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RDT info logoMagazine on European research Special issue - February 2007   

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Title  Bringing science out of the lab

Science is moving more rapidly than ever: one groundbreaking discovery follows the next. While schoolteachers have trouble keeping up with the latest research, many pupils call science lessons “boring”. In Spring 2006, EIROforum responded to this contradiction by launching Science in School, the first international, multi-disciplinary journal for innovative science teaching.

Science is becoming increasingly international and interdisciplinary,” says Eleanor Hayes, editor of the quarterly journal, based at EMBL. “Education systems may be national, but children across the world are curious about the same types of things. The most exciting development of the day may happen anywhere in any field: students may suddenly want to talk about a discovery on Mars, a medical breakthrough or a natural disaster.” For this reason, Science in School addresses science teaching not only across Europe, but also across disciplines.

Popular among science teachers, researchers and others involved in science education, Science in School covers the latest discoveries, teaching materials, interviews with teachers and scientists, reviews of resources, and more. Topics in the first three issues have included the chemistry of chocolate, the genetic aftermath of Chernobyl, Muslim contributions to Western science, how to build the DNA helix out of empty bottles and what teenagers really think about science.

“Scientists across Europe, including those in EIROforum labs, are continually making discoveries that they would be able and willing to explain to young people, but there was no central mechanism to help them do this,” says Bill Stirling, Director General of the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility.

Promoting communication between scientists and schools is a key goal of the journal. Recognising that the true experts are those who are doing the work, Science in School relies on two main groups of authors: the scientists doing the research and the teachers who use the materials. Experienced teachers review the articles, and provide tips on how to use the articles in the classroom.

The approach is working: readers in over 30 European countries have responded so enthusiastically that EIROforum is now printing 30 000 copies of Science in School, up from the initial 20 000. The print copies are in English, and are sent free of charge to science teachers across Europe. Although the English version is popular, the language of the classroom is usually the local language. The Science in School team are therefore working with scientists and teachers across Europe to put translated articles on the journal website. “The most frequent request from our readers has been for us to keep on publishing - and in as many languages as possible,” explains Eleanor Hayes. “Thanks to many volunteers, we already have articles online in sixteen European languages. But it’s an ongoing task, so if you’d like to help, we’d be happy to hear from you.”

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  “EIROforum has become a major player in European science”
  Bringing science out of the lab

  Science on Stage

How do we convey to young people the wonder of research and discovery? How do we ensure that in the future we have enough scientists and engineers...

  • www.science inschool.org

  • editor@science inschool.org

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      Science on Stage

    How do we convey to young people the wonder of research and discovery? How do we ensure that in the future we have enough scientists and engineers, increasingly needed by society? What resources can Europe deploy to reinforce science teaching in primary and secondary schools?

    These major questions will be discussed during the European festival Science on Stage (Science en Scène), which will take place in Grenoble from 2 to 6 April 2007. This event, organised by EIROforum and supported by the European Commission, is a unique opportunity for 500 science teachers from some thirty European countries to meet up and exchange ideas on best teaching practices.

    By combining entertaining and enjoyable approaches with indepth reflection, Science on Stage may be looked upon as a kind of laboratory, where the most original ideas coexist with the most demanding teaching experiments. Between the ‘forum’, where each person can explain their plans to their colleagues from other countries; and the training workshops, where teachers find classrooms for trying out new practices; all paths are possible and an interdisciplinary approach reigns. Teachers also have an opportunity to meet scientists working within the European institutes belonging to EIROforum.

    This programme stems from the first Physics on Stage organised at CERN in 2000. National committees have been set up in 29 countries. They form the basic structure of the Science on Stage programme, with the objective of making science teaching more attractive, capitalising on the natural curiosity of children and adolescents, and showing them that research is a fascinating activity that is constantly evolving. Their mission is also to ask, in a public forum, major questions regarding the future of education in Europe.

    On 5 April 2007, in Grenoble, science teachers will be able to discuss matters directly with decision-makers, during a round table on the subject of Challenges to Europe: European science education in the future, chaired by the European Commissioner for Science and Research, Janez Potočnik.