STEM Teacher Professional Development Project in Four European Countries Will Help Bring STEM Teaching into the 21st Century

STEM Teacher Professional Development Project in Four European Countries Will Help Bring STEM Teaching into the 21st Century

Monday, October 7, 2013 - 1:00pm

CAMPAIGN: Education

CONTENT: Press Release

October 7, 2013 /3BL Media/ - A new World Education project, funded by the Verizon Foundation, aims to develop and strengthen STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) teaching at the secondary level in the UK (Scotland), France, Germany and the Netherlands. The project addresses a growing awareness by education policy makers in Europe that student performance in STEM subjects needs considerable attention in order to better prepare youth for STEM careers.

Promoting interest in studying STEM subjects needs to start early, in secondary school if not in primary, in order to have enough potential graduates in the pipeline to fill existing jobs that require STEM skills.  A 2011 report by BusinessEurope noted that supply of STEM graduates has stagnated over the past 10 years, and that interest in studying STEM subjects is dropping in many EU countries, with the share of STEM graduates having fallen in relation to the total number of graduates by over 2 percent between 1999 and 2005.

World Education’s partner in the project is the International Partnership Network (IPN), through its secretariat in Scotland.  The project builds on the IPN’s many years of work in promoting the use of space exploration in STEM teaching, particularly in Scotland, and World Education’s work in teacher professional development and inquiry-based learning.

Upon learning that the Verizon Foundation grant had been approved, Joel Lamstein, World Education CEO noted, “World Education is very pleased with this opportunity to work with Verizon Foundation and local partners in Europe to enrich STEM subject teaching in schools.  Opportunities abound for STEM graduates in European economies and we are proud to make a contribution to introducing exciting content, better teaching methods and improved use of hand held technologies in classroom instruction.

The eight core teachers recruited for the project will make greater use of inquiry-based learning and hand-held learning technologies, and they will use space exploration as the ‘hook’ for enthusing youth to study STEM subjects.  Supported by project staff, these teachers will build a community of practice of teachers of STEM subjects to cascade information about the project and the teaching methods and material developed.

The project, called BEST 21 (Bringing European STEM Education into the 21st Century), is expected to reach 800 teachers and 800 students. Two teachers from two secondary schools in each of the four countries will be recruited to form the core of a community of practice which will cascade inquiry-based teaching/learning methods; space-related educational resources; and ways of using hand-held/mobile devices to other teachers. At least half of the core teachers selected will be women, and the group will include teachers who work in urban and rural areas and whose students represent varying socio-economic levels. Recruitment of core teachers will be carried out in consultation with existing teacher professional development networks and other relevant organisations in each of the four countries. 

Anthony Llompart, Director of International Programs for the Verizon Foundation, said “On-going training for teachers is needed as they look to integrate advanced technology in the classroom.  We are supporting teachers who are using technology to help students better understand and increase their interest in STEM subjects. At Verizon, we believe our long-term growth and success are tied to addressing some of society’s biggest issues, and we want to do our part to help students achieve.”

Core teachers will attend Space Center Houston’s Space Exploration Teachers’ Conference (SEEC) and also participate in a specially designed program of activities which offers exposure to NASA scientists, astronauts, engineers and education staff.  Project teachers also will feature the project in a special STEM panel on innovations in teacher professional development at the biannual IPN 2014 conference.   

In addition, the teachers will contribute to the planning of the first European SEEC, which will take place alongside IPN 2014. In the first year this will focus on the teachers involved in the project, but it will be expanded in subsequent years.  These professional development opportunities will focus on new content for STEM teachers and increased use of Information Communications Technology ICT and hand-held/mobile technologies in their teaching practice.

The teachers will have access to a wide range of materials and expertise from Space Center Houston, NASA and the European Space Agency.  These materials will form the basis of an on-line resource guide developed by the teachers and supported by the project team.

Participating teachers will have virtual and face-to-face access to project staff, which will make site visits to all teachers.  The evaluation plan includes both formative and summative evaluation activities.

Information on project activities will be disseminated on a regular basis through a range of media—blogs, SMS, tweets and videos. Project partners will feature the project on their respective websites as a means of reaching a larger population of educational practitioners interested in learning more about ways in which to create greater interest in STEM subject teaching and learning. In addition, Verizon’s awarding winning free online resource for educators called, will share best practices from teachers in this project.

World Education and IPN will work closely with Verizon officials in each of the four countries to seek ways in which Verizon’s employees can contribute in terms of volunteering or mentoring to enhance the project.

Media Contacts:

David Kahler, World Education

Alex Blackwood, International Partnership Network

Harry Mitchell, Verizon


CATEGORY: Education