The EU-funded PERFORM project is exploring innovative ways to overcome a lack of interest in science careers among young Europeans. Solutions include using performing arts in secondary schools around Europe to encourage engagement with science.
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A significant number of young Europeans are not interested in a career in science, technology, engineering or mathematics commonly known as STEM subjects. This is often because they believe they lack the skills needed to succeed in these subjects. But if we are to secure the future of science and innovation in Europe, it is among young people that interest in these subjects must be fostered.
PERFORM is testing creative approaches aimed at encouraging young people to continue their studies in STEM subjects. Using performing arts has proved successful, and the project team is conducting research into the skills required by educators to replicate this approach.
PERFORM will develop a number of tools and training kits to help disseminate the best approaches to fostering STEM subject engagement. The kits could be used by teachers, students in educational research, science communicators and museums.
These training kits will include performance and participation-based education techniques designed to appeal to the human dimension of science. Explanations on how to adapt the kits to different European educational contexts will also be included.
The toolkits which will be tailored according to target audience will focus on developing a teachers communication skills and ability to create performances that improve science learning.
The project results, including the toolkits, will also be disseminated for use and replication through SCIENTIX, an EU network for sharing science teaching techniques. PERFORM aims to go further than simply increasing students knowledge of science however; reflective skills will be developed through exercises requiring students to consider the purpose and value of scientific research, and how this translates into real-life applications.