix project. The communities were made up of teachers, educators, policy-makers, researchers and project representatives. Each discussion was led by a facilitator, expert in the field, who was responsible for guiding and maintaining the level and content of the contributions and all Scientix 2 registered members were able to participate in the communities.

Nonetheless, it must be noted that the most of the participation in the Scientix Communities of Practice came from teachers. Therefore, the number of contributions varied depending on the time of the year the communities were to be carried out. As means of example, those Communities taking place at the start or at the end of a school trimester would have lower degrees of participation (That is the case for CoP number 2, taking place in September 2014 and CoP number 5, scheduled in March 2015).

Potential Impact:
In terms of societal implications, the main expected impact of the Scientix 2 project has always been that of furthering the expansion of the Science Education Community in Europe as well as the promotion of a continuous improvement in the quality of science education, in particular via:

1) Improved training for science, math and technology teachers and an easy access to quality teaching materials. By improving the knowledge of teachers of “how to teach” and “what exists in terms of Science Education”, their motivation and effective teaching is expected to improve, ensuring the increased interest of pupils in science and technology disciplines.

2) Raising awareness of innovation and curriculum development in science education amongst the numerous stakeholders involved in science teaching and learning, ranging from policy-makers at the top level of decision making to schools, teachers, families or even researchers. By encouraging the exchange of information and expanding the reach of the materials, knowledge and experiences resulting from projects and events, it was expected that teachers and projects would stop working in silos as well as to encourage progress and innovation in STEM education.

3) An enhancement in the exchange of information on STEM education, not just in terms of current initiatives but also in relation to the promotion of STEM role models, a greater awareness in STEM career opportunities as well as improved information on academic possibilities and career guidance. In turn, this has the potential to directly incentivize students to choose STEM degrees and careers thus stimulating the supply of STEM professionals.

4) A better integration of Scientix in the national context of a number of European countries as well as by supporting European Ministries of Education in any major reform in the STEM education field, specifically concerning adaptations in the STEM curricula.

Overall, by offering members of the STEM community (being these educators, project managers, policy makers, etc.) with better tools to develop and improve the field of STEM education, Scientix contributes globally to the current challenge of a prevalent disinterest of young students to embark on STEM studies and STEM careers.

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Steps to bring about these impacts
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In order to bring about these societal impacts within the three-year timescale of the project, a series of actions were designed, implemented and organized in the strands described below.

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Strand 1: Expanding the project services to improve the delivery of STEM educational resources
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The first strand focused on expanding the content of the Scientix portal, as well as developing other project activities that would permit that particular STEM educational resources (usually accessible only by a specific actor within the STEM education community) would be available to an increased number. In this section, we are describing and exemplifying which (and how) a number of Scientix tools have encouraged the sharing of numerous resources among different actors:

For a start, it has mainly been through the maintaining and adapting of the Scientix portal, including its numerous services and the repository of STEM teaching resources and reports, that the sharing of information and resources has been achieved. Indeed, and as already mentioned in the previous section, Scientix has relentlessly collected teaching materials and reports from public funded science education projects offering free access to numerous high-quality resources for science education. Furthermore, through its online portal, Scientix has -and keeps on- offering abundant news items with the objective of keeping different stakeholders informed and up-to-date on the latest developments on science education in Europe. The portal has also offered access to an event’s calendar, bringing together science education events from across Europe and beyond as well as a service of free online training sessions. It also incorporates a facility to request on-demand translations of teaching materials into any of the European languages that has proven an invaluable tool with which to multiply the reach of the mentioned resources.

Along these lines, the Scientix web portal has been offering access to extensive information from many different sources, in a systematic way and without having to travel across the network and it has been able to integrate different areas that display up-to-date content while incorporating other features such as an intranet to help users’ navigation in 8 different European languages. Furthermore, one of the main benefits of developing the Scientix web portal has been ensuring the sustainability and continuity of the project, working as its central access and being able to integrate an extensive amount of information while furthering the Scientix network. All in all, the Scientix portal features have significantly increased the accessibility, quantity and availability of information in STEM education by bringing together information and resources that were previously only obtainable at national level or difficult to locate and make it publicly available.

Along the same lines, and as a way to bring research evidence available to a wider audience, the Scientix observatory was set up during Scientix 2 with the aim of providing with short informative articles, mainly focused on the documentation of good practices in STEM education and on the display of the state of the art in different related topics. Moreover, and given Scientix’s primary aim of creating a comprehensive community for science education, it was considered important to request different stakeholders (teachers, researchers, project officers, etc.) to share their input on the specific areas of STEM education they would be working in and to present it in an informative way that could appeal a broad audience. In order to achieve this goal, the published articles were gathered from different sources and with different methodologies, namely:

(1) Papers connected to conferences, written in connection with specific topics that would fit relevant conferences on STEM education following on the latest developments in STEM education. This series of articles drafted over thematic conferences as a way to ensure that Scientix would contribute to the latest advances in the area by disseminating research findings and the project’s operative educational tools. (2) Papers resulting from discussions from Scientix Projects Networking Events (SPNEs) in order to incorporate views from project management representatives of the STEM community. As the SPNEs were organized bringing together project coordinators, managers and other representatives from European and national science education projects to present their initiatives and to facilitate creating new collaborations and partnerships. In them, participants were encouraged to share their expertise and knowledge in different areas of STEM education through a qualitative focus group who would reflect on their professional experiences and that would later help in the process of formulation of key ideas to incorporate in Scientix Observatory publications. (3) Papers written by Scientix Ambassadors, allowing teachers from around Europe to express their points of view on the role of STEM educators as well as any issues currently facing within their profession as it is often believed that teachers and other professional educators are frequently an underutilized source in STEM education research (while educators themselves keep claiming that most of the current investigation does not cover the every-day professional needs and worries in their teaching career). (4) Papers resulting from key issues on STEM education that would be of special interest to Ministries of Education (MoEs), making the general audience aware of the most relevant topics for decision makers.

In that sense, by producing articles from different sources/methodologies, Scientix has continuously encouraged a greater understanding and a holistic approach to science education while bridging any gaps between stakeholders in the area and while sharing the most up-to-date information on the field and, overall, contributing to the Scientix community-building objectives. This was also enhanced thorough the set-up of the Scientix blog, which allowed for the production of short blog entries about different aspects and experiences from different stakeholders within the STEM education community. Furthermore, the blog allowed friends of Scientix to express their own opinions regarding different STEM related topics in a more personal manner, as the articles produced were the sole responsibility of the corresponding authors without representing the opinions of the project.

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Strand 2: Promoting teacher training both at national, European and, by extension, International levels
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Scientix 2 has always placed teacher training (both at national and international level) as a cornerstone of its work-plan for attaining the project’s objectives and expected societal impacts. Good practices, by their nature, promote good science education and therefore promote innovative approaches in science teaching, including the implementation of new educational pedagogies like Inquiry-Based Science Education (IBSE). Thus, in order to promote teacher training, Scientix has organized a number of international hands-on training activities such as the workshops in the Future Classroom Lab or the Scientix webinars and other online training events.

• Scientix Workshops in the Future Classroom Lab
The purpose of the Scientix Workshops in the Future Classroom Lab has been to provide teachers with innovative ideas as well as to support and allow them to form collegial connections with other teachers, supporting the enlargement of their professional network and encouraging community-building. Apart from the direct influence training has on the teachers themselves, as well as impact on science education and classroom practice, it has firmly opened doors to further discussions on STEM and IBSE techniques beyond the Scientix project. Furthermore, the results of the workshops and of the activities carried out during these events have been later featured in the Scientix 2 online resources repository.

All in all, participation in training workshops and/or networking activities to foster collaboration among colleagues in an atmosphere of trust and support has proven to be beneficial for both schools and students. As already mentioned, the creation of links between teachers, educational centers and students; training opportunities and professional development for teachers; training of new pedagogical approaches and stimulating experimentation are potential results from engaging in such practices that have the ability to make a difference in education today.

• Scientix webinars
Online training in the form of webinars was included in Scientix with the main aim to provide STEM education content to all Scientix users and especially to teachers who would not have the means or the time to attend to the hands-on workshops held in Brussels. In order to understand which were the needs of the STEM educational community and to collect topic proposals, the initiative was disseminated among the Scientix community (and in particular, among the Scientix Ambassadors) as well as among other experts involved in STEM projects. This would help determine which topics would be of most interest to different members of the STEM community. Along these lines, and to maximize its reach, the webinars were presented by Scientix Ambassadors or by external experts, held in English and recorded and uploaded to the Scientix portal resources repository. In addition, transcripts of the webinar in English were created in collaboration with the teachers involved in Scientix, as a way to support potential future translation’s requests.

After the webinar, participants received a follow-up email, with links to materials, information on upcoming talks and the request to provide their feedback on the activity through an online survey. The feedback survey was sent to the participants of 16 webinars and, for the overall evaluation of this 16 webinars, it was found out that 98% of respondent expressed a positive evaluation for the webinars: 57.31% rated the value as Very good and 41.15% as Good

• Scientix Moodle courses
Moodle courses are yet another important educational instrument available on the Scientix platform. These were specifically targeted at STEM teachers with the aim of disseminating different tools and teaching approaches that could support them in the classroom and as a way to explore the impact of several of these tools and techniques in academic environments. In that sense, the Moodle courses created under Scientix 2 were developed by Scientix Ambassadors -STEM teachers from a variety of national and professional backgrounds who shared from their experiences, knowledge and expertise through this medium. Thus, the Scientix Moodle platform, a form of online training developed by teachers, for teachers, became an important building block in creating a community of international teachers in STEM and thus not only contributing to the project’s offer in teacher training but also to another one of the key objectives of Scientix, the promotion of a community-building holistic approach.

Furthermore, it was decided to translate all courses from English (the default language of the Scientix Moodle) into the remaining 23 official EU languages. This step ensured that innovative ideas and teaching resources were readily available for use, language barriers aside; moreover, the informal feedback gathered from teachers during Scientix events showed the importance of having translated resources, particularly in areas that are fast-developing, such as ICT and IBL. This expansion, coupled with a strategic promotion of the Scientix Moodle, brought new visitors not only to the Moodle platform, but also to the main Scientix portal, thus contributing to the construction the exchange of information, ideas and good practices among like-minded peers.

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Strand 3: Promoting a community building approach
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As we have seen, practically every activity within Scientix supports the building and strengthening of a European community for science education: From the Scientix European Conference, to the organization of different international training events, the portal and its interactive tools or the Scientix Communities of Practice. Indeed, the collaboration initiatives developed in Scientix respond to the belief that professional cooperation is essential to ensure and maximize the reuse of best practices while guaranteeing they reach the largest possible number of stakeholders. Through active collaboration, concepts and ideas can be internationalized or localized and they can foster innovative approaches too. In the area of STEM education particularly, it is important that different stakeholders work cooperatively to further the exchange of information that eventually helps furthering innovation within the field.

In that sense, and to strengthen this holistic approach, Scientix created a series of international stakeholder networks, the (already described) network of National Contact Points and the Scientix teachers’ panel, apart from starting a new endeavor by collaborating with Ministries of Education across Europe (a collaboration that is planned to be expanded in further stages of Scientix 3) and of organizing networking events and online communities for even a further communitarian feeling as the foundations for a pan-European approach.

Nonetheless, this pan-European reach could not be realistically and effectively executed without coordination at national level. Selected through individual discussions with the ministries of education of the countries participating in the project, the National Contact Points were designated as the most appropriate actor to take responsibility for the development of national strategies in STEM education, specifically focused on the evaluation and monitoring of the national situation in science education and in the implementation of national strategies for the collection and dissemination of project resources. This extended network of NCPs has contributed to a change of mentality and approaches in terms of how STEM education is perceived, since they have linked up with national teacher communities in a more efficiently way than it could have been done through a more centralized approach.

Scientix has develop other activities to promote a community approach. Moreover, and given that one of the goals of Scientix 2 was to identify successful approaches transferable and scalable to other European countries, to pilot and validate them as well as to foster a European dimension, Scientix developed services for a better translation and localization of resources and through and other services that would work as a platform of exchanges for STEM teachers across Europe. One of these was the development of the Scientix Communities of Practice, encouraging the exchange of ideas and resources on specific topics of STEM education. These communities have let participants engage and discuss with each other on the questions they are more interested in, to end up formulating a series of final ideas or conclusions. Besides, at the end of each Community of Practice, a series of conclusions and policy recommendations would be drafted and, due to popular demand, the possibility to get a translated version of these in all European languages was introduced. The set of Communities of Practice has certainly let participants engage and discuss with like-minded peer about topics of their interest, to end up formulating a series of final ideas or conclusions. As the main advantage of this format lies in its dynamism and flexibility, the format has facilitated an easy flow of information between many different stakeholders while allowing fluctuations on the discussion topics and promoting an open dialogue.

While virtual communities are key in fostering an international dialogue without moving, face-to-face events are equally important. In that sense, and given that one of the main successes of Scientix 1 was the organization of a European conference, during the second phase of the project it was decided to set up a second Scientix conference as well as a collaboration between the yearly EMINENT event and Scientix. The organization of these events also responded to the Scientix plan to progressively become the Community for Science Education in Europe, the place where all STEM actors. This second conference helped creating networks between the scientific and educational community (including teachers, researchers, project managers’ academics, representatives of educational organizations and national authorities and European) as well as to provide with information about the project and the services offered. The event offered a unique opportunity for all stakeholders to enjoy a space to meet, discuss and exchange views on the challenges facing education in science and technology in Europe by providing a global view of trends present in these subjects at international level.

As other face-to-face events, Scientix organized the series of networking events (Scientix Project Networking Events) in order to bring together project coordinators, managers and other representatives, from European and national science education projects. As previously explained, the goal of these events was to allow representatives of projects and educative institutions to present their work as well as to share professional experiences to eventually facilitate the creation of new collaborations and partnerships and agree on common plans that could strongly contribute to maintaining and increasing collaboration between Scientix 2 and other EU-funded projects, forming the basis of the portal content, and thereby ensuring the sustainability of the project and its services.

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Strand 4: Stimulating STEM academic options and STEM careers
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The reported prevalent students’ declining interest in STEM studies (particularly among girls), is extremely troublesome for a number of reasons, including the lack of a younger generation of scientists, technicians and researchers, aggravated by current demographic trends that unveil an aging European population and by the advance of a knowledge society in need of a more widespread scientific culture. Moreover, the importance of improving STEM competences is well proven given the need for younger generations to acquire the 8 basic competences, which includes STEM subjects (The 8 key competences being: Communication in mother tongue; communication in foreign languages; math, sciences and technology competences; digital competence; learning to learn; social and civic competences; sense of initiative and entrepreneurship; cultural awareness and expression.), as a way to fully participate in the future European knowledge and, particularly in current r future activities that increasingly depend on STEM skills (Education and Training 2010 Work Programme, Detailed work programme on the follow-up of the objectives of Education and training systems in Europe, Eur-Lex, Official Journal C 142, 14/06/2002 P. 0001 – 0022 http://europa.eu/legislation_summaries/education_training_youth/general_framework/c11086_en.htm). This is added to the enhanced role of STEM in the current development of a Research and Development capacity in Europe, that is able to ensure competitiveness and economic growth in Europe.

These conditions make of the creation of a new generation of STEM professionals a must. For that matter, it is essential to ensure that students attitudes towards STEM degrees and careers are positive, as it is generally proved that they play a strong influence in academic choices. Furthermore, research suggests that today’s younger generations, while they aspire to study and to work in a field that is meaningful to them and that embodies their values, they are unsure they will be able to find it in the STEM field (a particularly widespread opinion among girls in relation to areas such as math, ICT and physics, see http://www.eun.org/whitepaper). In addition, reports by the OECD (Encouraging Student Interest in Science and Technology Studies, OECD Publishing, November 2008), the European Commission (see Report by High Level Group on Increasing Human Resources for Science and Technology in Europe, Luxembourg, 2004. http://ec.europa.eu/research/conferences/2004/sciprof/pdf/final_en.pdf and EUR22845 Science Education NOW: a renewed pedagogy for the future of Europe, Luxembourg, 2007
http://ec.europa.eu/research/science-society/document_library/pdf_06/report-rocard-on-science-education_en.pdf) and the Nuffield Foundation (Science Education in Europe: Critical Reflections, Nuffield Foundation, Osborne and Dillon, King’s College London, January 2008. http://www.nuffieldfoundation.org/sites/default/files/Sci_Ed_in_Europe_Report_Final.pdf) have shown that STEM subjects still remain quite unattractive in schools.

Nevertheless, there are several initiatives that are able to help make STEM studies and careers more attractive, namely (1) qualified, expert and motivated educators (2) innovative pedagogies and curriculums that include new resources and approaches in STEM but that also incorporate the existent curricular structures and policies present now in different countries and (3) better role models in STEM careers paired with improved awareness in STEM career opportunities and better guidance for students. Correspondingly, Scientix is (and has been) actively addressing these needs. In particular, through face-to-face events like the Scientix Workshops in the FCL and the organization of major conferences along numerous online training opportunities, Scientix is helping ensure the improvement of the current European STEM educators’ workforce as well as to enhance their professional motivation which in turn will help encourage the younger generations to take part in the STEM field while introducing new approaches to the teaching profession. Furthermore, through the Scientix portal, it is ensuring that the flow of information (not only in terms of innovative materials and practices) is shared but also in relation to the exchange of news items and information about events that also reflect the stat-of-the play in STEM education.

Moreover, the ultimate impact of Scientix 2 has also been that of reaching greater social awareness on the importance of STEM, potentially resulting in an enhanced interest in STEM education and careers in younger European generations. This need has been addressed (apart from through the numerous trainings and activities developed under the project worktime) through the introduction and reach-out of the project in the national context of a number of European countries. Accordingly, this was materialized in different streams: On the one hand, and with the aim of achieving an impact beyond the project at policymaker level, Scientix started the collaboration with the Ministries of Education, by co-organizing the 2015 edition of the EMINENT conference with Scientix and by starting the Ministries of Education and STEM representatives Working group, that is expected to further develop through Scientix 3. On the other hand, and to materialize the impact in a more contextualized way, through the National Contact Points (and the Teachers Panel), Scientix has been able to disseminate and reach a bigger pool of professionals that have the potential to engage secondary and tertiary level students to STEM studies, and to encourage STEM ¡qualified students to move on to STEM careers thus ensuring Europe’s future prosperity of an adequate stock of researchers, innovators, researchers and entrepreneurs.

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Strand 5: Dissemination strategy at European and national level
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As previously explained, the Scientix dissemination strategy has incorporated many different elements: From the publication of printed and online materials such as the newsletters and the Scientix Digest, to the presentations of the Scientix Ambassadors and National Contact Points. In fact, all the Scientix activities have had the aim of promoting synergies and complementing other initiatives in order to create encourage a holistic approach and to promote the exchange of information between different actors within the same field.

Therefore, being Scientix a unique platform in science education, it was planned its complementation with several other initiatives in the field, in order to create synergies with other initiatives such as: European Schoolnet’s own channels (website, publications, social media, events, newsletter); European Schoolnet’s Future Classroom Lab (FCL) which promotes innovation in education (training events, information via the FCL website); other FP7-funded education projects (for promotion on websites, on publications and newsletters, at events and other purposes); and finally, through the EMINENT conference which gathers over 150 European stakeholders in education. All of these synergies have been exemplified in previous sections.

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Scientix Evaluation
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As a way to ensure the best evolution of Scientix, an evaluation plan was designed for the whole development of the project. This plan was composed by 4 different evaluation strands, which were the following:

- The portal internal evaluation was done through widely used techniques related to (1) its accessibility, adapting to conform to the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI), Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 to level AA -WCAG 2.0 (AA)- and reviewing it in the 4 principles of perceivable, operable, understandable and robust (2) web statistics, through the use of Google Analytics and (3) its usability, controlling the website’s visibility of system status, the matches between the system and the real world, the level of user control and freedom, the websites’ consistency and standards, the system of error prevention and the websites’ recognition rather than recall.

- The educational activities internal evaluation, included an evaluation of the design, content and organizational aspects of the Science Project Workshops in the Future Classroom Lab, the European hands-on training, the Moodle courses, the Scientix webinars and the Communities of Practice. This feedback consisted in two parts: On one side a specific section dependent on the programme of each individual event / course / webinar community of practice, and a generic-section which was the same for all instances of a same activity.

- The Scientix 2 conference external evaluation was developed with a particular focus on the following elements: (1) The kind of participants so as to see whether they respond to the target groups of the Scientix project (2) The objectives of the conference so as see whether they are in line with the objectives of the Scientix project as a whole (3) The different parts of the programme such as keynote speakers, parallel workshops, mini workshops and poster sessions to see in which way those elements of the conference have contributed to reaching the objectives (4) The organisation of the conference as such (5) The way in which participants intend to disseminate what they have learned during the conference (6) The overall post-event feedback from participants and (7) The conference pack made available to all participants.

- The management of the project was done through an external evaluation and focused on the quality of the educational activities and results, on the management of the different organizations involved (e.g. Scientix National Contact Points as well as Teachers panel) and on the organization of the project in general.

The general objective of this evaluation was to determine whether the objectives of the Scientix 2 project were reached and to which extent. The evaluation also tried to define the success factors and the limits of this way of working so as to make recommendations for the improvement of Scientix 2 and for a future Scientix 3. Overall, the responses to Scientix, gathered through event evaluations and interviews with Teacher Ambassadors and NCPs were extremely positive. The project is clearly valued and has provided those involved with many worthwhile experiences, in addition to the resources made available through the project. As a number of interviewees argued, Scientix has an important role to play in European STEM education and it cannot be simply a one-off initiative; it needs to be continually updated, added to and improved beyond the current tranche of funding.

Overwhelmingly, the most highly valued aspect of Scientix events, among both NCPs and Teacher Ambassadors has been the opportunity for networking. It appears that both groups would like even more occasions for both structured and informal networking at future events. There is also evidence of an enthusiasm for more active, participative and practical sessions which could include collaborative activities. Smaller groups are also preferred to make networking easier.

While engaging more enthusiastic teachers in Scientix does not present a significant challenge, persuading more traditional teachers to investigate the portal (and eventually use the resources to change their practices) can be much more difficult. Some ideas which may facilitate this include:
• Drawing attention to the translation service – this appears to be highly appreciated by teachers, especially those with access to relatively few resources in their national language;
• Identifying resources which map onto aspects of the curriculum in each country to make it easier for teachers to find potentially useful resources;
• Improving the search facility to ensure resources suggested are a good match for teachers’ criteria;
• Promoting Scientix through smaller workshops which allow more one-to-one contact;
• Sharing practical examples from teachers via social and other media. While social media is important, more traditional communication channels may have a greater potential

Both NCPs and Teacher and Ambassadors are very complimentary about the support offered by EUN; they appeared to feel valued as contributors to the project and are pleased with clarity and detail provided about their role and the efficiency and helpfulness of responses when they have queries. The only area where interviewees said they would like more support is in reporting. The exemplars provided by EUN are appreciated, but there may also be opportunities for Teacher Ambassadors to share their practical tips with each other, especially given this group often have little previous experience of this type of documentation.

Nevertheless, the effectiveness of links between NCPs and Teacher Ambassadors was one of the major challenges faced during Scientix 2; in a number of countries, these were not developed effectively. In a future project it would be useful to consider how to encourage NCPs and Teacher Ambassadors to work together more closely, for example, involving NCPs in the selection of Ambassadors; setting shared Tasks; holding joint events; or making joint NCP-Ambassador meetings mandatory in each country. Greater clarity about the roles of NCPs and Ambassadors, individually and in relation to each other, would also be helpful.

On another terms, identifying an impact on students, or on educational results, is more challenging. It is likely that this will only become apparent over a longer period of time and starting to collect data to evaluate this needs to be considered as part of a future Scientix project. Simple ways to support a greater focus on impact (rather than output measures) might include sending follow up questionnaires to participants several months after an event to find out how they have used knowledge or skills gained; or case studies conducted by Teacher Ambassadors to demonstrate the impact of Scientix on individual teachers/schools they have worked with.

Finally, the notion of a portal where teachers can find a wealth of high quality resources has strong support. However, improving the search facility of the Scientix portal, for example through more filtering options and tags, would make it easier for users to find relevant resources. If possible, greater use could be made of visuals to make the portal more attractive as well as helping to overcome the language barrier it presents for some teachers. The language barrier was a recurring theme in the evaluation data. The translation service is highly regarded, but the reliance on English is still seen as a significant challenge that can be off-putting to many teachers who might otherwise be interested in exploring Scientix.

List of Websites:
http://scientix.eu

Related information

Contact

Marc Durando, (Executive Director)
Tel.: +32 2 790 7575
E-mail
Record Number: 187955 / Last updated on: 2016-08-18