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ReCoNnect: Research Communication for active learning

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ReCoNnect 2 (ReCoNnect: Research Communication for active learning)

Reporting period: 2022-05-01 to 2023-04-30

Researchers worldwide are struggling nowadays to solve some of the critical issues which pose a threat to our future life on Earth. While everyone has heard about the present challenges with climate change, digital cities, pollution of freshwaters and oceans, soils degradation which lead to poor quality of food, or cancer, not many are aware of the efforts and the difficulties that researchers are confronted with trying to identify practical solutions for all these threats. They are actively involved in developing devices and systems to monitor, control and diminish their effect, and to cure people and Earth, but their mission will not have the chance of becoming effective unless ReCoNnect-ing the researchers to the society, by developing a mutual respect and understanding. To find new paths of evolution one needs a will to listen, to be open to the new and to explore. As such, we promote the adoption of a special life strategy, that of continuous and active learning, in which all those engaged in thinking about the future, scientists, communicators or the general public, are active learners interacting with each other.

The ReCoNnect consortium is made up from 5 research institutes, some of the largest and most prestigious in the country, 4 universities, with high scientific expertise but also including journalism faculties and one public scientific body, that have been participating in previous research outreach events and coordinate some of the largest STEM educational networks
(teachers and pupils) derived from the European programmes. We propose the organization of 20 European Researchers’ Night events in places ranging from the largest city to small towns and even rural areas, and also a strong program of involving researchers at school in the next 2 years of the project. We are confident that by strengthening and connecting the existing science communication and educational programs (summer schools, conferences, workshops, fairs, contests, open days programs), the number of researchers involved in outreach activities will increase as well as the quality of the activities. The common resources and energies put together will allow us to look to the future with new hopes of an active and cultured society towards solving the humanity issues through science and awareness.
In the first phase of the project we succeeded in connecting science communication and educational events that covered a full year and also we organized European Researchers` Night events in 20 locations in the whole country. We also created a network of associated outreach and educational events, about 21 events, happening during the whole year. These were mostly events dedicated to the `Researchers in School` programme, like summer schools, conferences, workshops, fairs, contests, open days programs, webinars, and ranged in complexity from half a day to two weeks events. Next, from local and regional events we started organizing common events between the partners of the consortium located in different geographical areas, thus creating synergies and reaching a national audience. We mention here the first edition of `The National ReCoNnect Science Contest` and two editions of the national online programme “ReCoNnect - A different kind of school”. We have started a blog and a newsletter to better connect with the Community of schools, over one hundred, who take interest in our activities.
As the first network for STEM education and science outreach made by researchers and acting at the national level the results of the project were recognized by the Ministry of Research, Innovation and Digitization of Romania who awarded the patronage for the ERN events and the associated events organized by our consortium. Also national media took notice and reported about our activities.

Overall we strengthen the connections between different scientific and educational organizations who are part or not of the ReCoNnect consortium, and we created a large number of opportunities for researchers to meet the public and the schools.
The ReCoNnect consortium have succeeded in creating a network of events dedicated to STEM education and science communications supported by research institutes and universities. These events include some of the most prestigious non-formal educational events like research camps for pupils and teachers `MSciTeh Summer School for Science and Technology`, `The National Camp for Astronomy and Astrophysics`, `The National Olympiad for Science Creativity`. The existing, recurrent events started to collaborate, exchanging ideas and promoting together.
Next, we have developed new educational formats `The National ReCoNnect Science Contest`, with hands on and citizen science missions, and the national webinars programme `ReCoNnect - A different kind of school` each of these formats having the potential to become a reference in STEM education at the national level in the future.
Increasing awareness among the science communicators and outreach groups in the country is the strongest result that improves the quality of the events being organized.
Magurele ERN 2022 event