The Youth Manifesto
There was a strong youth component to the London Conference where students participated in a separate series of sessions parallel to the actual conference. Student groups attending the conference included students part of BSA’s Youth Forum, members of the Young Scientists Journal, CREST alumni, and students from international schools that participated in MARCH pilots and workshops.
Students received training from the Young Scientists Journal who introduced the type of research articles they review and how to write an effective blog, with the goal that upon returning to their countries and schools, students at the conference would share their own experiences in the form of a blog (see students' blog posts). The group then heard from speakers who presented during the main conference and discussed how to make each best practice relevant to student learning.
The discussion included what they value in STEM education, what should be improved in the classroom, what should stay the same, how they learn best, what attracted them to STEM, and what would appeal to their peers and friends who may not be science-oriented. A few major themes that emerged from this session were: wanting more flexibility built into the curriculum, ability and freedom to do more independent research outside the classroom, value of actual teaching vs. relying merely on technology, relying less on standardised tests for student assessment, and designing syllabus based on what students want to learn.
Overall the students generated 15-20 ideas in small groups and selected the top five as a whole group to include in their manifesto of recommendations. The top five list of recommendations included:
1. The curriculum should encourage more open book tests.
2. Schools should forge links with other educational bodies so resources are shared between everyone.
3. Schools should integrate more project work into teaching with focus on creativity.
4. Government and NGOs should encourage more international exchanges so we can learn from each other.
5. The curriculum should focus more on industry, academia and student interests to prepare students for the real world.
Per the five recommendations, the takeaway message from the youth manifesto was that there needs to be an integrated approach to teaching science and making it an attractive and more approachable subject for students. Everyone strongly agreed that if we want the future state of science education to be more interdisciplinary utilising varied techniques, there needs to be a paradigm shift. The students also were keen to express their interest in learning from each other and their peers in other countries which was a prevalent topic throughout the day for the youth.
More information about the conference and the youth manifesto can be found here (pdf).