MAKING STEM EDUCATION ATTRACTIVE FOR YOUNG PEOPLE BY PRESENTING KEY SCIENTIFIC CHALLENGES AND THEIR IMPACT ON OUR LIFE AND CAREER PERSPECTIVES

M. Brzozowy1, K. Hołownicka1, J. Bzdak1, P. Tornese2, F. Lupiañez-Villanueva2, N. Vovk3, J.J. Sáenz de la Torre4, J. Perelló5, I. Bonhoure5, E. Panou6, G. Bampasidis6, A. Verdis6, P. Papaspirou6, M. Kasoutas6, I. Vlachos6, S. Kokkotas6, X. Moussas6

1Warsaw University of Technology (POLAND)
2Open Evidence (SPAIN)
3Institute for Developmental and Strategic Analysis (SLOVENIA)
4University of Cantabria (SPAIN)
5Universitat de Barcelona (SPAIN)
6Research Paths (GREECE)
This article presents an approach to STEM education for secondary and high school students proposed by currently ongoing STEM4youth project (SWAFT, H2020, www.stem4youth.eu ). The approach is a result of cooperation and a joint research of 10 European organizations, having deep expertise in science education and science promotion. The ultimate project ambition is to develop educational content and teaching scenarios which will make science education and scientific career more attractive for young peoples. To meet this goal, the project places the STEM education in a broader societal and economy context claiming that education should primarily respond to the labor market demands and address real societal challenges, even it is not directly associated with science.

To address this problem the project seeks to produce a comprehensive, multidisciplinary series of educational content - courses presenting key STEM discipline challenges to support young people, formal and informal education (extra-curriculum activities, science festivals, university organized lectures and web open accessible self-study materials). The content is organized in 6 STEM disciplines: Mathematics, Physics, Astronomy, Chemistry, Engineering and Medicine and one transdisciplinary module “Citizen science at schools”. For each discipline 7-9 challenges (1-2 hours lessons/lectures/ demonstrations / hands-on activities) are being developed identified as the most important to boost the European creativity, competitiveness and innovativeness.

The challenges will be largely presented through their practical applications and their impact on our everyday life and work.
A range of formal and informal methodologies and tools are being employed to present the scientific challenges in an attractive way (learning by experiment, gaming, problem solving, citizen science at schools) Also it will be shown which specific skills and competence STEM education develops and how these skills address the current and future European labor market needs.

As ethics is a fundamental part of any scientific activity and STEM disciplines and STEM-enabled jobs often suffer from a large gender imbalance, the project addresses the five RRI keys elements (societal engagement, gender equality in research and innovation content, open access, science education and ethics).

The article will in details present how the abovementioned general ideas could be practically implemented in STEM education proposing how to harmonize educational content from different areas, how to structure the courses in the most effective way and finally providing practical, detailed guidelines for teachers how to conduct multidisciplinary lessons in a responsive, interactive way. All this material will be prepared in relation to different disciplines and topics together with openly available content ready for immediate use for a teacher.