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An inspiring conference for the majority of science educators

Alexandra Okada, Thursday 16 March 2017

The ENGAGE project conference, at the Open University on March 11th, was a unique event designed to launch a community of innovative science teachers.  Funded by the European Commission (EC), this event brought together more than 80 Science teachers from right across England, as well as Russia and Brazil.

The conference themes were chosen by the teachers themselves, who presented their innovative classroom practice on curriculum, assessment and teaching methods. “Overall the event was excellent, inspiring and very informative. I enjoyed presenting. I would be happy to present again next year. I enjoyed networking with colleagues from around the country.” Rowan Mangier, Science Teacher.  “Teachers were so very grateful to have the opportunity to discuss ideas and strategies with other teachers and hear solutions to the problems they are encountering” Jude Sanders, facilitator.

Ale Okada the legacy and technical coordinator of ENGAGE, opened the conference with the key outcomes of this European project: an open science education portal, including OER and MOOC in 10 languages for equipping students to make decisions using science; a relevant framework to foster 10 inquiry skills for Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI); and an international community of science teachers with 18,043 members interested in topical science. 

She highlighted that RRI is one of the key areas created by the EC for promoting science with and for society. "This is exactly our aim: to empower students supported by teachers to take an active role and voice their informed views and concerns on socio-scientific issues that are relevant for their lives and society.”

The keynotes Tony Sherborne, scientific leader of ENGAGE  and Stella Paes, Head of science at AQA presented important questions and reflections on Science Education:   "How can the Science Education curriculum be reshaped so that it’s more fit for purpose?" and    "How can an approach focussed on examination success still lead to an enlightened science education?"

The workshops on 5 year plan and assessment  including ENGAGE resources –were also considered very thougthful  for several teachers who mentioned that  there was a sense of relief that they could finally see ‘proof’ that their hunch that there was just not enough teaching time was a valid criticism to take to senior leadership . There was too much content to teach across the 5 years so teachers should focus on teaching the core well rather than covering everything badly.

“ENGAGE project is very relevant to attract teachers and students across the world. Its content and strategies are very relevant for secondary schools and it should be also extended to primary education” Marianne Cuttler - the head of Association for Science Education in the UK.  “It was very useful to talk to teachers in the UK  to know how they used ENGAGE.  Our students in Bahia were really engaged with topical socio-scientific dilemmas including innovative resources to develop scientific argumentation”. Ana Karine Rocha, Sonia Pinto and Silvar Ribeiro -  Teachers  from Salvador Brazil.

 “I came away from the conference very proud of the work we have done over the years! It was great to meet so many teachers who like what we do and want more.” Gemma Young  ENGAGE resources developer and KMi research visitor.

Indeed, it is really significant for us to see the impact of ENGAGE in the UK and across the world.

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