Europe’s future economy and social coherence is depending on young generations with interests, skills and capacity far beyond what is offered in the traditional educational system.
Europe needs young people deeply engaged in science, research and innovation – and based on positive and engaging experiences of what science, research and innovation is at a very early age and in early schooling.
Young people are increasingly disengaged from science learning in schools and this is causing great concern in the EU Commission and among other global players.
We call this the Commission’s SCIENCE LEARNING INNOVATION AGENDA, described and documented across numerous Commission documents, research papers and guidelines.
“Our research points to the potential value of schools and science educators engaging in activities and approaches that enable teachers and students to deconstruct popular gender discourses and stereotypes.”
“Balancing Acts”: Elementary School Girls’ Negotiations of Femininity, Achievement, and Science, 2012 (Archer et al)
The ScienceGirls project aims to contribute to the Science Learning Innovation Agenda through practical experimentation in secondary school, and guided by Commission recommendation and by guidelines from leading science learning research communities. The project aims impact on science learning in schools re-defining it’s to appeal to the young generations.
Synthesizing leading research, it is clear that most girls do not feel comfortable with science education and the values and personal identities linked to science and science jobs. The problem is not a lack of intellectual capacity; the problem is at identity level.
The teenage years are precisely the most important time in life for creating identity and personality, including gender identity, and this is why resistance to science among most school girls might in fact lasts a lifetime: when resistance towards certain school interests is directly linked to the creation of one’s identity and personality, the resistance is very difficult to overcome in later in life.
This is why ScienceGirls addresses teenage girls from 13 to 15 years old and their relations to science learning.
The project will engage the girls in 3 major challenges:
HOW WE FEEL SCIENCE
– create a more authentic understanding of science and gender in early schooling through engaging teenage girls as co-creators of this understanding, through telling the personal and collective and gender-sensitive stories about science education and about the image of science in society
SCIENCE IN REAL-LIFE
– engage the girls and their support teachers in real-life/time science and research experience in collaboration with the local community, including interacting with female role-models in science and research
VISIONS OF EARLY SCIENCE ENGAGEMENT
– invite the girls to co-create scenarios of new ways of science learning in school that will appear attractive and relevant to teenage girls and their emerging gender identities
Their teachers will learn about gender-sensitive science learning alongside the teams, and support the participation of the girls’, but will not hold a privileged position in the project, as a united research community clearly states that “science teachers are a part of the problem”, very often practicing forms of science teaching that disfavors girls and confirms many girls’ “prejudices” against science and science jobs.
The project will focus on and work through 5 overall innovative thematics, based on comprehensive preparatory reviews of recent science learning research:
- REAL-LIFE EXPERIENCE – OPEN SCHOOLING
- MIXED REALITY COLLABORATION
- AUTHENTIC VISIONS FOR ATTRACTIVE GENDER-SENSITIVE SCIENCE ENGAGEMENT
The project consortium is organized accordingly: 6 secondary schools as practice partners + 1 secondary school engaged through the Spanish knowledge partner, 2 academic institutions as knowledge partners and a quality assurance partner with 15 years of EU experience.
Leading gender-sensitive science researcher Professor Louise Archer from the King’s College in London has signed an agreement to collaborate with the project.
A strong and most dynamic climax in the project will be the 5 days SCIENCEGIRLS SCIENCE VISION ENCOUNTER mobility, along which the participating girls will create visions for what science learning in school could be – with a strong focus on female identity.
- THE SCIENCEGIRLS GUIDANCE TO GENDER-SENSITIVE SCIENCE LEARNING INNOVATION IN SECONDARY SCHOOL
- THE SCIENCEGIRLS 30 MINUTES VIDEO
- SCENARIOS OF INNOVATIVE SCIENCE LEARNING IN SECONDARY SCHOOL – produced by the girls- teams
- Policy paper: INNOVATION IN SCIENCE LEARNING IN SCHOOLS IS IMMINENT – BUT WHO WILL DRIVE?
- Knowledge paper: CO-CREATION AND THE SCIENCE LEARNING INNOVATION AGENDA