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Boosting science education by exchanging experiments!

Science Centre AHHAA took part of an Erasmus+ KA2 strategic partnership project named Boosting Science Education at School. The partnership taught each other and learned how to spice up regular STEM school classes with engaging hands-on experiments. During 2 years, between October 2017 and October 2019, there were 4 trainings, one in each partnering country - Romania, Italy, Greece and Estonia.

European STEM teachers don't often have the time to research innovative science education methods. This is why the Boosting Science project was called into action. Each partnering country involved a local school and a local informal science education organization. The partnership was thus very diverse and allowed for effective exchange of best practices.

Boosting Science partners (in addition to AHHAA) are:

  • Tamme Gymnasium (Estonia) – a modern well equipped high school, that has a genetics laboratory, among other things;
  • Barnova School (Romania) – a small and charming historical school in the country side;
  • Ludor Engineering (Romania) – an organization developing educational materials and trainings involving ICT, robotics and other types of technology;
  • Larissa Music School (Greece) – a high school focusing on musical education;
  • Digital Idea (Greece) – organizer of educational activities and events involving ICT and natural sciences;
  • Maria Montessori School in Rome (Italy) – a primary and secondary school that implements the Montessori pedagogical method (mixed age classes, students' freedom to choose their lessons, self-initiation etc.);
  • The Science Zone (Italy) – a student organization linked with the Sapienza University that conducts outreach workshops in their community;
  • Euphoria (Italy) – leading partner, an NGO focusing on social and educational issues;

Three people from each organization visited the trainings organized by host partners, that each lasted 4 days and culminated with a School Science Day at a local school. This allowed the trainees to try out their new skills on actual students, reinforcing what has been learned. As some of the partner schools had very young children, international partners couldn't always engage them in English. But whenever it was possible, the intercultural dimension of their tutors provided an excellent step outside of the students' regular routine and comfort zone.

In each training host partners presented at least 5 different scientific educational activities that they themselves run successfully. Trainees divided into groups, according to their interests, and worked thoroughly with the presented experiments, adding their own observations and ideas, and finally conducting the experiments with children during the School Science Day. In addition, partners created a script and filmed tutorial videos for each of the experiments.

Filming the experiments was a valuable lesson in the Boosting Science project. The necessary showmanship skills, planning the scenes and multicultural cooperation are not trivial questions that can be fixed in post-production. Armed with these new insights and lessons from their failures and successes, partners wish to put these new educational media skills into use in the future.

Take a look at our 20 video tutorials on our YouTube channel over at www.youtube.com/boostingscience. Each tutorial has English, Italian, Greek, Romanian and Estonian subtitles. The tutorials include experiments on topics such as the Bernoulli principle, static electricity, Coke+Mentos, osmosis, swinging pendulum etc.

The video tutorials go along with our Report on Best Practices (attached to this news piece) that details all of the experiments, how to conduct them, what materials are needed and where to find extra information.

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Tags

  • science education
  • filmmaking
  • YouTube
  • experiments
  • school
  • teacher
  • erasmus

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AHHAA Science Centre Foundation

AHHAA was established as a special project of the Department of Research and Institutional Development of the University of Tartu (founded in 1632). AHHAA started its activities with a laser show in front of Tartu Observatory on September 1, 1997, and has had a strong and stable development ever since. The purpose of AHHAA is to introduce science to everyone. Using interactive and entertaining methods and the scientific excellence of 370-year old Tartu University, we try to overcome fear and prejudice towards learning.