The 3rd and final International Education Conference, titled "STEM across Europe: making it real", was held on Tuesday 15 November at Burlington House, The Geographical Society in London. It brought together the MARCH consortium partners and over 150 participants from professional educational bodies, schools and universities, research institutions, and STEM organisations to look to the future of STEM education and address how to make science real for students in school.
The event was organised by the British Council and the British Science Association, and featured women in the sciences and achieved a gender balance with respect to delegates and speakers. It included keynote address from Professor Louise Archer, Kings College London, of the ASPIRES project, as well as discussion sessions on ‘best practices’ both inside and out of the classroom, a panel debate on the future of science education and a chance to interact with experts in education from around the world. A youth panel of students also fed their ideas into the conference and presented their own ‘Manifesto’.
The plenary sessions (video 1, video 2) and concurrent breakout sessions allowed attendees to contribute to a robust discussion on a number of topics specific to "making science real". The overall objective of the conference was to present the current state of STEM education in Europe, discuss specific case studies and examples, and reflect on best practices related to the six major themes identified by the nine institutional partners part of the MARCH network as being key to science education. The six best practice themes include:
1. Mixing Science and the Arts
2. Learning Outside the Classroom
3. Hands-on Learning
4. Using ICT
5. Creating New Media
6. Interacting with Researchers
Throughout the conference, participants commented on how they valued the opportunity to network, learn from each other, develop new partnerships, build on existing ones, and how to leverage these partnerships to expand opportunities in STEM education. Participants came to the conference with different goals and motivations, some just getting started on developing programmes, some looking to grow their programme portfolio, and others looking for concrete benchmarking and assessment tools.
The conference ended with an evening event, the STEM ‘Edu-Showcase’, which was held on the River Thames at the Tattershall Castle river-boat. The evening aimed to celebrate the achievements of the MARCH project, with exhibitors showcasing their organisations, short speeches from the consortium members, poster boards and a video montage highlighting key milestones from the 3-year MARCH project. It was a great opportunity to meet teachers, activity providers, STEM Ambassadors and those supporting STEM subjects in schools and colleges, and a chance to discover other exciting developments in the field of STEM education.
You can download and read the full report from the event (pdf), take a look at the programme in detail (pdf), download the keynote presetation (pdf), and watch videos from the morning and afternoon plenary sessions. A link to a Storify, which contains the highlights of the day can be found here: https://storify.com/BritSciAssoc/stem-across-europe-making-it-real