Teacher training in STEM education works. I have seen it in numerous workshops and I know it is a well-developed expertise of European Schoolnet. I know workshops organized by Scientix, Pathway, eTwinning, inGenious, S-TEAM, SAILS, Open Discover Space, Inspiring Science Education, Quantum Spin-Off, and numerous other projects are well appreciated by teachers.
In addition to teacher training Scientix has had from the beginning the aim to encourage networking. To encourage the transfer of knowledge between different countries, projects and STEM education practitioners. And for over four and a half years I doubted we were making it happen. Not anymore.
The last 3 months of 2014 are being very hectic for Scientix. We had the 2nd Scientix conference in October in Brussels with 600 participants 41 countries. We have the National Scientix conferences in Belgium, Italy, Ireland and Bulgaria. And we have numerous tasks to do for the portal, publications, reporting, planning for 2015, etc.
And in the middle of all this work , I had an epiphany. Tullia Urschitz and Constantina (Tina) Cossu, Scientix Ambassador and Deputy Ambassador for Italy, respectively, picked me up from Pisa airport to bring me with them to Lucca, for the Italian Scientix conference. During the drive they were telling me about the different workshops they have organized under the Scientix umbrella or are planning. In a moment when they started arguing with the GPS which insisted on taking us through dark side roads I got lost in thought and it is when I realized that the catalysing aim of Scientix is finally taking place as well.
Tullia and Tina have been running workshops where they present Go-Lab, Inspiring Science Education, Science where can it take you, the Flipped Classroom concept, Robotics, practical experiments which appear both in the old project Xperimania and a Scientix Moodle course. They are preparing a workshop on half a dozen different nanotechnology projects. And neither I nor any of my colleagues in the Scientix team at European Schoolnet told them to do it. They use Scientix to find similar projects, projects that they, nor European Schoolnet, nor anybody they know in person belongs too, but they have seen their value and are sharing the results and experiences.
And it is not the only case. I saw Rosina Malagrida, from IrsiCaixa, talking about Responsible Research and Innovation during the SSI-RRI conference in Rome, on the 20th of November, mention projects like Quantum Spin-off, which her organization is not involved in, alongside RRI Tools or Xplore Health. I have heard Anna Pascucci, also deputy ambassador of Scientix in Italy give a talk on IBSE, using projects like SUSTAIN, Fibonacci or Amgen Teach as examples. Stany Abraham, deputy ambassador from France, learned about the Science It’s a Girl thing campaign from the EC during the 2nd Scientix conference and now gives talks and workshops on the topic, under the Scientix umbrella. I’ve heard how many other Scientix ambassadors, and representatives from other projects, now cross-disseminate results from related (competing?) projects.
I’ve seen 4 teachers from 3 different countries, sit together and come up with a project over a dinner in Riga. I’ve observed how teachers who met at the beginning of Scientix and struggled to communicate in English, write together Comenius projects three years later which they got funded. I have received emails from many many many teachers which after meeting other STEM teachers from across Europe, are now collaborating, exchanging, meeting…
I’ve had the honour and pleasure to host workshops where representatives from over 20 projects shared their experiences, struggles and achievements in terms of teacher training, policy recommendations, dissemination activities. Workshops where policy advisers told us (finally?) how they wanted the information they are interested in presented (so we can stop creating reports in formats no one will read).
And this makes me proud. It makes me proud of what Scientix has achieved. And as we tell the Scientix ambassadors constantly, in talks, workshops, etc., Scientix is a catalyser. It is not intended to talk about itself. Scientix is there to provide a platform (both online and in person) to get the knowledge flowing. To get the information travelling (what you don’t find in your country/project/class, you can find abroad/elsewhere). To ensure, that no project works by itself. That no STEM centre or organization has to start from scratch. That no teacher faces alone the hard but most needed task of getting kids to know, like and dream about science.
Article written by: Àgueda Gras Velazquez, Scientix Project Manager and Science Team Manager, European Schoolnet