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POLLEN: Seed cities for science, a community approach for a sustainable growth of science education in Europe

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Getting intimate with science

New tools to boost inquiry-based science enhance critical thinking in students and render the subject more applicable to the world around them while encouraging interaction and innovation.

Climate Change and Environment

Traditional school learning has often been a one-way concept and has lagged behind compared to educating students about science through more engaging, inquiry-based science education (IBSE). The EU-funded project 'Seed cities for science, a community approach for sustainable growth of science education in Europe' (Pollen) aimed to address and rectify this weakness. Specifically, it worked on providing training, evaluation and tools to strengthen inquiry-based science teaching and learning in primary schools. Pollen showed how science teaching can be tweaked on a local level and could integrate the community in the Seed City approach, i.e. involving the whole city in science education. The concept encourages students to deepen their knowledge of phenomena around them and at the same time improve critical thinking, curiosity and creativity. With this, the project aimed to demonstrate the approach's viability to national education authorities and involve stakeholders such as families, scientific communities, universities and industries. To define its main objectives and achieve its goals, Pollen assessed science education in each Seed City located across Europe. Countries targeted included Germany, Estonia, Spain, France, Hungary, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Evaluators then assessed students' and teachers' attitudes towards science, as well as community participation in the project. This involved ongoing evaluation by local staff and other stakeholders as well. Most importantly, the project provided schools with educational materials, lab materials and a web platform to access educational tools, emphasising in-service teacher training sessions and improving teaching skills. The kits and boxes provided to teachers helped reduce the practical difficulties that teachers traditionally fear. By strengthening IBSE, the project will render science learning more interesting and more practical, encouraging young Europeans to pursue science-related careers in the future.

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