Robotics Opportunities (to foster) STEM Education
Start date: Sep 1, 2014,
End date: Aug 31, 2017
The ROSE partnership has been conceived against the background of the current crisis and the lack of growth and youth’s unemployment that have been upsetting strongly Europe’s society in the last 5 years. A paradox is evident: while Europe is struggling with two-digit youth unemployment statistics, companies experience growing difficulties in recruiting engineers and other technologists and scientists. Education is therefore called to respond to the urgent need of highly skilled engineers and technologists and labour supply must match demand as recognised in the Flagship initiative “An Agenda for new skills and jobs” in the EUROPE 2020 strategy of the EC.
The motivation is identified by the specific objectives of the ERASMUS+ Programme and namely to [improve the level of key competences and skills with particular regard to their relevance for the labour market..] and [foster quality improvements, innovation excellence and internationalization at the level of education (…) through enhanced transnational cooperation..]. The first, and long term, rationale behind this proposal is in fact that one of enhancing the attractiveness of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) disciplines by mean of the use of robotics and automation, which have been proven to be a successful leverage mean. The proposed partnership aims to respond to the high expectations coming from a labour market that values not only their academic background but also their broader competencies and skills developed during the learning path.
The motivation of making the STEM disciplines more attractive to students in schools is to contribute to the headline education target of the Europe 2020 Strategy, namely to reduce the school-drop-out rates. By informing the students at an early stage about the possibilities that an education in the STEM disciplines can offer them - and in particular presenting to them the specific fields of robotics and automation – will encourage them and be an incentive for choosing to continue their study instead of dropping out. Young people should not only have access to high quality education but also receive information early about their options and employment possibilities in different disciplines.
Furthermore, the rationale is correlated to the following policy priority of the programme: [developing basic and transversal skills (…) using innovative and student-centred pedagogical approaches and developing appropriate assessment and certification methods, based on learning outcomes].
Gender, minorities and accessibility issues will also be address as the representation of our society in the STEM disciplines does not appear to be balanced at all.
Related to this, as a more specific approach, the present project is focused on the fact that the level of employability, competitiveness and wealth of our society will depend on the ideas and skills of its population. These have always been the EU’s most important assets. As the world becomes increasingly technological, the value of these national assets will be determined in no small measure by the effectiveness of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education in the EU. STEM education will determine whether Europe will be able to solve immense challenges in such areas as energy, health, environmental protection, and national security. It will help produce the capable and flexible workforce needed to compete in a global marketplace an it will generate the scientists, technologists, engineers, and mathematicians who will create the new ideas, new products, and entirely new industries of the 21st century.
The proposed methodology proposes a careful analysis of the present situation in terms of attractiveness of the STEM disciplines in the concerned partners at all levels of school education. This includes a collection of data on the number of students choosing a STEM oriented path at the level of HE. After this first phase the partnership will start an intensive period of teamwork aiming to realize concrete actions to empower and enhance the attractiveness of the STEM disciplines at the school level such as open days and guidance intervention, technical visits to the partner HEIs, short training within the involved corporate, virtual fora, festivals which will imply the massive use of the ICT and the social networks. In particular student competitions models such as Robocup, Robocup Jr., Sauc-e, Erathlon will be exploited, with a special attention to younger pupils who appear not to be sufficiently addressed by these initiatives. Robotics and automation will be extensively used to propose concrete (and attractive) examples on the direct application of the STEM disciplines. Finally a new survey will be conducted in order to measure any possible improvement in the attractiveness level of the STEM.
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