I have been the deputy ambassador for the Scientix project for a number of months now and I was pleased to be asked to continue this work through cycle 2 of the project. This is an exciting time for the project as it not only builds the resources and training opportunities through the portal itself, but also organises a large conference for around 600 STEM educators in Brussels.
I have previously spoken about why I got involved in the Scientix project but here I want to summarize some of the things I have learnt about the portal, especially during the most recent gathering of Scientix Ambassadors in Brussels.
If you have not yet signed up, you should. One of the big things they are going to try to implement during this cycle of the project are free webinars and more CPD opportunities for teachers. And as ever my favourite aspect is that they will translate project resources to any European language free of charge. This is very useful as it enables lots of teachers to tap into projects that are often only written in English.
I always come away from these things with a case full of interesting pamphlets and notes about the various projects you can find on the Scientix Portal.
Example TEMI Resources
Teaching Enquire with Mysteries Incorporated is a teacher training project promoting Inquiry Based Science Education (IBSE, yes I love acronyms too). By using the idea of a mystery they want to encourage teachers to train each other and their students on the process of solving scientific problems. Like me and many others, they believe that engagement makes it easier for students to learn and this happens in an effective way if we, the teachers, help make connections between science and student’s everyday lives. The problem is how to fit this into the constraints of curriculum requirements.
Here were some of TEMI’s key points:-
- Presentation skills are important but have you thought about how to do this in an interesting, non-stand at the front PowerPoint way? Maybe think about using theatre in lessons for coaching in presentation skills (I am reminded of the plays by year 7 did about the story of Edward Jenna, such fun)
- A science mystery is a phenomenon or event that provokes the perception of suspense and wonder in the learner to initiate a “Want to know”
- WOW questions from kids OR questions that cause cognitive conflict? – not a strict definition
- Training through enquiry labs – 2 days run by training partners across Europe
- Makes use of the 5E learning cycle
- Teach skills with Gradual Release of Responsibility
SAILS (King’s College London – Paul Black)
SAILS stands for Strategies for Assessment of Inquiry Learning in Science. I think in STEM education we are reasonably good at including in science, although often people think that “doing a lab” is the same thing and it isn’t. The good thing about the SAILS presentation is that I was reminded of an activity I did way back in the distant pass at a GTP/ NQT training day run by the Universities of York and Sheffield Hallam. We were given a satsuma and asked if it will float or sink. Even back then it generated a lot of discussion from the teachers. Another idea that I was presented at that conference was about investigating why mentos dropped into coke caused all those bubbles! But I digress.
This particular project was presented by staff from King’s College London and aims to give teachers some structure/ rubrics to assist in the assessment of inquiry based learning tasks.
This project looked interesting but we don’t have access to dataloggers in my school. It left me wondering whether there us somewhere in Sweden where you can borrow data loggers like you can in Finland? What about when using Chromebooks? I’d love to investigate more but think time constraints will make it difficult.
There will be a new Odysseus competition starting in 2015 and the organisers noted that the winning teams did well because they collaborated well
It is important to note that you need parental consent to take part AND to have pics and videos on the website – can’t compete without it.
Since moving to Sweden I have become more interested in the use of STEM competitions to engage students. To this end I also picked up a copy of European Schoolnet’s report into the evaluation of European Science Fairs, although I haven’t had time to read it yet.