The first General Assembly meeting of 2019 took place in Heraklion, Greece. The meeting was co-hosted by the Foundation for Research and Technology Hellas (FORTH).
The meeting was focussed on the link between research and STE(A)M education practices. As usual, the meeting programme was divided into two parts. The first part focused on the host-country (Greece) and was titled: "Towards a Greek STEM platform". In this part of the meeting several key-stakeholders from the fields of government, education and industry shared their views on STEM in Greece and the need for a more integrated approach.
The second part focused on the EU in general and included presentations of experts from several EU Member States as well as discussion sessions.
The meeting marked the finalisation of the ongoing Erasmus+ project. Therefore some attention was also given to the project results and the upcoming planning period.
Part 1: "Towards a Greek STEM platform"
After the welcome and opening remarks by Dr. Katerina Kikis-Papadakis of FORTH and a brief introduction by Geert Asselbergs of the EU STEM Coalition the opening presentation was given by prof. Charalambos Makridakis, member of the Board of Directors of FORTH. The presentation outlined the history and development of FORTH and its different institutes in one of the largest research organisations in Greece with a strong international track record. The presentation also highlighted FORTH’s role and position in the innovation ecosystem of Crete.
The second presentation was given by Dr. Michael Katharakis of the Regional Council for Research and Innovation. The presentation was titled: "Enhancing Entrepreneurial competencies in the Region of Crete: Policy Orientation and Actions and focussed on the private sector. The presentation highlighted the large differences between the Greek regions in terms of innovation capacity (as measured by Eurostat's 2019 Regional Innovation Scoreboard), with the being the only Greek region categorises as a "strong" performer in this index. Another key focus of the presentation was the role of private businesses in the 'quadrouple helix' model implemented by the regional government of Crete.
The third presentation in this segment was given by Prof. Sarantos Psycharis of the School of Pedagogical and Technical Education (University of Athens). This presentation zoomed in on the evolution of the STEM-concept and its various definitions and approaches with specific focus on computational thinking and computer science.
The first segment of the programme was closed with a tour of FORTH"s Ambient Intelligence Programme (AMI) facility and a networking lunch.
Part 2: "Research in STE(A)M education practices
The second part of the meeting was focussed on the link between research and STE(A)M education practices implemented by the STEM platforms. This segment kicked off with a panel discussion session around six key-topics. Each topic was derived from the results of a questionnaire (included on the slides) among twelve leading national STEM platforms in the EU STEM Coalition. This questionnaire mapped the use of research and scientific models in large-scale STE(A)M education programmes, impact assessment-methods and the usage of the outcomes of EU-funded projects. In addition, some of the topics were derived from a concept-position paper prepared for this meeting. The feedback collected during the discussion sessions will be included in the final version of the position paper and presented to the European Commission.
After a short break the meeting continued with a presentation by Ms. Ascension Vizinho-County of MathWorks (producer of MatLab and Simulink modelling software used by companies like Airbus and ASML). The presentation focussed on the use of industrial-grade modelling- and simulation tools in the classroom using the French STEM Olympiads science competition as a case study. The presentation lead into a discussion round focussed on two key questions:
The presentation was followed by a presentation by Dr. Elpida Makrygianni of University College London (UCL) on UCL's 50-50 Engineering Engagement Strategy in the United Kingdom. The 50-50 Engineering Engagement Strategy represents a rethinking of the strategies usually employed to increase STEM uptake, in particular in regard to inclusion (girls, minorities), experimental learning and actions focussed on primary education and teacher development.
The last part of this segment consisted of two short presentations of ongoing projects of EU STEM Coalition members, including the Science on Stage "Coding in STEM Education" (lesson material) and the "European Code League" (student-teacher competition) and an upcoming event by the RE Foundation (supported by the Bulgarian ministry of education). The meeting was closed with the closing remarks of Beatrice Boots, director of the Dutch national STEM platform and Dr. Katerina Kikis-Papadakis on behalf of FORTH.