Innovative project put to the test

How can we make the teaching of mathematics, natural sciences and technical subjects more appealing for school pupils and teachers? How can we trigger children and adolescents' interest in these school subjects, stimulate their curiosity and their passion for learning and research? And how can we make more students than ever wish to get educated at higher schools and universities in these areas?

The authors of the EDUSCIENCE project have sought answers to these vital questions. Their pursuit for these answers has led them to develop new, effective solutions which are just coming into the  mainstream of school practices.

Their search was launched in March 2011. A preparatory stage of the project was run till October 2011. During this stage the problem of insufficient interest by senior secondary school graduates in studying mathematics, natural sciences and technology was diagnosed and analysed. It was also at this stage that an initial version of the project together with its strategy for implementation was developed.

The implementation began in January 2012 and lasted till May 2015. This stage involved:
•    testing the project in schools,
•    development of the final product,
•    analysis of the actual effects derived from introducing the offered solutions (external evaluation),
•    validation,
•    dissemination of the project and getting it into mainstream schools.

The key objectives of the EDUSCIENCE project are as follows:

❆ to increase interest in mathematics, natural, computer and technical sciences as well as foreign languages - thanks to fundamental changes in the existing ways of teaching,
❆ to enhance students' skills of recognising and specifying research problems and their ability to apply research methods within both mathematics and natural sciences - thanks to their deeper involvement in research methodology,
❆ development of skills in the use of information and computer technologies in the process of learning thanks to the application of e-learning and blended learning methods,
❆ to increase girls' interest in mathematics and natural sciences thanks to the application of gender-sensitive forms of promotion of the project, conduct of lessons and construction of teaching curricula.

Prior to the EDUSCIENCE becoming the final product, it was verified that these objectives were achieved. It was tested at 250 schools at all educational stages. The principal testing was conducted from September 2012 to June 2014 at lessons in the following subjects:
•    in 1-3 grade classes at primary schools: early education (mathematical and natural science education),
•    in 4-6 grade classes at primary schools: mathematics and nature subject,
•    at junior secondary schools: mathematics, geography, chemistry, physics, biology,
•    at senior secondary schools: mathematics, geography, chemistry, physics, biology and the Earth science.

Additional lessons during which teachers had an opportunity to use the e-learning platform were as follows: information technology, computer and English language classes.

In total, during 2 years of testing the project, more than 55.000 lesson hours were run.

The EDUSCIENCE project offers:
❆ learning by experiments - the project focuses on engaging school pupils in the conduct of experiments tailored to their age and skills,
❆ different ways to transfer knowledge - there are various types of materials (films, audio files, images, animations, quizzes, cross-words etc.) to be found at the e-learning platform,
❆ direct contact with scientists from the Polish Academy of Sciences - video-conferences, on-line lessons, and visits at observatories give school pupils an opportunity to ask questions, and have an influence on the conduct of studies or experiments,
❆ getting to know various aspects of science - there are satellite broadcasts run from the Hornsund Polish Polar Station in Spitsbergen and from geophysical observatories in Poland,
❆ modern teaching techniques - school pupils are not only recipients of methods applied by teachers but also themselves get to know their abilities and learning styles, thus they are consciously and actively involved in the process of learning.

All of this makes the EDUSCIENCE project an innovative project which meets the requirements and expectations of Polish schools, their pupils and teachers.