Lifelong Learning Programme With the support of the Lifelong Learning Programme of the European Union

Ιnnovation Swap Workshop in Bulgaria

On the 6th October 2015, the British Council Bulgaria and Forum Democrit organised the third international “Innovation Swap Workshop” in Sofia, Bulgaria. The event brought 53 participants together – students and teachers from Bulgaria, Greece, and Serbia, as well as researchers, education experts, and project partners

The workshop focused on good Bulgarian, Greek, and Serbian innovative practices in STEM education, and was divided into three (3) sessions:

  • 1st session: Presentations of good educational practices by teachers from Bulgaria, Greece, and Serbia;
  • 2nd session: MARCH World Café – interactive round tables with the participants;
  • 3rd session: Discussion on formal and informal STEM practices.

Some comments and conclusions from the discussions:

From the students’ perspective:

  • A lot of information is given to students in the schools, but in a boring way;
  • Students are more interested in the practical application of science in their everyday life and less interested on remembering facts and figures;
  • Students prefer to combine the theoretical knowledge with more practical experiments;
  • It will be beneficial for the students to be mentored and get first-hand knowledge by experienced researchers and teachers in particular scientific areas they are interested in;
  • Students expect from teachers and researchers to guide them through the ocean of information and to show them the part of it that will relate to their future life and skills development;
  • The students need to be more engaged when identifying the curricula adequate to their needs of practical knowledge;
  • If some more innovative science education approaches are introduced in schools science will become more attractive to students;
  • The pupils are more active users of social media and free internet resources than their teachers. Students shared some interesting experiments they’ve watched on YouTube, which can be easily conducted at school;
  • The students need to be better directed to the real scientific problems, which have an impact on today’s society.

From the teacher’s perspective:

  • “The curricula are universally defined but not universally sufficient”;
  • One of the main problems with the out of school activities is that the teachers need to fit them in the curriculum, which does not envisage enough outdoor activities;
  • Teachers are expected by the ministries to follow the curricula and it is hard for them to respond to a particular real-life scientific problem brought to the classroom by their students;
  • One of the main challenges in promoting extracurricular activities is to find a proper way to motivate the teachers despite the bureaucratic, financial and other obstacles they are facing;
  • A critical mass of teachers struggling for curricula changes is needed in order to catch up with the other EU countries, where the curricula are more flexible and provide more opportunities for innovative approaches and out of school activities;
  • Interdisciplinarity is crucial in nowadays society, so the curricula need to be changed and shaped in a way to better promote it;
  • More science workshops, festivals and other kinds of events need to be organized, involving scientists, researchers, teachers, and students. Both teachers and students learn something new while visiting science festivals;
  • Organising schools for science communication is a good practice to prepare scientists to present their work during participation in science events;
  • Teachers should not try to avoid mistakes in the classroom by all means. Teachers should encourage both themselves and students to learn from mistakes;
  • Teachers need more flexibility and more opportunities to be involved in the development of science education projects;
  • Teachers need to make students think and be attentive to detail, to identify their own goals and problems;
  • It will be helpful to better encourage mutual learning between schools from different locations, as they can be tackling different scientific problems that reflect on their communities at the local level;
  • Schools need to improve science education in order to provide useful service to the society by better preparing the school kids for their adult life, to be responsible community members and citizens of their countries. Students should be more aware of what the problems in their local and global society are;
  • Teachers should focus on the development of students’ skills in order to be able to shape the way students are thinking. Students need to get more familiar with the scientific methods, to be able to analyze and deal with facts. The teachers should be more focused on teaching the science logic to their students;
  • Social and digital media shape to an extent what students will value, so they should be used wisely to promote science and values we would like the next generations to appreciate.

For further information about the workshop, you can download the full report (pdf). You can also take a look at the workshop’s programme (pdf), the pictures and the short videos taken during the event.

Lifelong Learning Programme MARCH (MAking science Real in SCHools) project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
British Council British Science Association Forum Demokrit Jungvornweg Science on Society Education Development Centre Ciencia Viva Center for the Promotion of Science Educational Radio-Television Directorate, Greek Ministry of Education