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ICSE Factoryreported

Igniting Passions, Shaping Futures

A New Dawn for STEM Education Through Health, Sustainability, and Digitalization

by Elena Suess

In the European project ICSE Science Factory, three pillars of action focus on the themes of health, sustainability, and digitalization. The pilot phase for Lighthouse Activities, Open Schooling Projects, and Career Talks has nearly concluded in Croatia, Cyprus, Germany, Portugal, and Turkey.

A glowing and steaming neon yellow cocktail in standing on a desk. The background is dark purple.

A glowing product of our molecular kitchen workshops: the neon cocktail.

Lighthouse Activities that fascinate

Lighthouse Activities (LHA), such as ‘Molecular Kitchen and Food Additives’, ‘Lesson in the Forest – Climate Impact of Forests’, ‘3D Printing’, ‘Robotic Greenhouse’, ‘With Sensors to Happy Plants’, ‘Machine Learning’, and many others, tackle pressing issues of our times. Take the ‘Molecular Kitchen’ as an instance, where attendees marvel at drinks that glow and change color, and experience the magic of miracle berries that turn sour flavors sweet, all while gaining insights into the science of food, its additives, nutrition, and debunking food myths. These workshops aim not only to impart expertise to a broad audience but also to empower educational institutions to conduct Open Schooling (OS) Projects. In these projects, young people delve deeper into a topic over an extended period.

Creating connections through Open Schooling Projects

Open Schooling (OS) Projects connect regional schools with external partners, including scientists, companies, and non-formal education providers, along with families and interested citizens. The goal is to encourage participants to consider their ecological footprint for future generations. Both LHA and OS address socially and environmentally relevant issues to raise awareness and develop concrete solutions to real-life problems at local, national, and international levels. Our Science Factory Team is designing a range of creative and innovative hands-on activities, making it easier for teachers with heavy workloads to incorporate high-quality content on pertinent topics beside the curriculum.

A group of students are standing in a forest in a round talking. The trees are bare and there are lots of brown leafs on the ground. Some needle trees are in the background.

Open schooling in action in the forest.

Career Talks for female role models

To increase interest in STEM careers among (female) students, the project organizes Career Talks in regional primary and high schools. The objective is to showcase female role models from exciting STEM professions, challenge societal doubts about women’s success in these fields, and ultimately increase the number of women in STEM. In Germany, for example, talks by three women in fields such as mathematics, car mechatronics engineering, forest science, and biology / science communication were held. These talks introduced primary school students to the everyday relevance of mathematics (e.g., also in DIY making jewelry in geometric shapes) and the digital diagnostics used in car mechatronics, sparking significant interest.

Shaping STEM education across Europe

The ICSE Science Factory project marks a pivotal first step in shaping STEM education across Europe, focusing on health, sustainability, and digitalization. By engaging students with practical initiatives like Lighthouse Activities, Open Schooling Projects, and Career Talks, it aims to inspire action for a sustainable future and promote STEM careers, especially among women. As this innovative approach continues across Croatia, Cyprus, Germany, Portugal, and Turkey, the project’s impact on education and global challenges looks promising. Together we pave the way to discovery and enable the next generation to innovate beyond the limits of today’s knowledge and find solutions for a future worth living.

Stay connected with ICSE for updates on our journey to enrich STEM education and follow our ICSE channels for more information!

The creation of these resources has been funded with the support of the Horizon Europe programme of the European Union under grant no. 101093387. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the Agency. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.

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