STIM, Schools Tune Into Mars

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The overall objective of the Schools Tune Into Mars (STIM) project is to provide pedagogical materials with high-quality inspirational lessons related to planetology. The project’s materials are based on the latest developments in space research and pedagogy and meet teachers’ needs for opportunities in professional development, making use of particular scientific concepts in planetology and planetary seismology.

Schools Tune Into Mars (STIM) is a project that brings together a network of schools and organisations with an interest in space education and studies related to the planet Mars. Thus, STIM provides adequate guidance and underpins innovative activities that are developed in a co-constructive process between researchers and teachers.

Several complementary blocks of activities are developed as part of the STIM project, including:

  • A study on the results of various space missions and their integration in lessons in the fields of STEM, supported by an evaluation of successful models at the European level.
  • A pedagogical guide to support the use of resources from space missions in classrooms.
  • A Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) entitled “bring Mars missions into the classroom” which provides online training to teachers in order to use innovative teaching materials related to Mars space missions in classrooms.
  • Recommendations for the creation of a Mars-Edu network to set the scene for an innovative and long-term collaborative network on space education related to Mars missions.

Basic information

Country: Romania, Spain

Coordinator: Lycée International de Valbonne, France, http://www.civfrance.com/lycee/presentation-du-lycee

Programme: Erasmus+

Project Acronym:

Target groups: researchers, secondary school students, teachers, university students

Topic: Astronomy, Engineering, Gender in STEM, Geology, Geophysics, Materials science, Maths, Physics, Technology

Start year: 2018

End year: 2021

Url: https://ec.europa.eu/programmes/erasmus-plus/projects/eplus-project-details/#project/2018-1-FR01-KA201-047878

Contact person: Fatima Moujdi-Menauge, Email Fatima.Moujdi (at) ac-nice.fr

International assessments, including the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), showed poor results in students’ performance and achievement in science disciplines in most countries within the European Union in 2015. Moreover, the PISA study showed that the European Union as a whole had in fact taken a step backwards in both science and mathematics in secondary education compared to 2012.

The overall objective of the Schools Tune Into Mars (STIM) project is to improve effective and quality teaching of subjects in STEM in secondary education and to increase STEM knowledge, skills and interest among young Europeans. In this regard, the STIM partnership focuses on the development of transversal competences and strengthening networks of science-connected teachers and different actors who are working in intermediary roles across existing initiatives in the school-science community, in order to exchange teaching practices related to the space mission InSIGHT, “Discover the inner structure of Mars to better understand Planet Earth”. InSIGHT’s discoveries provide new information about Planet Earth and, in fact, the future of the Earth is strongly linked to the Red Planet, as both of them are telluric planets. Thus, the Red Planet is definitely a special one that teases people’s curiosity.

More particularly, the STIM project addresses the following points:

  1. School education challenges in secondary STEM education – by contributing to the issue of underachievement in mathematics and sciences, improving skills and competences in STEM areas, which in turn affect the interest of students in STEM studies, and promote the acquisition of skills and competences.
  2. The development of high-quality skills and competences, not only among younger generations, but also by offering open-access teacher training to teachers all across Europe and beyond.
  3. Peer-to-peer exchange, by developing a transnational network that facilitates peer-to-peer learning activities and the exchange of knowledge and innovative practices for STEM education in secondary education.

The partners of the STIM project chose a topic that has always fascinated mankind, namely the discovery of planet Mars, by following closely the ongoing Mars InSIGHT space mission. In fact, InSIGHT Mars is the first outer-space robotic explorer designed to study in depth the "inner space" of planet Mars.

Teachers who participate in the STIM project benefit from a brand-new data collection coming from Mars. Meanwhile, researchers and teachers analyse seismological data from the planet. This is also the very first time that data and recordings from such a scientific mission are shared among school pupils and scientists. Moreover, space sciences are not confined to one science discipline but also facilitate interdisciplinary learning approaches, incorporating mathematics, physics, geophysics and technology. For this reason, the STIM project’s partners work with many different teachers who bring their professional skills on board. A MOOC is also developed as part of the project.

Additionally, online resources provide information to teachers, to help them and give them scientific information in relation to planetary seismology and comparative planetology. Teachers can find some online hands-on activities and videos to improve their knowledge and support their teaching activities.

Teachers also benefit from a pedagogical guide that explains how they can do experiments with their students in their classroom. All the pedagogical materials are disseminated all over Europe and in other countries that collaborate with the NASA InSIGHT mission, including the United States of America. Those activities and the results provide the basis for recommendations for teachers and organisations in the fields of STEM that contribute to the development of an innovative network on Mars education. Due to large differences in European countries in the development of STEM education, this project has brought together leading institutions in STEM education, researchers and practitioners, as well as teacher networks, to substantially raise awareness and training on the subject.

 

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