E. Mavrotheris1, M. Meletiou-Mavrotheris2, I.E. Lasica2

1Open University of Cyprus (CYPRUS)
2European University Cyprus (CYPRUS)
Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education is a field in which schools and other educational institutions invest considerable resources and time to bring innovative solutions within their curricula. At the same time, Augmented reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MR) are emerging technologies in the Immersive Learning Landscape. The EU-funded Erasmus+ project Enlivened Laboratories in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (EL-STEM) aims to introduce a new approach, combining AR/MR technologies with Remote and/or Local Laboratories, for encouraging 12-18 year-old students’ STEM engagement.. Inspired by emerging technologies of IoT (Internet of Things) and AR (Augmented Reality), EL-STEM aspires to connect the physical laboratory and/or the remote laboratory to the digital world and turn it into an “Enlivened Laboratory”. Within the project various digital solutions will be explored to “immerse” students within STEM laboratories while implementing experiments. Moreover, it is expected that more students will be attracted to STEM related studies/careers through intense hands-on experiences, where they can participate, transform and augment what they are implementing, thus applying digital competences, developing haptic skills, collaborating with peers and ultimately, becoming more engaged in STEM education. This approach will be supported at school as well as at home through the involvement of appropriate platforms offering remote access to laboratories.

Acknowledging the crucial role of teachers in any effort to bring about change and innovation, the EL-STEM project will make available the necessary knowledge, indicative tools, and will introduce underlying dynamics in teaching cultures that will enable STEM education to obtain the full benefits of AR/MR. This will be achieved by providing teachers with high quality professional development opportunities to acquire knowledge and skills to effectively embed AR/MR in teaching and learning. More specifically, a comprehensive framework is being created for providing teachers with innovative digital tools to enrich their laboratory-based courses, in order to not only attract students’ attention towards STEM education but also to achieve better performance in STEM related subjects. Project outputs will include AR/MR educational scenarios implemented through Remote and/or Local Laboratories.

The technologies used for the implementation of these scenarios explore where applicable, the utilization of:
(a) AR/MR Remote Laboratories,
(b) AR/MR Local Laboratories,
(c) Mobile Technologies (e.g. smartphones and/or tablets), and
(d) AR hardware technologies (e.g. AR glasses) in the teaching and learning of STEM courses.

The proposed paper will provide an overview of the EL-STEM project theoretical framework, and outline the methodological guidelines on how to implement an Enlivened Laboratory within EU lower and upper secondary education schools.