The science-gathering bees

Launched in 2006 in 12 EU “seed cities”, the Pollen project is promoting science education in primary schools. By adopting an approach tailored to the local reality, it aims to stimulate pupils, teachers and local actors in a given territory. The demonstrated best practices will then be disseminated.

Pollen logo
The 12 Pollen seed cities The 12 Pollen “seed cities”

The Pollen logo shows a nectar-gathering bee, flying from school to school, from town to town. This sums up the project’s whole educational philosophy, one of “pollination of science” by transmitting experimental educational approaches between the various schools and local communities. The shared aim is to give young children a taste for science and awaken their curiosity through an approach based on inquiry and observation. On the basis of simple themes like Where does bread come from? or Time and meteorology, Pollen encourages children to think about the world around them by developing their aptitude for problem-solving as well as their command of language and their creativity.

The cities mobilise

The project is being implemented in 12 so-called “seed cities” that share the same desire to mobilise a maximum of forces to promote science education. The dynamism of each pilot project is based on a soundly structured plan that creates a bridge between schools, teachers and the local community (families, associations, scientific and industrial partners, municipalities, museums and cultural centres). In addition to this cooperation, the cities also choose partners of national reputation that possess an expertise and a legitimacy in the scientific field. ‘In the French town of Saint-Etienne, for example, it is the Mining School, which trains engineers, that regularly sends students to assist the teachers,’ explains David Jasmin, European coordinator of the Pollen project. ‘This support is much appreciated by the teachers who generally have no training in the applied sciences.’

12 local models

Each town has a distinct social and educative reality for which specific goals have been identified. In the cities of southern Europe, which are often very culturally mixed, parameters such as the family or immigration are an inherent part of the plan. In northern Europe, which is generally more experienced in teaching sciences, the focus is on sometimes more specific approaches, such as the use of ICTs in the classroom in Amsterdam (NL) or an interdisciplinary approach to sciences in Leicester (UK). David Jasmin sees this variable geometry as one of the characteristic features of Pollen: ‘While bringing a particular approach to education, one that tends to redefine the role of the teacher, it is also very important to respect the culture and school system of each country.’

At the end of the project, each Pollen member city will help draw up a charter of “science seed cities” that will be widely circulated with the aim of transferring the lessons learned in the project. Over three years, 100 schools, 500 classes and 15 000 children are to be progressively involved. The pollination of science will then be an expanding educative strategy.