B. O'Donnell1, H.S. Nguyen2, P. Jouy2

1Heocs (GERMANY)
2Heocs (FRANCE)
PROMETERUSE is an international science outreach project that offers teenagers hands-on involvement in the struggle against climate change. In doing so, it aims to address the widening gap between the number of students applying for degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEMs) and the growing demand for their skills in European economies. We propose to challenge prejudices against careers in STEMs by offering secondary school students a first-hand experience of how exciting, inclusive, international and pragmatic work in these disciplines can be.

PROMETERUSE leans on the emerging technology of smart electricity meters and a suite of novel teaching tools to help teenagers put their STEM knowledge to work. The core objective of the project is for students to monitor and reduce the energy that their school buildings consume. We offer participants for introductory lectures on energy sustainability and climate change that have been designed by our academic partners. We also support teachers and school administrations with material to help students assemble home-made electricity probes, expertise on energy efficiency measures to be implemented on campus, logistical support for fund-raising activities and an international prize to motivate their students.

Schools from across Europe will exchange the data that they record in order to initiate their students to the scientific process of peer-review and to foster cross-border collaboration. The results are to be published online to motivate new schools to take part in the project and to support the research efforts of environmental science institutes and government agencies across the world. Our academic partners are also developing a serious game for households equipped with smart meters to extrapolate the impact of their energy expenditure in real time to a virtual Earth on the screen of their smart phones, one century in the future. PROMETERUSE offers a platform to test game elements designed for this broader public education effort among school students and to help spread the understanding required for its adoption.

Shortages in STEM skills among the European labour force are exacerbated by the fall in women studying these disciplines. PROMETERUSE arranges for mixed teams of science and engineering undergraduates to teach parts of its coursework in local schools, bringing schoolgirls in contact with potential female role models. The subject matter of PROMETERUSE is well suited to a broadly inclusive audience. Climatology and the environmental sciences are cross-disciplinary areas of research with little gender stigma and a tangible application which students can relate to from an early age. Our project encourages teenagers to enjoy their education and offers them a gateway to STEM disciplines so that they can explore new career opportunities.