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Inclusive STEM Education to Enhance the capacity to aspire and imagine future careers
Start date: Sep 1, 2016, End date: Aug 31, 2019 PROJECT  ONGOING 

The strategic partnership (SP) will develop innovative teaching-learning modules and guidelines for supporting secondary school students’ aspiration and imagination towards the future. Our inclusive, future-oriented pedagogy addresses the acute problems of European societies related to science education: the decrease in student interest in pursuing STEM (Science-Technology-Engineering-Mathematics) careers and the “skill-gap” between school learning and labour market needs. Furthermore, in the midst of dramatic social change with unprecedented flows of migrants to the region, Europe more than ever needs education that acknowledges and anticipates diversity.Underlying these problems and challenges is students’ difficulty in projecting themselves into the future as responsible and active persons, citizens and professionals. While the problem touches the whole generation, especially the migrant youths coming from different cultures and difficult experiences face challenges in finding themselves in their new context and in imagining their future. In order to foster such capacities, our SP creates novel ways to develop future-scaffolding skills of all upper secondary school students (ages 16-19). These skills include strategic thinking and planning, risk taking, thinking beyond the realm of possibilities, action competence, managing uncertainty and creative thinking.The SP consists of three secondary schools, two universities, an environmental NGO, a teachers’ association and a private foundation. The partners are from four European countries: Italy, Finland, Iceland and the United Kingdom. The SP grounds on two well-established and effective school-university partnerships: one between the Liceo A. Einstein and the Department of Physics of the University of Bologna (UNIBO), and the other between Helsinki Normal Lyceum and the Department of Physics of the University of Helsinki (UH). The Icelandic Environment Association (IEA) brings to the SP their expertise in environmental and sustainability education and the action competence approach. Hamrahlid College in Iceland adds to the cultural diversity of students and teachers participating in the project. The partnership between the three schools in Helsinki, Reykjavik and Rimini is projected to be fruitful in terms of cultural exchange and the generalisability of the results. Both aspects are boosted also by the Association for Science Education (ASE) who bring added value through their extensive school and teacher network in the UK. In order to connect school science to competences needed in the labour market, the Fondazione Golinelli (FG) in Bologna, Italy, joins the partnership. The SP will develop “I SEE” modules on cross-cutting and societally relevant fields such as climate change or nanotechnology. A module consists of materials and a manual for teachers and students on activities both in the classroom and in out-of-school settings. The start-up module developed during the first year will be implemented, tested and refined in the Summer School which will host a culturally diverse group of students from all four countries as well as teachers, educational researchers and other stakeholders. On the basis of the discussions and results, the partners develop three “I SEE” modules through a multiple back and forth process of design, cross-testing and refinement that will run over the second and the third year. In addition to “I SEE” modules, the outputs of the project include a guide for developing further I SEE modules, case studies, and recommendations for inclusive STEM education to enhance the capacity to aspire. The materials will be provided both in electronic form and in print, and made publicly available through the web-site and the e-Twinning platform. To increase the impact, national and international multiplier events will be organized in four countries. The modules developed by the project will directly and indirectly benefit hundreds of teachers and students and reach thousands through multiplier events and dissemination.The project will contribute to students’ employability, scientific literacy, identity formation and capacities to aspire and imagine the future. Teachers will acquire abilities to design, test and apply modules where science learning becomes a vehicle for inclusive and sustainable personal growth. Both students and teachers will gain skills in the context of cutting-edge science. The participating schools and other institutions will incorporate cultural perspectives and future-orientation into the core of their STEM pedagogy and serve as national and international hubs for committed networks. In addition, this project provides longer term benefits for research and researchers by opening interdisciplinary and potentially ground-breaking research opportunities in the field of science education and serving as a framework for further studies developing and studying future-scaffolding learning environments.

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