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Science in the City: Building Participatory Urban Learning Community Hubs through Research and Activation

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - PULCHRA (Science in the City: Building Participatory Urban Learning Community Hubs through Research and Activation)

Reporting period: 2019-09-01 to 2020-11-30

In a world that’s becoming increasingly complex, there is a need to prepare especially young people for a future that will require good scientific knowledge, a solid understanding of the opportunities and challenges arising from modern technology and the willingness to actively participate in shaping the future. Current environmental issues such as air quality, restoration of our greenery and water bodies and climate change adaptation and mitigation culminate where most people live: in cities. At the same time, the gap between the need for participation and the actual activation appears to be especially large in cities. While schools provide a particularly effective starting point to teach students about cause and effect relationships, putting knowledge into actions requires the engagement of the communities at large including parents, families, neighborhoods, universities, local authorities, businesses, etc. Thus the process of learning must integrate the different societal data, must be holistic in terms of a continuous endeavor, which is not limited to set learning situations in schools or universities, and which should be augmented by opportunities to explore, test and even implement some of these concepts in real life situations.

The Science in the City: Building Participatory Urban Learning Community Hubs through Research and Activation - The PULCHRA project explores the open schooling concept in the theme “Cities as urban ecosystems” and in view of creating new partnerships in local communities to foster science education for all citizens. The open schooling concept provides an open and inclusive learning environment. It supports the development of innovative school projects and establishes points of access for all members of the society. Student projects meet real needs of the community by drawing upon local expertise and experience. Schools, in cooperation with other stakeholders form Science teams and become agent of community well-being, taken the theme to be explored encompasses the natural environment, the built environment and the socio-economic environment in cities.

The PULCHRA project targets the exploitation of the concept of open schooling in view of bringing new scientific knowledge for the city as an urban ecosystem, by facilitating participation of citizens of all ages in scientific discovery, by building a learning, exploring and activation network, by developing knowledgeable, innovative and participatory communities and by exploring common issues related to the city as an urban ecosystem through specially designed City Challenges.
During the 1st reporting period (1/9/2019 – 30/11/2020) all WPs have started, while some have been already completed.
Twenty deliverables have been submitted.Furthermore key actions, as connected to the milestones, for the progress of the project were completed:
MS1: The Kick-off meeting took place in Athens on 12-13 September 2019. Representatives from all Partners participated in the meeting. The EC Project Officer also attended the meeting.
MS2 and MS12: Data management plan and Communication plan were prepared.
MS3: School Network was established. It consists of 51 schools (Greece 6, Germany 6, Poland 5, Czech Republic 6, Romania 5, Italy 6, Latvia 7, Cyprus 5, Ireland 5).
MS4 and MS9: educational materials and courses were developed for the City Challenges.
MS5, MS6, and MS7: City Challenges platform, necessary for the City Challenges preparation and implementation, and PULCHRA app were developed.

The main results achieved so far are the following
1. The PULCHRA school network was established consisting of 51 schools
2. City Challenges themes were selected

(a) Powering Cities without Harming the Climate
(b) Buildings for the Future City
(c) Regenerating Urban Space to connect People in a Healthy Environment
(d) From waste disposal to resource efficiency – Circular economy at the city scale
(e) Mobility Patterns that support Community Development
(g) Innovation for Social and Environmental Benefit

3. City challenges supporting educational resources (open access) and distance learning courses for training purposes were developed
4. The City Challenges Platform was developed aiming among others to support the development of the school projects in the field of urban ecosystems and the interaction among stakeholders.
5. 1st year City challenges have started. School projects are under preparation.
6. PULCHRA is collaborating with other Open Schooling H2020 projects. The aim is to create a collaboration called Open Schooling Together. So far, accomplished activities include: logo created, Facebook and Twitter account created
The expected results and potential impacts until the end of the project. The project will result in multi-stakeholder’s partnerships with the capacity to recognize and get acquainted with breakthrough science for cities as urban ecosystems. Furthermore, PULCHRA will occupy a unique niche due to its capacity to link science and science education by considering cities as urban ecosystems. Young students will be able to bring new knowledge to their families and friends and get credit for this. Since, PULCHRA is in line with several EU strategies or policies, young students will get acquainted with the short term, medium term and long term EU plans for improving the quality of life in the urban environment, for protecting the climate and for linking science with policy decision making. Additionally, through cooperation on the local/city scale the project actively contributes to address the pressing issues of societal fragmentation, lack of participation and adaptation to global change. A momentum towards science and research will be developed, thus supporting the EU objective towards increasing the numbers of scientists and researchers in Europe.

For the two years of the implementation phase of the project, a modest estimate of the number of young students to actively – and directly - participate will be more than 1800 (at school level). A significantly higher amount of students will have the chance to apply the open schooling concept by means of the methodologies and provisions of the PULCHRA project. Also, over 300 stakeholders will use the City Challenges Platform developed by the project. The private sector is responsive to open schooling collaborations, as it is of their own interest to attract students to science and they also wish to enhance their corporate social responsibility

Taken the high replication potential of the project and its open structure (open source materials, shared City Challenges Platform and app), other schools, youth groups, civic organizations, etc. may also take advantage of the products for their own districts
Science Teams