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Using marine mammals for making science education and science careers attractive for young people

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - Marine Mammals (Using marine mammals for making science education and science careers attractive for young people)

Reporting period: 2017-12-01 to 2019-08-31

The decline of young people’s participation and interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) is of international concern. This decline in interest could be detrimental to not only career prospects for todays’s youth, but also for future research and development. Hence, there has been a growing concern about a STEM skill gap and a lack of appropriately qualified people to fill key jobs in science as well as to bring scientifically skilled people to other disciplines to promote future innovations. Furthermore, fewer students, not even the ones who perform well in science, are interested in taking up a scientific career. Thus, one major task for education is to get more young people interested and skilled in science, by engaging them in interesting and motivating science experiences.
The Marine Mammal Project is proposing swift and measured actions to remedy this by creating a European consortium of education and research institutions, alongside small to medium enterprises, in Europe to promote STEM subjects and students’ interest in science careers. The network intends to use ongoing and high-profile research in marine sciences to create engaging digital and print materials, bespoke interactive activities, case studies and resources to inform both qualified and trainee teacher’s lessons. Furthermore, the project will conduct teacher trainings as well as summer schools.

The Marine Mammal Project’s resources and materials will aim to show the challenges and benefits one can expect when engaging in science activities and by choosing a career in STEM. We intend to create case studies of individual scientists detailing their journeys from student to scientist. Through engaging with these unique case studies, students will find answers to questions such as “What factors need to be considered when choosing a career in science?” and “What kind of tasks do scientists undertake on a daily basis?”
Within the project we will cultivate a strong partnership between participating associates to utilise individual expertise to show how interdisciplinary research is currently addressing issues facing the marine environment and how teachers can use this to advance their teaching. To generate wider interest, the project will be divided into four major parts:
- Teacher training: developing new topics and updating teaching methods by providing both qualified and trained expertise
- Summer schools: addressing students directly by offering summer schools
- Symposium: a final symposium in each partner country open to a large public, esp. for teachers, scientists and students
- Outreach and community engagement: developing innovative exhibition modules, guiding, and developing web 2.0 and social media offers and activities for young people.
Development of educational material used for teacher and student trainings during 2017 and 2018.
They consist of ‘hardware’ in form of ‘expedition boxes’ containing all teaching materials that can also be lent out to interested schools. Also, there is ‘software’ in form of teaching manuals and background texts for each topic. There are also Powerpoint presentations developed about each topic which can be adjusted according to teachers’ needs.
Conducting teacher trainings in 5 European countries
Each of the project partners organised 1-day, 2-day or 1-week teacher trainings. By the end of November 2017 298 teachers participated in teacher trainings that were organised by the partners of Marine Mammals project. The workshops were held in Corsica (ULg), Germany (CAU and ITAW), Denmark (SDU), Poland (FRUG and WWF) and Sweden (Havets hus).
Development of porject website
At the moment we are developing an interactive poster and preparing for our two international teacher trainings in Denmark and Poland. Each partner is also preparing the summer schools.

For the international teacher trainings, teachers from other EU countries, such as Portugal, Greece, Romania, Netherlands, registered as well. By including teachers from other countries we are increasing our spatial impact.

We are planning to publish our teaching materials as a book together with a professional publisher.

At the end of the project, we hope, that we have provided teachers the tools and resources to update their pedagogical approach to teaching and to update their knowledge about modern science and, more important, that they are able to fascinate young people for science.