Update on the activities of the Working Group 2 Public Engagement and Science Education

A brief overview of what our WG2 members have been up to in the previous period and the future plans.

Aug 30, 2022

The activities of the Action Plan were diligently implemented by the members of the Working Group 2 focusing on Public Engagement and Science Education since its establishment.

The members have co-created several actions to “Understand the State-of-Play”. The WG started the development of a survey concerning the students and parents’ perceptions of STEM/STEAM education possibilities and the gender balance needs in IT education and IT professions. From October 2022, meetings with teachers and parents will be organised on the topic of motivating students to enroll in STEM vs STEAM, and achieving gender balance. Additionally, researchers and non-researchers will be involved to contribute to a webinar roundtable for developing exact future activities for engaging public in RRI, with the purpose of increasing interest in STEM and STEAM education, motivating gender balance, and raising awareness for action in environmental issues. Another concrete action is the “Science to school initiative”, which aims to increase interest for science among students in primary and secondary schools. This action includes competitions for high school students in which the students have an opportunity to provide innovative technical solutions for today’s challenges.

Several meetings allowed “Exchanging Experiences” and discussing good practices that have been proven to be useful, their transferability, as well as potential problems and difficulties that should be avoided. In March 2022, the Science and Technology Park Montenegro has supported a competition called “Infinite Loop”, where networking between science and education was greatly encouraged. With intention to establish further cooperation, the future engagement of young people with innovative scientific ideas that are in the process of realization was addressed during meetings with the University of Montenegro, in particular with the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Faculty of Electrical Engineering. In order to also communicate such activities, blog posts and social media were actively used. Furthermore, the plans to organise a workshop within the Tirana Architecture Weeks 2022 in October entitled “RRI going high – Piloting citizen science and other RRI practices in ecosystems in Albania” have already started, where citizen science will be promoted with students of environmental, planning and architecture studies by simulating the two roles of the process. In another event happening in October, the Western Balkan Conference on GIS, Mine Surveying, Geodesy and Geomatics that will be bringing together researchers and practitioners, one of the topics will be RRI, consequently starting the discussions on how to best integrate this topic in the conference.

When it comes to the objective of “Raising Awareness”, the WG members promoted links between science and education and developed tools for more effective communication skills. Science and Education have been indeed promoted in a series of activities in Montenegro, such as study and knowledge transfer visits to the Zagreb Science and Technology Park (ZICER) and Biocenter, as well as participation in the “European Projects Fair” held in Podgorica in May 2022. Our members from Serbia intend to promote our project and its activities, as well as the RRI principles, during the upcoming European Researcher Nights.

Members of the working group are currently also engaged in developing a policy brief on inclusive co-creation and stakeholder engagement “Proposing new ways of doing things” to develop concrete suggestions and policy recommendations addressing the Quadruple Helix stakeholders. Further briefs with focus on public engagement and science education are also planned in the near future.

For further questions feel free to get in touch with the group via wbc-rri@zsi.at. To join us, fill out our survey.