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Next Generation Science Challenges Using Digital and Social Media to Make Science Education and Careers Attractive for Young People

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - SciChallenge (Next Generation Science Challenges Using Digital and Social Media to Make Science Education and Careers Attractive for Young People)

Reporting period: 2016-06-01 to 2017-08-31

"Science education is crucial for shaping the future of modern societies. But although the demand for professionals in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) is constantly growing, the enrolment rates are decreasing. The SciChallenge project addressed this issue by launching a pan-European STEM-contest for young people between 10 to 20 years.

For that purpose, the multilingual SciChallenge Platform was programmed (https://www.scichallenge.eu/). It includes several contest modules such as the submission system, a knowledge-base as well as guidelines and resources. Furthermore, it also hosts awareness channel, which provide information on events, careers, internships or open days in STEM-institutions.

The contest participants developed their own STEM-project, uploaded their videos, presentations or posters on YouTube or Slideshare and registered for the contest on the SciChallenge platform. In total, 438 projects from 28 countries were submitted and about 53% of the participants were female. The projects generated more than 4 million ""views"" on YouTube and Slideshare as well as more than 21.000 ""likes"". By combining an online community rating and a jury rating, 12 winners were selected and awarded in Vienna in July 2017.

As the contest statistics show, SciChallenge was an innovative approach for empowering the European STEM-education landscape. Hence, social media based contests such as SciChallenge are a novel tool for promoting science education and research careers."
"In the first step of the project, knowledge about the status of research, good practices and projects on science education was gathered. Furthermore, existing participatory science contest were evaluated and lessons learned from other contests were screened. Additionally, educational resources were collected for supporting the SciChallenge participants.

The second step of the project focused on the preparation of the SciChallenge contest. Against the background of the ethical issues elaboration and insights from the projects’ qualitative survey, the contest concept was developed and tested in use cases for informing the platform programming. Furthermore, toolkits and guidelines for both participants and supervisors were developed.

In the third step, the SciChallenge web platform was developed as the main entry point for the contest. Additionally, it shows the progress of the contest on a dedicated statistics page and by listing the projects. Furthermore, it is also considered as a channel for future engagement and awareness. A final evaluation of the platform confirmed its intuitiveness und user-friendliness.

The fourth step aimed at running the SciChallenge contest. Promotion through the partner-networks, targeted social media ads and workshops with schools helped to get a sufficient number of participants. 438 projects from 28 different countries were submitted and generated more than 4 millon ""views"" on YouTube and Slideshare as well as more than 21.000 ""likes"". Through a combined online community rating and jury rating, 12 winning project were awarded at the public event in Vienna in July 2017. The event was attended by more than 500 visitors, who also selected the three audience awards winners.

In the fifth step, the content of the digital awareness and engagement channels was created. It includes a filterable and searchable collection of national research-based organisations and companies, open days and information events at universities, science events and internships. Also supporting institutions and sponsors were also invited and are listed on the platform.

The sixth step focused on the development of the communication plan and the design of dissemination or communication material such as the project website, flyers, posters, roll-ups, and factsheets. A regular newsletter was distributed and social media channels (Twitter and Facebook) were installed and maintained. Furthermore the project was presented at several conferences and workshops. Two articles in conference proceedings were published and one article that is published in 2018 in the peer reviewed journal IEEE Transactions on Learning Technologies.

The coordinator supported the partners by providing templates and structured reporting or monitoring tools and ensured the common understanding about the main direction of the project. Furthermore, the coordinator was also responsible for the final quality check of the 47 deliverables that were submitted.

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"The main progress of the SciChallenge beyond the state of the art is the concept of the SciChallenge contest. Our analysis of other STEM-contests, showed that STEM-contests are usually organized in a rather traditional manner. The SciChallenge contest however differs because of several reasons.

First, it proposed a set of different STEM-topics, which can be addressed by the participants. In contrast to “classical” STEM-contests, the topic sheets do not only present a particular topic, but they also highlight several relevant challenges related to the topic. Additionally, there was furthermore an open category allowing further STEM-topics. Due to this novel approach, SciChallenge was different from other contests in this field and certainly went beyond the state of the art.

Second, SciChallenge differed because of its strong focus on digital content production and its integration of social media. The contest participants were presenting their creative ideas by preparing a poster, presentation or video and by using Slideshare or YouTube. Hence, the contributions can still be publicly accessed (“viewed”) and “liked”. The views as well as the likes were also part of the rating in the first stage. In the second stage, the contest integrated science education and communication experts in the jury. Hence, the combined online and jury rating makes SciChallenge distinct from other STEM-contests.

Third, in contrast to other contests, SciChallenge developed a general framework for pan-European education contests. It is intended that the framework and the tools can be adapted and re-applied for future contests - as outlined in the exploitation plan.

Overall, the SciChallenge contest concept and tools that were used - including the platform - proved to have a high impact, as the projects generated more than 4 millon ""views"" on YouTube and Slideshare as well as more than 21.000 ""likes"" until the contest was closed. Until the end of the project, the numbers even increaed to 5 million views and more than 22.500 likes. Hence, as the submissions are still online and can be accessed, the project will have a long-term impact on STEM-education."
Flyer Backside SciChallenge
Flyer Frontside SciChallenge