Education in European schools must meet the new and changing needs of today’s students. A key consideration of modern education relates to the use of modern technologies in teaching practices, with the most important considerations being the competencies of ICT teachers, the Internet, fluent use of English, and the addition of innovation and creativity in teachers’ teaching approaches. In the interest of teachers’ professional development, it is essential that they learn the use of interdisciplinary methods, as well as the use of novel approaches in project-based learning. This project’s aim was to identify successful strategies and techniques for application within the STEM teaching process, with the main idea of sharing good practices and innovative techniques in the teaching of STEM subjects at our schools. Through the use of modern technologies, we wanted to open a window to different cultures, languages, and peoples while cultivating a common European identity. Moreover, the early involvement of children in science focuses on building upon their natural curiosity regarding the world and encouraging their research interests; accordingly, discovering ‘cause and effect,’ guessing, observing, evaluating, and measuring all form a part of this exciting journey.
The project aimed to address students aged 7 to 11 from Bulgaria (SU Ekzarh Antim I, Kazanlak), Slovakia (Spojená škola, Tilgnerova), Finland (Oulun Yliopisto), Austria (Primary School Oberwart), and Portugal (EB1/PE da Lombada-Ponta do Sol), and students aged 11 to 12 from Romania (Colegiul National Gheorghe Lazar Sibiu). Having involved science teachers and primary school teachers from all 6 partner schools, there were a total of more than 850 teachers and students who participated in the project. Moreover, the seminars’ target group for the sharing of good practices that had been learnt online (through the e-Twinnings programme) and at mobility workshops, involved teachers from partner schools who did not participate in the project, nor in the mobility programmes, as well as teachers from the national level and other European countries.
Project partners cooperated virtually to achieve the project’s goals through online sessions and intercultural partnership meetings (LTTA), with international teams consisting of students and teachers from various scientific disciplines developing ‘experiment-based’ stories that were then translated into the languages of participating schools, and illustrated by the students. Moreover, during the mobilities, international teams consisting of students and teachers dramatized these stories, culminating in an English-language e-book that was translated into Bulgarian, Finnish, German, Romanian, Slovak, and Portuguese. By sharing their respective experiences, project partners presented 39 workshops on good practices and innovative techniques for the teaching of STEM subjects at the primary level, the output of which was the brochure "A Few Ideas for Science Education at the Primary Level," which includes methodical instructions on how to manage lessons in STEM fields through the use of digital technologies and Internet-based resources. Descriptions of all workshops were published on the eTwinning project space, as well as on the project’s website, and a special padlet: https://padlet.com/n_djurkova/rgnsvn50tbn6 .
A brochure was also developed, titled “Formative Assessment in the Finnish Context and Co-teaching,” which contains information on formative assessment methods used to improve STEM learning at the primary level. During the mobility and through the use of the eTwinning space, learning activities were implemented through the use of 30 films that were shot during student experiments that had been conducted during partner meetings and online Skype sessions. Students were trained through a peer-training process by participants from other schools with one partner school leading an online session in English in order to demonstrate how an experiment may be carried out and what phenomena may be observed. Various experiments relating to water, sound, power, natural phenomena, dynamics, physical phenomena, motion, energy, forces, light, robotics, and bionics were conducted, following which an online science fair was organised so students could present the innovative outputs that they had produced – the development of which also allowed students to use the Internet for educational purposes. Stories were developed using the principle of a ‘chain,’ whereby a team from one school would begin a story, with other participating schools adding to it as it passed from one school to the next. In total, students created 156 messages, with ‘humanity’ as a whole being their intended recipient. A project-based learning activity intended for partners was also carried out, titled ''Historical Exhibition-evolution of Various Objects in Everyday Human Life,” with each partner school having conducted a study and presentation of a specific subject such as cars, shoes, music instruments, houses, writing instruments, and dolls. Teaching exercises that were carried out aimed to address increased modalities by forwarding learning through the use of our five senses – the three most important of which are sight, hearing, and touch. Through our projects, we wanted to encourage students to discover principles and construct knowledge within a given frame or structure. To this end, an important consideration was to assist students to connect new knowledge with existing bodies of knowledge so as to avoid misconceptions and to build sound scientific understanding. We believe that the learning process occurs in a particularly conducive manner when individuals are involved in product design (constructionism), which is itself facilitated by model building, robotics, video editing, and other similar projects.
Primary dissemination of learnt best practices was carried out through LTTA organised workshops where teachers from partner schools could present their respective best practices in the teaching and learning of STEM subjects at the primary level, according to their own competencies and experience. This way, teachers who were not involved with the mobility programme could also benefit from the programme and learn creative and innovative teaching practices. An important aim was to implement creative, innovative, and digitally based practices and pedagogical techniques among partner schools so as to develop creative ways to teach STEM subjects, while developing students' learning skills. Two projects were registered on the eTwinning community, one of which is "Improving the Success of Students and Teachers through STEM Training." This project details each of the Erasmus+ projects that had been implemented over the years, as well as results of projects and activities that were conducted with other European schools. Within the project’s brochure, there is also a presentation of the methodology used to embed these Erasmus+ projects into various curricula. Moreover, seminars were organised at the regional, national, and European levels in the interest of sharing project results with an increased number of students and teachers external to the project. Partner teams consisting of students and teachers participated in the international conferences "Interpedagogica Graz" and "E-Learning Congress," and also presented the LEGOWeDo workshop at the European level. The Bulgarian school organised three school seminars (including a seminar with teachers from local schools and kindergartens) during which best practices from the project’s workshops were shared with other teachers. On 1 – 2 July 2019, teachers from the Bulgarian team participated in a regional meeting titled "Formation of Key Competencies in Initial and High School," that was organised by the Emilian Stanev and Veliko Tarnovo secondary schools, as well as by the America for Bulgaria Foundation. At a special school meeting on 24 September 2019, an exhibition on innovations presented the Bulgarian school’s pedagogues to 6 countries external to the partnership (Poland, Romania, Croatia, Greece, Spain, and Slovenia), with a STEM exhibition also having been organised at the school in April 2019.
Each partner launched a project web page with various Internet tools, and uploaded information on the project’s activities and results in their respective language.
Application of practices learnt from the workshops led to an improvement in participating schools’ educational environment, with the project having contributed to a significant increase in both teachers’ and students’ skills in the English language, ICT, and various scientific fields. Moreover, there was a marked increase in motivation and satisfaction with regard to daily undertakings due to the visible improvements in educational outcomes for teachers, students, and other related stakeholders within the educational process. The integration of the media environment within the learning process was another new skill that had been acquired, in addition to creative thought, diverse thinking and critical observation, and problem solving. Teachers had also developed the skills needed to delegate responsibilities to students by conducting experiments, and by teaching students ways in which they can undertake experiments during meetings and online sessions. The project was designed so as to have a positive impact on people who were both directly and indirectly involved in its activities (not only during the project but following its completion). The project’s results were used by teachers in their daily assignments to expose students from participating schools to best practices that were shared during the workshops.
During the first year of our Erasmus+ project, we registered an eTwinning project by the title “Enhancing Student and Teacher Success through STEM Education," for which we invited 12 other schools (from 11 European countries external to our partnership) to participate in our project’s activities, with the eTwinning project having been highly evaluated by the national agencies of these schools (10 national and 10 European recognitions of quality from Bulgaria, Portugal, Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Greece, Malta, Lithuania, Macedonia, Armenia, and Turkey). The project’s local impact was that local communities from each partner region benefitted from the scientific interest it generated among younger students, which amounts to a potential investment in the future development of these regions. Moreover, early STEM training among children will build their curiosity about the world and contribute to their future development as responsibilities citizens. At the regional level, the project’s experience was disseminated through seminars to other regional schools, with more teachers having understood the importance of international cooperation and the sharing of best practices in order to improve regional educational quality and services. As an added consideration, an increased number of teachers also learnt about eTwinning, which led them to work on various other projects. At the national level, both students and teachers promoted their country through presentations and regional experiments in partnership meetings, while at the European level, this project’s activities motivated students to learn about other languages and improve their knowledge of the EU, its Member States, and its diversity and values. Indeed, developing a sense of belonging among young people was held to be a suitable investment for the European Union’s future. We were keenly aware of just how important the early years of childhood are for both teachers and students, given the rapid development and acquisition of new skills among children at this stage. The project’s results were disseminated using videos, and a brochure (in partner languages) with a description of scientific experiments and facts, as well as innovative best practices in science teaching and learning. The project’s focal area – science education – is an important consideration with regard to European policy, as it ensures the sustainability of projects that had been implemented, and their application by other parties (including high and junior school students). All of the project’s results are available on eTwinning, the European Shared Treasure, and on the project’s YouTube channel. These tools are not subject to time constraints, which allow for their access even after the project’s completion.
- Project locations
- Project category
- Primary education
- Project year
Colegiul Național Gheorghe Lazăr Sibiu
Spojená škola Tilgnerova 14
EB1/PE da Lombada – Ponta do Sol