€2.5 million grant to boost science in European schools
Irresistible seeks to promote science among secondary school students by initiating ‘communities of learners’. Schoolteachers, educational professionals, science experts and science centre employees will work together to produce learning materials that teachers can use in their own schools.
‘The students will make things that will first be exhibited in their schools and then later at the Faculty of Science’, says Jan Apotheker, who masterminded the project.
Teaching students about science isn’t the only aim of Irresistible, though. It’s also very important to acquaint them with the impact of science on society. ‘Science can play an important role in solving problems in society’, Apotheker stresses. ‘However, it can also cause problems. Think of the chemicals used in the Syrian war, or nanotechnology. We want students to be aware of this. Science isn’t something that’s purely theoretical.’
He hopes the project will also have an impact on the scientists taking part in it, so that they too think about the role they play in society.
The project will begin with five schools from each participating country and every teacher will train five new teachers. ‘This way the outreach doubles every year.’ Learning materials can be exchanged to increase the impact.
The project should be completed by 2016. By then, Apotheker hopes, the best school exhibits can be assembled in an exhibition that can travel round Europe. ‘You’d be surprised what children can make if you allow them to be creative. At an exhibit in Groningen one student came up with a model of the ethanol molecule. He made it entirely out of Breezer cans.’
Irresistible was officially launched this week with a symposium. ‘We’re extremely pleased’, says Apotheker. ‘It puts ScienceLinx on the map inside and outside the University. It means we’ll be taken more seriously and that is important of course.’