COMnPLAY-Science, Learning science the fun and creative way: coding, making, and play as vehicles for informal science learning in the 21st century


The COMnPLAY-Science project aims to help Europe to understand better the new ways in which informal science learning is taking place through various coding, making, and play activities that young Europeans are nowadays increasingly engaged with outside school and higher education science classrooms, beyond the formal boundaries of science education.

The project investigates a wide range of loci and modes of this kind of informal science learning, including: a) learning occurring in the context of such activities intentionally organized to achieve informal science learning; b) informal science learning that occurs as a by-product of youngsters’ various coding, making, and play activities that are not intentionally meant for science learning, and which may take place either in organized contexts or independently in everyday life. Carefully positioning the research within the context of the overarching contemporary discourses on STEM/STEAM education, RRI, and science capital, the proposed project aims to shed light on the nature and impact of the informal science learning gained through coding, making and play activities. It identifies diverse practices and looks deeper into a sample of them, whereby participants of real-life activities are surveyed, observed, and gamefully engaged in intensive research.

The project further explores the impact of this kind of informal science learning on: a) formal science education and more traditional informal science learning interventions; and b) scientific citizenship, investigating in particular the attitudes, values and dispositions that young people as learners and as citizens may develop through such activities towards science, scientists, and science-related information in everyday life. The project enables the exploitation of its research findings by developing relevant guidance for practitioners and recommendations for policymaking and further research, and through an overall extrovert project approach.

Basic information

Country: Austria, Finland, Germany, Greece, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom

Coordinator: Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway,

Programme: Horizon 2020

Project Acronym:

Target groups: general public, industry, policy makers, primary school students, researchers, secondary school students, teachers

Topic: Computer science, Engineering, Gender in STEM, Information technology, Maths, Technology, Education

Start year: 2018

End year: 2021


Contact person: Dimitris Grammenos, gramenos (at)

Carefully positioning the research within the context of the overarching contemporary discourses on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEAM) education, Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI), and science capital, the project’s main objectives are to:

  • Develop an appropriate conceptual and methodological framework integrating all aspects of the project into a unifying conceptual map.
  • Setup a European-wide community of stakeholders, including learners, educators, facilitators and policymakers from diverse fields, to contribute, guide and help to assess the conducted research.
  • Identify, pool and analyze diverse existing coding, making and play-based practices taking place outside formal science classrooms which bear some promise for non-formal and informal science learning.
  • Conduct in-depth learner-centered participatory empirical research on selected practices.
  • Gain a deep understanding of the impact that this kind of non-formal and informal science learning has on formal science education, traditional non-formal and informal science learning interventions, young people as learners and citizens, as well as, on society.
  • Communicate and disseminate the messages and outcomes of the project widely, and enable the exploitation of the findings of the research through the development of relevant guidance for practitioners and recommendations for policy development and further research.

The main results of the project include:

  • An online inventory of all the identified and pooled practices, appropriately categorized and annotated in the light of the findings of the research, available to stakeholders and general public.
  • A set of community building methods and tools for everyone wishing to get involved in community building linked to the project.
  • A Web-based game promoting and supporting the continuous prolonged engagement of learners and their facilitators in the field research.
  • The COMnPLAY-Science Knowledge Kit, a modular set of reader-friendly, practice-oriented publications, encapsulating the findings of the project.
  • The COMnPLAY-Science Roadmap for Europe, a detailed concerted account by the consortium, the stakeholder communities and policymakers of the potential for short-, medium- and long term impact of coding, making and play-based non-formal and informal science learning


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