The Science Capital Teaching Approach: Engaging Students with Science, Promoting Social Justice

Source / author: 
UCL Institute of Education
United Kingdom

To help more—and more diverse—students engage with science, the science capital teaching approach builds on good teaching practice. Its key distinction is an explicit focus on recognising and valuing students’ existing science capital, whilst also helping them to build new science capital.


The approach works within any science curriculum. It is not a new set of materials and it does not mean a dilution of science ideas and concepts. Instead, it is a reflective framework that involves making small tweaks to existing practice so as to re-orientate science lessons in ways that can better connect with the reality of students’ lives and experiences.


The concept of science capital is a way of encapsulating all the science-related knowledge, attitudes, experiences and social contacts that an individual may have.



"Rocket 69“ is an educational scientific entertaining TV contest for young people to show that STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) can be fun and I can do it, while offering excitement and new knowledge. The name of the show comes from the fact that on 1969 the first man stepped on the Moon.


All students starting from age 15 until university students from 1st or 2nd year of studies can apply for the show. 15 contestants are chosen through casting and the casting process makes up the 1st episode of the show.


Contestants solve the assignments in groups and from 10th episode also individually. In the end of each episode one contestant has to leave after 1:1 scientific duel. All assignments demand creativity, theoretical scientific knowledge and ability to use it in practices.


In the Grand Finale 2 finalists have to solve complex assignment that will show all their abilities. There is 1 personal winner who wins the 10 000€ scholarship to support his/her studies.


The Judging panel consists of Host of the show (young scientist) and 3 main judges who are also researchers.


Locations. 9 episodes are shot in a studio built for the show. Starting from 10th episode the locations vary – different science labs and research organizations, companies etc. For the Grand Finale studio will be built up again.


Production consists of 2 teams: TV Production Team and Science Editor Team. Science Editor and its team consist of mainly young scientists design the assignments. Together with the TV production team they prepare the assignments, to have both the scientific content and the visual attractiveness joined in the action.


All assignments and solutions are explained with voice-over, by graphical illustrations during the show and also commented by judges. In addition the Science Editor creates deeper explanations in web for each assignment that can be used as STEM teaching material at school. The show is supported by cross-media approach – radio, newspapers, web, Facebook and other social media channels.


The format of the Rocket69 has been developed in the framework of the TeaMe programme of the Estonian Research Council with co-financing from the European Social Fund, European Regional Fund and the Estonian state.

Estonian Research Council

It is difficult to measure the direct impact of TV-show, but we can see the signs in the society that it has had an impact.


At school we can see that the Assignments from TV-episodes are directly used in STEM classes or teachers get ideas for creating their own team-assignments for the classes (we do have up to 45 assignments in stock per season). Rocket69-format has become a teaching method. Rocket69 roadshows go to schools involving former participants and judges (reseachers) and Rocket69 participants have become real stars in real life.


And also in society – young children who are not yet in the age of entering Rocket69 keep asking will there still be the show when I grow up and tell their parents to organise their birthday parties in Rocket69 style. Last year there were these 2 random leads in our daily newspapares talking about the finals of Season 7: 


„It’s a very unusual show at Estonian TV landscape: they do not show psychics telling you how to find your happiness or famous people making fools of themselves. Instead you really learn something new each episode, while also getting entertained. Very rare in our media!“


„Rocket69 is exiting! The final of the Season 7 was like duel of cross-country skiers Thomas Wassberg and Juha Mieto at Lake Placid Olympics on 1980!“


The reach is very different on different Seasons (8th will start in January 2018). We could say that the average reach per episode through the Seasons has been 80-100 000 inlcuding children under 12 who are not part of the media-monitoring system.

Budget and funding model: 

The show is currently mainly funded from European Structural funds and in addition by local companies and univeristies.

ROSE (Relevance of Science Education)

Source / author: 
University of Oslo

ROSE, The Relevance of Science Education, is an international comparative project meant to shed light on affective factors of importance to the learning of science and technology. Key international research institutions and individuals work jointly on the development of theoretical perspectives, research instruments, data collection and analysis.


The target population is students towards the end of secondary school (age 15). The research instrument is a questionnaire mostly consisting of closed questions with four-point Likert scales. The rationale behind the project, including the questionnaire development, theoretical background, procedures for data collection, etc. is described in a publication available in pdf or print format:

Engineering solutions are no silver bullet, but there is no sustainable future without them

Source / author: 

Education has long been acknowledged as the cornerstone of Europe’s success. With the challenges ahead, it will become even more important in determining the future of Europe’s prosperity and role in the world. Competency in mathematics, science and technology (MST) is becoming more and more fundamental as strategic enabler for a sustainable, innovative and competitive Europe. Yet shortages in these disciplines are already imminent, calling for measures to substantially curbing this downward trend in enrolment in technical studies and restore the health of the European Talent Pipeline.

The Fork in the Road Towards Gender Equality

pbt's picture
Source / author: 

Gender biases can be persistent. Too persistent. A simple exercise to illustrate the point: Picture a doctor or a professor. You will most likely think of a man. Now think of nurses and teachers and you are likely to imagine a woman. This unconscious gender bias is rooted in years of associating male and female attributes to specific roles in society. Inevitably, it also influences students’ career choices.


Gender differences in career aspirations are set early on. Children tend to mimic the social environment in which they grew up: boys are more drawn towards male-dominated fields while girls aspire to careers held by inspirational role models of their own gender. By the age of 15, boys and girls have already been regularly exposed to one of the most strongly gender-biased professions: teaching. On average across OECD countries, 83% of primary teachers are women; and this proportion shows no sign of shrinking anytime soon. 


Careers in science show the opposite trend. Data from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) show that even if boys and girls have similar scores in science, girls are less likely than boys to envision themselves in a science-related career when they are 30. This demonstrates that aspirations to pursue a career in science are not necessarily determined by students’ aptitude in these fields.


Data on fields of study released in Education at a Glance 2017 and analysed in a new Education Indicators in Focus confirm that the gender disparities observed in career aspirations in the PISA study are alive and well in tertiary education too. Three out of four students entering the field of education are women; but only one out of four entering the field of engineering, manufacturing and construction is female. Moreover, the share of women entering a programme in engineering, manufacturing and construction is even smaller than the share of 15-year-old girls who aspire to work in science and engineering, showing the effect of social norms over just a few years, and their impact on all-important career decisions. 

Why Europe's girls aren't studying STEM

Source / author: 

Most girls become interested in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) in school at the age of 11-1/2, but that interest starts to wane by the age of 15, according to newly released research by Microsoft.


Microsoft asked 11,500 girls and women between the ages of 11 and 30 in a dozen countries across Europe about their attitudes toward STEM.


Among the findings:


  • Girls cited a lack of female role models in STEM as a key reason they didn’t follow a career in the sector.
  • Young women are not getting enough practical, hands-on experience with STEM subjects.
  • Just 42 percent said they would consider a STEM-related career in the future.
  • 60 percent admitted they would feel more confident pursuing a career in STEM fields if they knew men and women were equally employed in those professions.


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