final project report

summary of the project

project context: The trigger for the project was the idea that in our fast-moving time, social life will change dramatically over the next few decades as globalization and digitization change at a fast pace and the labor market have to adapt to these developments. Following these considerations, it has become clear that the support, especially of the STEM subjects in higher secondary schools is a central task of education. Talented and interested students have to be able to discover and develop their skills both in the classroom as well as in the complementary area of ​​a school, in order to retain their place in the complex, technologically world of work. An analysis of the initial situation showed that the number of high school students who are pursuing a mathematical or scientific education, does not meet the expectations and needs of (local) companies to young talents. As a result, a need for optimization was formulated, which should not only be addressed at school and national level, it should also include the widest possible range of ideas and concepts to increase efficiency.

project goals: Promoting STEM subjects in higher secondary schools to help talented and interested students to gain access to a complex, technologically work environment.

participants: The four partner schools were searched in other European countries, whereby existing contacts, as well as similarities of interests in the choice were taken into account.

activities: Mutual visits to the goal of the exchange and transfer of best practice examples of school profiles and activities in the field of STEM. Results and effects:

In addition to the practical benefits of adopting ideas on courses and designing STEM modules, the whole range of approaches adopted by the five different European countries became clear. Through these comparisons, the curricula of the schools could be optimized and expanded and through that a quality improvement in general, as well as in the lessons can be achieved. The communication between all involved led to a greater understanding of national circumstances and cultural differences, which in some cases resulted in friendships that continued beyond the project. As a welcome side effect, the use of the English language for communication has improved the language skills of all involved. Through the development of competencies and opportunities, school leaders, teachers, students and school partners benefited from the project.

summary of the partners

Wieland-Gymnasium Biberach
Adenauerallee 1–3 
88400 Biberach an der Riß
Germany
Phone: +49 7351 51392 
Fax: +49 7351 51394
E-mail: wieland-gymnasium@biberach-riss.de

Contact person: Ralph Lange

 

I LICEUM OGÓLNOKSZTAŁCĄCE
im. Jana Kasprowicza

58-100 Świdnica
ul. Pionierów 30
Poland
Phone: +48 852-25-16
E-Mail:  kasprowicz@kasprowiczanie.com

Contact person: Michał  Żabrowski

Rīgas Valsts 3.ģimnāzija
Grēcinieku iela 10
LV1050 Riga
Latvija
Phone: +371 67222602
E-mail: r3g@riga.lv

Contact person: Dita Lapina

 Liceo G. Cevolani
 via Matteotti 17
 44042 Cento
 Italy
 Phone: +39 051902083
 E-mail: info@liceocevolani.it

 Contact person: Paola de Matteis

Foss videregående skole

Steenstrups gt. 20
0554 Oslo
Norway
Phone: +47 23 22 67 70
E-Mail: fossvgs@ude.oslo.kommune.no

Contact person: Åse Pedersen

 

summary of the partners

Wieland-Gymnasium Biberach
Adenauerallee 1–3 
88400 Biberach an der Riß
Germany
Phone: +49 7351 51392 
Fax: +49 7351 51394
E-mail: wieland-gymnasium@biberach-riss.de

Contact person: Ralph Lange

 

I LICEUM OGÓLNOKSZTAŁCĄCE
im. Jana Kasprowicza

58-100 Świdnica
ul. Pionierów 30
Poland
Phone: +48 852-25-16
E-Mail:  kasprowicz@kasprowiczanie.com

Contact person: Michał  Żabrowski

 

Rīgas Valsts 3.ģimnāzija
Grēcinieku iela 10
LV1050 Riga
Latvija
Phone: +371 67222602
E-mail: r3g@riga.lv

Contact person: Dita Lapina

 

Liceo G. Cevolani
via Matteotti 17
44042 Cento
Italy
Phone: +39 051902083
E-mail: info@liceocevolani.it

Contact person: Paola de Matteis

 

Foss videregående skole

Steenstrups gt. 20
0554 Oslo
Norway
Phone: +47 23 22 67 70
E-Mail: fossvgs@ude.oslo.kommune.no

Contact person: Åse Pedersen

project description

The main purpose of our project was the comparison and the exchange of pedagogical and didactic concepts in the STEM field between the participating partner schools in Olso, Cento, Riga, Schweidnitz and Biberach. The target group, particularly talented students in the natural sciences, should be particularly interested in and encouraged in the preparation for university studies in the field of STEM. That's why we choose the project name EXRECO (Ex: explore, RE: research, CO: communicate).

The innovation of our project shows through the integration of school and extracurricular activities to awaken and intensify the interest of our students in natural sciences.The arranging of the curricula, the extra-curricular activities which where relevant for this project and the weighting of the STEM subjects in the five European countries were easily implementable and mediated results, which were partly surprising. Although the differences in the interpretation and character of the curricula and teaching contents were clear but comprehensible. Even if the implementation and application of the presented best practice offers of the partner schools is not always directly possible, important impulses could be received. For the Wieland -Gymnasium we could take some good suggestions with us, in order to achieve our stated goal of improving the communication possibilities and of the IT lessons.

 

However, the large discrepancies that exist both in terms of financial resources and organizational freedom suggest that there is no room for maneuver at school level, but that changes on a political and administrative level are needed.

 

The innovation of our project shows through the integration of curricular and extracurricular activities to awaken and intensify the interest of our students in natural sciences.

Firstly, school contents are deepened, supplemented and applied by additional offers, which is unusual for a normal high school. (Numerous scientific AGs in the complementary area).

Secondly, the location advantage of Biberach with the unusually high density of internationally renowned companies (Liebherr, Boehringer, Vollmer, Handtmann) is used through cooperations. In addition the students benefist from an intensive cooperation with the student research center Südwürttemberg, the University of Biberach and the University of Ulm.

Third, due to the EXRECO project for the first time at Wieland-Gymnasium, students 'focus is directed to other European countries and their design and opportunities in the field of STEM, thereby the students' horizons in terms of study options were expanded.

In contrast to traditional ERASMUS+ projects, the focus was on STEM and not on linguistic. The practice and improvement of the foreign language English was a natural consequence of the fact that English was the language of the day and the linguistic exchange in the schools primarily served to communicate about subject topics.

 

participants

Participants of the project were students in grades 9 to 12, mainly from existing working groups, such as the researcher group and the biotechnology group. The recruitment took place through an open tender with project description; teachers from the natural sciences and a head-member as co-ordinator and linguistic support. The selection of the other schools was made by direct recruitment.

In Biberach a total of approximately 1,500 people were reached. In addition to all those involved in school life at Wieland-Gymnasium, these include other local schools with their students and teachers and interested cooperation partners, such Böhringer Ingelheim, SFZ, Technical University and the Observatory Laupheim.

project management

In the course of the project monitoring the adherence to the target direction, the deadlines and the budget was monitored. As project leader in the broader sense, the project coordinator was responsible, supported by the members of the project teams as specialists in the natural sciences.

During the first meeting the Wieland-Gymnasium, as the coordinating school, presented a draft of the intended changes, achievements and improvements. The desired goals were formulated and their implementation in the respective project meetings was initiated by presenting suitable measures and methods. In preparation for the meetings, the respective programs were sent to partner schools with corresponding to-do lists and the results (eg daily diaries, science posters) were made available to the partner schools. In order to make the approach and quality of teaching in schools transparent to partners students and teachers were able to do job-shadowing.

An Erasmus+ DropBox provided by the Wieland-Gymnasium and the specially created ExReCo-Homepage were used as a communication platform.

Furthermore, the first meeting produced a two-year plan (project timetable and project timeline), which was kept during the project.

An agreement on the payment arrangements for project meetings and Learning / Teaching / Training Activities was made in the first session. The management and monitoring of the budgeting was done independently by the individual schools.

 

Various activities were carried out to measure the project's success at the Wieland-Gymnasium. For example, feedback sheets were created, outputted and evaluated to determine satisfaction with the project, as well as to improve preparation for profile selection (grades 8 to 11).

There were regular personal discussions with all involved in the project.

The scientific leadership took on the formulation of possibilities for the extension and revision of the curricula in the course of the new course level, as well as ideas on course content (seminar course) for the departments of natural sciences NWT, biology, chemistry, physics, computer science and mathematics.

 

The project was marked by an unexpectedly smooth running of the meetings. As planned, project risks were minimized through communication: the contacts were characterized by respectful togetherness.

Problems that arose from the different view of the time frame in answering messages could be named and eliminated. Potential risks were identified by the different approaches and responsibilities in the management of finances, and therefore agreed clear responsibilities for the transnational meetings, which were largely respected.

operation

For the planning, initiation and implementation of the project ExReCo three transnational project meetings took place as planned. The participants were the main responsible persons for the project of the five schools. The visiting partner schools were represented by their respective principals or a deputy and the project leader. The coordinating school involved not only the headmaster and the respective project manager but also the entire project team. The purpose of the meetings was according to the timing of the content aspects: getting-acquainted, rough planning, framework conditions in the first meeting, interim balance and outlook on the second section in the mid-term meeting and final analysis, results and future planning in the last meeting.

Financed were the arrival and departure, accommodation and catering, the rent of the seminar rooms, consumables of the workshops and the transfer to the various localities.

In addition, five exchange events took place as educational, teaching and learning activities with students and teachers (learning / teaching / training activities). Two groups each from different European countries, consisting of 8 students and two accompanying teachers, visited one of the other partner schools over a period of 7 days. The costs resulted through the arrival and departure, accommodation and food for the accompanying teachers, consumables for the materials produced and taken away, gifts for the school management and the supervising teachers on site.

 

The project management itself followed a more classical method with the phases: initiation - planning and analysis - implementation with monitoring - completion.

Naturally, the operation of the ExReCo project was largely based on observation and communication.

It applies to both students and teachers:

  • findings learned from experience gained in classroom activities and activities in workshops, in the host schools and in the offers of external partners
  • Gaining expertise in linguistic and cultural terms due to the verbal and written exchange with guest students, host parents and teachers of the partner schools
  • Vertiefung der Kenntnisse und Fertigkeiten in der Herstellung von Produkten (wissenschaftliche Poster, Berichte, Fragebögen)

 

The concept of the ExReCo project is based on a participation of all partners. This principle has been adhered, so that all partner schools have contributed equally to the success of the project.

 

Contrary to the original plan, it was not communicated via eTwinning but mainly via e-mails and - locally in each country - using the faster and more convenient WhatsApp. The language of communication was English. In addition to the coordination and exchange meetings mentioned in the process description, planning proposals, suggestions and results were communicated via e-mail. Regular meetings were held in the national teams and the current status was communicated promptly to the school management and the college through reports in meetings of all teachers from the school.

On a positive note is the engagement of all involved and the willingness to respond with tolerance and respect to the different views and mentality of the partners. Even though there were no irreconcilable differences, we would reserve ourselves for future projects to require as an indispensable condition of participation that in the team of each partner school at least one representative at the meetings, who has sufficient knowledge of the language of communication. Furthermore, it would be desirable for a project of this kind to cooperate exclusively with schools that have a roughly comparable administrative and organizational structure. Too large discrepancies in financial and equipment terms are not effective.

 

The main target group of the project were first and foremost interested and talented upper middle and high school students. Another target group were teachers who teach science subjects, and who are interested in school development and in optimizing and adapting the curricula of their subjects to the rapid development of recent years, both in the educational landscape and in society in general. In this context, of course, there are the school administrators, in their interest must be to bring their school in a positive direction and that they are dependent on well-trained, informed teachers and motivated, interested and cosmopolitan students.

Other target groups were the education partners of the schools, as there were companies, state and municipal institutions as well as colleges and universities. These are interested as later training centers and employers in a well-prepared youth and have shown appropriate interest and commitment.

transnational project meetings

All three transnational project meetings runned as planned.

At the first meeting in Germany in September 2017, the foundations were laid and binding framework conditions for financing, documentation and dissemination were defined. It was agreed on the requirements of the students taking part in the exchange trips (age, form of the student applications, possibilities of receiving a guest student). Agreements were also made as to which documents had to be available for the trips (travel authorization of the parents, travel confirmation for groups, information on illnesses, etc.) and in which form the certificates of attendance should be available. The opportunity for classroom visits and the presentation of scientific working groups, as well as visits to external education partners in Biberach and the surrounding area gave a first insight. In a workshop, the tasks for preparatory work, activities during these meetings and follow-up of the students and teachers were created for the transnational meetings and the concrete results were summarized in lists. (What to do? Lists in the appendix)

A half-year project meeting held in Riga a year later served to communicate the measures taken at the individual schools, to coordinate the further course of action and to prepare the upcoming activities in the sending of groups of students. The profiles of the Latvian school and their working methods in the natural sciences were also presented, as well as the educational partners (library, university and energy efficiency center) visited and illustrated with concrete examples with groups of students, how the Latvian partner school introduces their students to the university working methods and to promote the attractiveness of a natural science oriented career.

The final project meeting took place in June 2019 in Schweidnitz. Through intensive individual and group discussions, the previous experiences were discussed and found on the procedure for the presentation and dissemination of the results.

In addition, the possibility of cooperation in future Erasmus projects with individual partners were discussed.

educational, teaching and learning activities

All five short-term training, teaching and learning activities (LTT activity) took place as planned and always followed the same pattern and procedure:

C1: LTT activity in Cento; visiting students / teacher groups from Oslo and Riga

C2: LTT activity in Schweidnitz: visiting students / teachers from Biberach and Cento

C3: LTT activity in Biberach: visiting students / teacher groups from Riga and Cento

C4: LTT activity in Riga: visiting students / teachers from Oslo and Schweidnitz

C5: LTT activity in Oslo: visiting students / teachers from Biberach and Scheidnitz

Preparation: Matching the pairs of students according to interests and requirements in the school application forms, presentations of the school profiles and hourly tables for the comparison on site

On-site program: Visits and workshops with external partners and at the school; Teaching visits and talks; Preparation of daily daries and reports; Exchange of teachers on curricular and extracurricular content; Accommodation of students in host families, farewell party with students, teachers and host families

Follow-up: Dissemination on the Erasmus+ project: Report of the exchange meeting in the Comprehensive Teacher Conference; Setting the daily diaries, photos, videos, reports, attendee certificates in the ExReCo Dropbox; Reports in the press and on the school homepage.

participants at educational, teaching and learning activities

Each partner school had a group of 16 students participating in individual education, teaching and learning activities:

The selection of the students took place via a call for applications at the beginning of the 2017/18 school year. Followed by interviews with the national team of teachers. Participating students undertook to participate in a working group during the project period and to actively participate in project design, implementation, evaluation and dissemination. The students all had the opportunity to receive a guest student from one of the partner schools when visiting the partner schools in their families. They were supported in all their activities by the project teachers and other science teachers. The English teachers of the individual schools were the contact persons for reports, development of templates and presentations.

The project accompanying teachers of the project team were all committed teachers from the fields of science or mathematics next to school heads members. Her duties included counseling the school management and looking after and accompanying the students taking part in the exchange. As active teachers (in the participating subjects and supplementary offers), they presented their lessons and supplementary offers to the project partners, documented the course of the project and the results and thus contributed significantly to school development. Teachers also played a prominent role as lecturers in the dissemination of the results.

Follow-Up

effect

As a general effect is the - not quantifiable - satisfaction that the participants feel about the project. The feeling is valued to have worked a week away from the home country in terms of content and the foreign language English. To create and present products and to experience a society that was previously only knewn as vocabulary. Coming so close formed friendships in some cases, but in any case the comprehension that the similarities are sginificantly greater than the differences has been developed.

This feeling applies equally to the students as well as to the teachers. The teachers now have some good new ideas to make their lessons even more interesting. Concrete examples can be mentioned here:

  • the idea to integrate a scientific research with subsequent Science Conference in the two-year seminar course
  • the Robotics AG, which will be also available in Riga from next year
  • the special Bunsen burners used in Riga and Schweidnitz, which from now on used in natural science subjects

 

At the local level, the greatest impact is certainly evident in each school. Partners' comparison and assessment of science curricula has resulted in a more conscious approach to the emphasis on content and desired skills and abilities of students on their way to the world of work.

There is also a much wider public perception, both on the part of the school community and at the other schools and local companies.

The impact on regional level is reflected in the increased cooperation with institutions such as the Student Research Center in Bad Schussenried and the University of Ulm, by which the network university, high schools, industry, the scientific work in molecular biology and biotechnology is brought to high school. Somewhat disappointing was the low response of the other registered and invited high schools in the region.

At European level, it is not possible to assess with certainty how the impact will be in the medium and long term. The aim is not to interrupt the contacts and to be able to participate in the further development of our European partner schools.

 

Our goal of reaching relevant, high-level skills of the students for high school, college and their career choice in the field of STEM has certainly been achieved through a variety of different activities: from guided scientific work (gene isolation, chromatography, programming) Microcontrollers, chemical and biological microscopy) on independent research in the field of research and presentation (Science Conference, presentation of school curricula and timetables, ...) to improve the foreign language English and the development of personal skills through constructive cooperation in a foreign cultural environment, there was significant progresss on all the students involved.

Another goal, the strengthening of the profile of our science teachers, has also been achieved, although there are certainly clear differences in relevance, which is due to the sometimes very large differences in the initial situation.

distribution and use of the project results

The selection of our target groups is dictated by the project idea: all parties involved in the school life of the partner schools as well as their cooperation partners.

Within the partnership, the main target groups were naturally the school communities of the partner schools. This included the students and teachers participating in the project, the student and teachers in general, the school management and the parents. The project results were made available to the various groups via presentations (posters, partitions, conferences, homepages).

Outside the partnership, local companies were approached who were eager to attend lectures and presentations, as well as to strengthen their presence with plant tours, lectures and visits to schools and to highlight the attractiveness of their apprenticeships.

The interest of other local schools - including other types of schools - shows that the problem is not limited to high school and it is to be hoped that a start has been made to promote cooperation and flow of information and thus to achieve transparency to benefit the students and their entire environment.

At the regional and national level, mainly the high schools were addressed, through personal invitations and reports in appropriate committees.

The target groups in Europe were of course our school partners with the appropriate groups of students, parents and teachers, as well as the companies cooperating with our partners.

 

The dissemination of the results took place mainly through oral and written communication:

In order to provide a basis for comparisons of the curricula, presentations were made by the students highlighting the specificities of the different schools and representing their national context. In workshops, these were presented to each other to work out the differences and similarities. For the other two schools that did not participate in the respective L/T/T activity, the results were uploaded to the DropBox.

The presentations of the various curricular and extra-curricular course contents (best practice) in front of the various partner groups were translated into English by students and also loaded into the DropBox in order to be usable for the other European schools. (Appendix egg race, etc.) The reports with photos and videos found their way into the especially for ExReCo created homepage by students, the school homepage and the local press.

Feedback sheets from all participants completed the feedback on satisfaction with the overall project.

Within Europe, there is a realistic chance of learning from good examples from other schools, provided that the schools have comparable starting points and financial and creative possibilities for implementation.

We currently see difficulties in the direct implementation in the connection to certain curricula, since in Baden-Württemberg a change to basis level and expert level courses is coming and thus a reorganization of the education plans is accompanied.

The contact with some school partners remains. Initial discussions have already been held with two of the schools to explore whether there can be a follow-up project in the near future. Feedback on newly introduced courses based on the experience gained in the project will be requested by the coordinating school at the end of the next school year. The DropBox set up for the project will be continued to be available for further feedback.