USING COMPETITIONS TO RAISE TEENS KNOWLEDGE AND INTEREST ABOUT EU MATTERS

S. Santana, C. Varum

University of Aveiro (PORTUGAL)
Many countries are interested in how best to prepare young people to be active, informed and responsible citizens. In the European context, this recent studies highlight a deficit in teens civic knowledge about EU matters. With so many entertainment options and educational demands competing for time, it is difficult to identify ways to act upon this fact. Schools curriculum have an important role to play in helping teenagers to improve their knowledge and understanding of the local, national, European and worldwide community in which they live. Nonetheless, the use of competitions to diffuse knowledge is, nowadays, and from our point of view, a sound and effective way to reach this audience. Indeed, from sports, arts, and the military, the concept of competitions eventually spread to the scientific world. In this paper we explain how competitions can be used to for that purpose, and we explore the experience gathered through a competition that was launched by a Portuguese University, targeting secondary students, under an initiative by the Jacques Delors European Information Centre. A competition was designed to familiarize teens with political, economic and social issues related with the future of the EU. The competition uses ludic activities to trigger teens interest and knowledge about the EU matters. The paper discusses the activities performed under the NOS@EUROPE contest, as well as its impact upon teens understanding about EU matters. In the future, these young people may be more interested, able and open to understand the complex issues that surround them. Moreover, these competitions may also contribute to strengthening the ability of teachers to address such topics and opportunities for students to discuss and participate in school about their civic knowledge and engagement.
keywords: eu, competition, teens.