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Center for STEAM Education Research, Science Communication and Innovation

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - CSRC (Center for STEAM Education Research, Science Communication and Innovation)

Reporting period: 2017-09-01 to 2018-08-31

The Cyprus Science and Research Centre (acronym: CSRC) aims to become a unique Centre of Scientific Excellence for Cyprus and the East Mediterranean area, focusing on the development of innovative and top-quality research within STEAM Education, Science Communication and interactive and digital technologies for STEAM. All eight Cypriot Universities join forces for the first time, and along with GrantXpert Consulting Ltd and prestigious EU research organisations and Science Centres, they undertook the responsibility to develop a unique Centre of Scientific Excellence in Cyprus, dedicated to STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) education research, science communication and entrepreneurship education. The key objective of CSRC is to address effectively major unmet needs of Cyprus in the research and technological innovation areas, which at present, constrain the economic development of the island. This objective closely adheres to the priorities of the Cyprus Smart Specialisation Strategy and of the European Commission (EC), for the enhancement of innovation and entrepreneurship to bring sustainable economic growth and prosperity at national and EU level. The envisaged Research Cluster (RC) areas to be developed are within the new Centre are: Research and Innovation Culture (RC1), Digital and Emerging Technologies for STEAM education (RC2), and Science in Society and Public engagement in Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) (RC3).

The importance of CSRC for the society can be identified in the vision and mission statements of CSRC. The vision of the Centre is to contribute to the long-term economic, social and innovation growth of Cyprus through the advancement of STEAM research and education, the promotion of innovative and entrepreneurial thinking, the enhancement of a science and research culture and the development of responsible citizenship. The long-term goal is for CSRC to grow as a Centre, where creative and visionary ideas in science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) education are nurtured and implemented leading to a thriving STEAM literate population where all Cypriots will be able to participate, and contribute fully to 21st century society. The Centre will be a place inclusive to all people, including disadvantaged groups of the society, like disables, immigrants, tourists, people with socio-economically disadvantages, people from all races and all ages.

The consortium worked effectively to materialise the plans so that CSRC could have the desired long-term impact and importance to Cyprus and to be self-sustainable from a financial point of view. The specific issues, which had to be addressed during Phase 1, were: (a) the development of a business plan to set up CSRC and make it operational and financially viable, (b) the development of the CSRC research strategy plan and (c) the implementation of a range of dissemination and communication activities related to the project for specific stakeholders, in order to gain their support for project sustainability and for maximising its impact. All of these were importance issues needed to be addressed for the realisation of the CSRC in Phase 2.
The main objective of the CSRC project was to develop a robust and thorough feasibility study and business plan, which will allow the establishment and operation of a Science and Research Centre in Cyprus, once obtaining funds for Phase 2. The CSRC project was launched on September 1st 2017 and was completed on August 31st 2018.

The development of a strategic research plan required the exchange of information on ongoing state-of-the-art research at the premises of the EU academic partners. Information was exchanged and research topics were discussed during visits, between the Cypriot- and EU-academic partners with expertise in science education, science communication and emerging technologies for STEAM. Also, the consortium members were involved in visits to the premises of the Advanced Partners, so as to collect the necessary information towards the preparation of the business plan and best practices at EU and international level, through secondary and primary research, in order to assess the future needs and requirements for the new Centre.

Information was also collected via workshops, focus groups with educators and people from the industry and business sector, and via personal interviews with high level officials in Cyprus. Through these activities, the consortium was able to develop a clear roadmap of the current Cyprus environment regarding the needs for science education and science communication research and for the development of digital technology in these fields. It also helped in identifying preferences for the CSRC location, about its design/construction and the services it could offer, all of which were needed for the business plan.

Dissemination of the project was through the CSRC open events, high-level workshops, project website, dedicated social media accounts etc., as well as by involving the future CSRC stakeholders in activities, such as the University competition for innovative STEAM exhibits, the University Student Competition for the logo of the new Centre and the University Student Competition for the Preliminary Architectural Designs. CSRC also participated in several networking events for further dissemination and communication purposes for networking. Dissemination also helped in the collection marketing information used for the feasibility study towards the preparation of the business plan.
Expected results until the end of the project

From the start until the end of this project the aim was to create wide public awareness about the long-term impact and the benefits that will derive from Cyprus and the wider area from the creation of the CSRC Centre. Thus a number of dissemination and communication activities took place, each for different target groups (teachers/educators, entrepreneurship/innovation experts, students/young people, start-up founders, decision-makers, policy makers, representatives of the Ministry of Education and other formal authorities related to the education area). Our CSRC team aims to enhance and develop even more activities.

Potential impacts

The wider public (including parents and children) have now become better aware in Cyprus of the importance and impact that STEAM teaching has on young people’s education and development and are now more willing to support and encourage the development of such activities and Centres.

Teachers are very willing and interested in supporting the creation of the Science Centre in Cyprus, as they understand the added value that will be offered to their teaching of STEAM concepts and ideas.

Other relevant STEAM-related activities will now be encouraged to be developed, irrespective of whether the CSRC project will materialise following the Phase 2 proposal, as people have developed greater awareness and understanding of the importance of these fields (STEAM, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, critical thinking, problem-solving, etc.)