EPALE ambassadors Jackie Howie and Alison Mclachlan from Learning Link Scotland have been successfully funded through Erasmus + to develop and deliver a STEM engagement with adult learning project. This project will develop relationships with key creative and scientific centres in Netherlands, Denmark and Ireland. We are currently planning trips to chosen sites and will organise sharing sessions with our hosts to discuss practice and methods.
The Scottish participants of the project will disseminate findings from trips via a variety of methods when they return, including presenting research findings at an event hosted by Glasgow Science Centre and also writing blogs, social media, workshops and writing training materials. Scotland will offer to host return visits with guided trips to a variety of sites.
The project is founded on the development of key competencies and skills of staff and learners. The knowledge, understanding and skills that the practitioners gain on the project will be utilised back home in Scotland to improve their teaching practice and improve the competencies of learners. They will also share their new knowledge with local and national networks as well as contributing to the international Community of Practice for STEM educators supported on EPALE.
There is a need in Scotland for adult educators to engage in STEM education, as identified in the STEM Strategy. Learning Link Scotland conducted a national survey and a focus group for adult educators in Scotland asking them about their confidence in delivering STEM subjects. The consultations found that the confidence of practitioners to deliver STEM topics is low and the following areas were suggested as ways to help:
- Help from a science expert
- Help from an adult educator who may not be a science expert but who has worked in science education
- Assistance in recruiting learners to study science
- Understanding what and how science is taught in schools
- Understanding how to engage adults in science subjects
- Resources designed to use with adults
This project, designed with the aim of improving practitioners confidence in engaging others in STEM, can help work towards meeting the needs.
The goals of the project are for practitioners to express increased confidence in their ability to deliver STEM subjects and for the development of an international network of STEM practitioners on EPALE - already in progress in communities of practice science and environment themed group. The group invites others to take part in discussions, please use this link to request subscription to the community of practice.
Practitioner researchers from Scotland will visit 3 European science/cultural space destinations. We are planning these to be in Dublin, Copenhagen and Amsterdam.
During the visits the practitioners will meet host practitioners and share information on engaging adults in STEM learning.
The practitioners will keep a reflective journal of their visit and share their experiences with the community of practice on EPALE.
Key areas of improvement as a result of this project would be an increase in confidence of practitioners to engage adults in STEM learning and subsequently an increase in the numbers of adults accessing STEM learning.
UPDATE Jan. 2020 : Practitioner researchers from Learning Link Scotland, Glasgow Science Centre and Education Scotland have just returned from Dublin where they visited the Dublin Science Gallery Plastics exhibition and Cool Planet Experience at Powerscourt in Wicklow. Both resources were truly engaging and thought provoking, focussing on causes and consequences of human impact on our planet and also the actions we can take to reduce this impact. We had the opportunity to discuss methods of engagement / barriers to engagement / future developments with the CEO at Cool Planet Experience which will be highlighted in our dissemination. Next visit Experimentarium in Denmark.
Alison Mclachlan is an EPALE UK Ambassador and works as a freelance learning practitioner, currently working in partnership with Glasgow Science Centre (delivering STEM courses for adult learners), the University of West of Scotland (delivering community placement lectures and developing community music placements for students), Clyde College Glasgow (delivering STEM in the community courses and STEM workshops for practitioners) and Knightswood Secondary School (STEM for parents). She is an associate with Learning Link Scotland and an EPALE ambassador.
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