Scientix and Spice expert and teacher panels meet in Brussels to share their knowledge
From 21-22 May 2010, science education experts and teachers met in Brussels for a joint project meeting for DG Research’s new Scientix Portal and DG Education and Culture’s Spice project. The expert panel, selected by Ministries of Education in eleven countries (1) met on the 21st to discuss and share information about the two projects; while the teacher panel, made up of teachers from sixteen countries (2), joined on the 22nd and 23rd for an introduction to both projects.
During the first expert workshops on Scientix , participants were introduced to the different sections of the forthcoming Scientix portal which will contain all information from European projects relating to science education for teachers, researchers and policy makers. Peter Grey, from the FP7 S-TEAM project, and Patricia Corieri, from the Fibonnaci project, also participated in the meeting and presented their own projects to experts. Following this workshop, both experts and teachers participated in a brainstorming session on the conference programme for the 6-8 May 2011 Scientix Conference.
Overall, the teachers present during the Scientix workshop were quite positive about the project, highlighting: “the possibility of participating through Twitter and Facebook, which makes things easier to follow and get in touch”; the idea of having a vast number of teachers from different nationalities and with different languages sharing information and knowledge: and, the fact that “individuals will be able to access a good selection of learning resources, easily, instead of having to track the Internet in search of different websites which are usually messy and without quality control” was a great added value.
The experts agreed with the teachers on the possibilities and soundness of the Scientix project, also praising the design, user friendly approach and competence of the Portal. Functions they particularly liked were the possibility to ask for translations (crucial for involving and empowering schools), the chat feature (which would encourage teachers to share impressions and ideas) or the fact that information is easily accessible and comprehensive.
Friday afternoon’s expert session then focused on Spice. The experts were introduced, not only to Spice, but also to a number of other projects that aim to improve science education, such as Nanoyou, U4energy (coming soon) and eQnet. Ana Paiva, from the Portuguese Directorate General for Innovation and Development (DGIDC), and Petr Chalus, from the Czech Centre for International Services of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (DZS), also shared information on their institutions activities on science education. Saturday’s programme was then spent showing Spice to teachers, who went through seventy-two good practice initiatives on science education. Twenty-four were selected for testing during the 2010-2011 school year.
According to Thomas Roche, a teacher from Cork, Ireland, the Spice meeting provided an “inclusive, pedagogical, social and cultural environment,” a sentiment shared by teachers and experts alike. Comments on the good organisational skills, the friendly atmosphere and quality of the proposals were but some of the teachers' responses when asked for feedback.
The experts' opinions were along the same lines, complementing the discussions on the recent approaches to Maths, Science and Technology (MST) with a view to advancing teachers' teaching of science subjects or the possibility to meet colleagues from other institutions and education ministries to exchange experiences and ideas. The only criticism brought forward was the need for more time to deal with all the innovative and useful ideas.
Nevertheless, the sense of achievement and the enthusiasm with which everyone left the meetings was very positive, and thus added to the enjoyment of the meetings as a whole.
Note: Pictures from the meetings can be found at:
1 Experts from Ireland, Belgium’s Dutch-speaking community, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Slovenia, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Austria and Finland.
2 Teachers from all the above countries in addition to Belgium’s French-speaking community, Poland, Romania, France and Lithuania.