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Promotion of STEM education by key scientific challenges and their impact on our life and career perspectives

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - STEM4youth (Promotion of STEM education by key scientific challenges and their impact on our life and career perspectives)

Reporting period: 2017-05-01 to 2018-10-31

It is commonly observed that science education and scientific carriers are not attractive to young people in most EU countries, and this creates a serious problem for the whole EU economy. STEM4youth sees the reasons of this situation mostly in the way science disciplines are traditionally taught at school:
- core STEM subjects are presented mostly through a theoretical approach and often as separate areas not related to others;
- STEM education usually has no broader societal context and relation with application of STEM skills in real life and in future work careers.
To address these shortcomings, STEM4youth produces a comprehensive, multidisciplinary series of courses for young students aged 12-19 presenting key STEM challenges from six main STEM disciplines: Mathematics, Physics, Astronomy, Chemistry, Engineering, Medicine, and one trans-disciplinary module: Citizen Science at Schools (scientific projects defined and executed by students).
These challenges are presented in the project largely through their practical applications and their impact on our everyday life and work. STEM4youth shows which skills are developed in each discipline and how they fit the labor market needs. Therefore, the project helps young people to take conscious decisions on their interests, field of education and finally - their career paths.
The project also develops an open platform for educational content sharing and to build a community of international teachers and students.
Finally, STEM4YOUTH gathers feedback from schools and produces a set of recommendations for policy makers on how to improve STEM education across the school systems in partner countries and in general in the EU.
•Set up of an Open Learning Content Management System (OLCMS).
The platform is a repository of engaging educational materials from 6 main STEM disciplines. The platform is primarily dedicated for secondary and high-school students wishing to extend the general STEM knowledge and for high-school teachers looking for ideas for extra-curricular lessons.
The platform is publicly accessible ( )

•Definition of Learning tools and methodologies for subcourses.
The tools and methodologies having the best potential to make STEM contents more attractive were tailored to the different disciplines and topics considered in the project. Experts in these fields, namely teachers in the countries of the partners were interviewed according to a common interview matrix. Their recommendations included aspects such as how to strengthen methodologies through gamification, educational games, hands-on activities or learning via experiments. All their inputs lead to the definition of the tools and methodologies used in the courses which also includes aspects of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) and gender.
•Co-creation of 3 different Citizen Science experiments involving 90 students.
These activities took place in the students‘ usual classrooms and were based on their own concerns and their specific life experiences. The methodology of the co-creation phase included a collective design of one research question, of the scientific parameters to be collected and of the concept of the experiment, in the form of games. Citizen Science experiments were performed in several public spaces of the three cities of Catalonia involved (Badalona, Viladecans and Barcelona) using an experimental set-up especially created in collaboration with designers.
•Set up and launch of the project communication and dissemination strategy and its channels.
In the project, communication serves 3 purposes: 1. promoting the project activities themselves (engaging teachers and students); 2. Informing the society and all stakeholders about the results and use of resources; 3. Contributing to the project exploitation in the long term specially by involving educational authorities. During the project a. o. we :
- organized: 4 conferences, 51 workshops, 1 brokerage event, 3 pitch events and 10 exhibitions,
- published: 18 peer review scientific and 162 non scientific papers, distributed 3639 flyers
- reaching 10.950 persons (participated/organized events, brochures)
•Analysis of labour market supply and demand for STEM skills in Europe
Within WP2, the analysis of current and future demands regarding jobs and competency of STEM in the EU was carried out. Research has been focused on competences which significantly contribute to raising innovativeness, competitiveness and growth of the EU economy. The work explored primary and secondary data, obtained through fieldwork as well as desk research in order to provide a comprehensive overview on the current and future trends on STEM competencies beyond traditional STEM occupations at EU level.
•Content creation, tools and learning methodology development
We created the Multidisciplinary course taking into account the labor market needs and innovative learning tools and methodologies. Depending on a discipline the content is presented on OLCMS in the form of videos, games, power point presentations, interactive PDFs, pen-and-paper exercises, online quizzes, simulations, worksheets, photos and images, presentations, public exhibitions, experiments, open database, scientific papers (science research journals). These innovative forms enable use of different exploitation channels, such as formal education and extra-curricular activities at schools and informal events such as science festivals, popularizing lessons, workshops and others.
•Evaluation and assessment of the Project
The project analyzed the participants’ opinions about STEMforYouth sub-courses and OLCMS platform quality, the trials implementation and the citizen science experiments. It identified the students’ attitudes towards STEM as well as their interest in STEM and their present and future career choice. In general, a positive feedback was obtained. Recommendations were formulated aiming to make curriculum and learning methodologies more effective, and to popularize STEM education across Europe. Finally, recommendations for exploiting the main project products–sub-courses and the OLCMS platform– as well as ideas for future STEM education projects were also provided.
The Citizen Science experiments co-creation and implementation in several public spaces, though having right now mainly a local impact, are setting the basis of a much wider and up-scalable methodology. Experiments were conceived taking into account students’ concerns, which included for example gender violence, the value of public spaces or discrimination. Participation of pedestrians, encouraged by the students, allowed to measure parameters related to the social capital of the cities that were transmitted to the local public institutions. This methodology, having a direct impact on people’s everyday life, can be applied to a wide range of social and geographical sets.

The main innovation from the Open Learning Content Management System (OLCMS) lays on its support for updating the existing content published in editable form and composing personal courses from existing content items. OLCMS is an open-source solution that gives the opportunity to anyone interested to make personal installation and extensions. Available via the browser - does not require installation of any additional software. Also, unlike many online courses today, the educational content on OLCMS may be used both in classes and at home.