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  • Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SciChallenge (Next Generation Science Challenges Using Digital and Social Media to Make Science Education and Careers Attractive for Young People)

SciChallenge Report Summary

Project ID: 665868
Funded under: H2020-EU.5.a.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SciChallenge (Next Generation Science Challenges Using Digital and Social Media to Make Science Education and Careers Attractive for Young People)

Reporting period: 2015-09-01 to 2016-05-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

Science education is crucial for shaping the present and the future of modern societies. But although the demand for professionals in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) is constantly increasing, the enrolment rates in STEM-programs are decreasing.

The SciChallenge project addresses this issue by launching a pan-European STEM-contest for getting young people between of 10 to 20 years excited about the STEM-topics. Participating individuals or groups will develop a topic-specific project and submit videos, presentations or posters through the SciChallenge Platform. By using a combined online community rating and jury rating approach, 12 winners will be selected and awarded in Vienna in June 2017. In order to promote the contest, supporting schools, teachers and other youth-oriented institutions will be involved.

In addition to its function as the main contest channel, the SciChallenge platform will furthermore serve as an awareness channel, which will provide information on events, careers, internships or open days in STEM-institutions.
SciChallenge will strongly empower the European landscape of educational methods and resources. Combining a social media based contest for young people with the excitement of the video and other multimedia content production, will promote science and research careers on the long term.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

In the beginning, the coordination of the project focused very much on enabling a good start into the project. The kick-off meeting was crucial for developing a common understanding on the main direction and the structuring of the work. The coordinator also set up several templates for collections and the deliverable reports. Furthermore, the coordinator was responsible for the final quality check as well as for the submission of the deliverables. The consortium submitted 14 deliverables until the end of the first project period.
A fundamental objective of the second workpackage was to gather knowledge about existing stakeholders and to aggregate and structure existing studies, good practices and projects on science education. Existing participatory science contest were also evaluated along an evaluation framework focusing on their strengths and weaknesses. The comparison and lessons learned from other contests provided crucial information for specifying the detailed SciChallenge contest concept. Furthermore, educational sources were collected in various scientific disciplines including digital sources, libraries and collaboration utilities. These resources will be integrated into the SciChallenge platform and can be used during the contest as well as afterwards.

The third workpackage focused very much on the preparation of the SciChallenge contest. Against the background of a detailed elaboration on the ethical issues and inspiring insights by science teachers from different countries, which were collected by the partners in a qualitative survey, the innovative SciChallenge contest concept was developed. It makes use of social media and allows the participants to work on a project in a STEM-field of their choice and at the same time addressing major societal challenges. In order make the participation as easy as possible, toolkits in the sense of guidelines and instructions for both the students and their teachers or parents were developed.

Furthermore, the early prototype of the web platform was developed as part of the fourth workpackage. It will serve as the entry point for the contest as well as for the awareness creation. The prototype is accessible as a demonstrator and the basic structure is set up. Over the next months, the different modules for the contest as well as for awareness creation will be integrated and tested regarding their usability.

As part of the seventh workpackage, a project website as well as social media channels were installed and are constantly updated. Furthermore, a project poster, a folder, an involvement flyer and a video were produced and distributed. In order to have a coherent strategy for presenting SciChallenge and its outcomes, a comprehensive communication plan was developed, which includes a schedule for setting particular activities. Based on the communication plan, the first dissemination package was produced, which not only includes a set of dissemination material but also the 1st SciChallenge Newsletter.

Another major activity of the consortium – in line with the communication plan and the dissemination package – was the presentation of the project at more than 10 conferences and workshops. It included poster as well as paper presentations at various occasions all over Europe and beyond. Furthermore, in addition to press coverage, the consortium recently published an article on SciChallenge in a conference proceeding.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

The main progress of the SciChallenge beyond the state of the art is the concept of the SciChallenge contest. Our analysis of other STEM-contest, which was conducted in the first period of the project, showed that STEM-contests are usually organized in a rather traditional manner around a particular question or with a rather classical rating system. The SciChallenge contest however differs because of several reasons.

First, it proposes 50 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. In addition to the suggested topics, there is furthermore an open STEM-category, allowing new topics closely related to the STEM fields to be submitted in the contest. Due to this new approach, SciChallenge different from other contests in this field and certainly goes beyond the state of the art.

Second, SciChallenge differs because of its strong focus on new media tools and its integration of social media. The contest participants are presenting their creative ideas by preparing a poster, presentation or video and by using Slideshare or YouTube. Hence, the contributions can be publicly accessed (“viewed”) and “liked”, and the views as well as the likes will be part of the rating. Therefore, it is crucial that the participants promote their contribution and get broad attention for their project. Of course the project will also integrate science education and communication experts in the jury. Hence, the combined online and jury rating makes SciChallenge distinct from other STEM-contests.

Third, our analysis of STEM-contests showed that most STEM-contests are either a once-only event, or they are annually or bi-annually repeated focusing more or less on the same topics. In contrast, the SciChallenge project develops a general framework for pan-European education contests. It is intended that the basic framework, which includes the digital core as well as the particular steps that are required, can be r re-applied for future contests. Ideas for the future application of the SciChallenge contest system will be developed as part of the exploitation plan.

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