Promoting STEM Studies among Young Students 2017-04-24T15:38:32+00:00

Promoting STEM Studies among Young Students

Carmen Bachiller


Keywords: Science; Technology; Engineering; Mathematics; promotion; young students; vocation

H2020 challenge: Europe in a changing world – inclusive, innovative and reflective societies

Knowledge and skills (P: prerequisite; D: desirable, but not necessary): to have a previous knowledge on the situation of STEM studies in the student country as well as interests and vocations of young students (P); to be sensitive to gender and socioeconomic inequality aspects; to have a previous knowledge and skills on ICT resources (P); to be innovative, curious, proactive and open-minded (D); to be prepared to work in multidisciplinary and multicultural teams (D)

The study of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) has suffered a strong decrease during the last decade in Western Countries [1]. Causes of this decrease are very diverse, but it seems necessary to take actions to improve the perception that future students have about these studies and to introduce technology to high school classrooms.

Despite that the number of ICT jobs decreased a 10% in Europe during the period 2006-2010, it is expected that Europe will require one million of ICT professionals in a short future. Moreover it is a fact that a good development in ICT is crucial to face economic or social crisis. Nevertheless, two main factors that contribute to maintaining, or even worsening, this situation are: i) setup of high school studies; and ii) perception pupils have regarding technological studies [2].

On the one hand, the balance among Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, and Science and Technology in secondary studies and Baccalaureate is not uniform neither agreed in all European countries. In some high schools the Science and Technology Baccalaureate is not fully completed due to a lack of material resources (a science laboratory is far more expensive than a conventional classroom). Moreover, Technology and Computing syllabuses are sometimes optional and programs of Mathematics and Physics are less extensive than during the 90’s and 2000’s decades.

Additionally to this scenario, students have a negative perception of technological studies: difficult and poorly paid. Finally, but not less important, society perceives that ICT professionals are nerds and media presents them as funny strange people without glamour. This is completely obvious if we make the comparison between The Bing Bang Theory and CSI characters where both characters are supposedly scientists. It is even worse if compared with the image of other professionals as lawyers, doctors or brokers [4]. Moreover STEM studies are less attractive to girls – only a 10% to a 20% of ICT students are women, and those numbers are not increasing throughout the time [5].

Five INNOSOC students, supervised by two INNOSOC lecturers, will collaborate on answering how to reverse this situation by the promotion of STEM vocations among Secondary and High Schools students [3][6]. The key idea is that University students, who are closer to these young students in age and culture, develop new strategies of promotion. These activities will be conducted as a part of the ERASMUS+ blended mobility and will be finalized during the INNOSOC Zagreb 2016 workshop in late April 2016.

One challenge for Europe is to become an international player with a specific importance without losing the values that characterize our civilization [1]. These values will lead to inclusive, innovative and reflective societies.

In order to succeed in this field, it will be crucial that new generations, who are digital natives and users in European society, deeply dominate the technological languages as well. These technological skills will make European society independent of external factors and will allow us to develop social policies, integration and international cooperation which are our own. Giving young people skills in STEM disciplines will allow EU to tackle H2020 challenges, since most of them are connected with an advanced technology development. Access to STEM disciplines for the most disadvantaged groups of population should also be ensured, as a way to promote their development and integration, in that way actively working to eliminate the digital gap inside the EU. Finally, the downward trend of girls going for technological vocations should be reversed. Poor technological skills will take them to a worse professional and social development thus improving the gender wage gap and inequality level.

“Innovation” as a core INNOSOC topic. STEM skills are tools for innovation. Anybody can have a very innovative idea than can improve people’s life, but to develop and make this idea real a huge amount of knowledge and work is needed. In our time both knowledge and work will be related to STEM skills in one way or the other. The innovation perspective of this case study could be recognizes in focus on the technological culture that is needed to make innovation real.

Intercultural topics, with focus on “Multicultural teams”. Different STEM students from different countries will discuss situations in their countries and ideas to promote the STEM studies. It is expected that they focus on: i) gender gap of these studies; and ii) access to the ICT resources in different communities.

ICT topics, with focus on “Innovative engineering based on ICT”. ICT resources are crucial to promote STEM studies: audio visual information, social networks, open access platforms, information and courses, on-line studies, multiple platforms and non-traditional teaching and learning strategies.

Student projects, with focus on “Case studies on how ICT can contribute to innovative societal development”. University students enrolled in STEM studies will raise ideas to encourage Secondary and High School students to follow the STEM-based careers. Their view is very valuable since they are closer in age and culture.

[1] Blog of Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the EC. Europe urgently needs the right jobs and skills. My mission in Davos. http://ec.europa .eu/commission_2010-2014 /kroes/en/blog/davos-jobs-skills. Last access, 26th june 2015.

[2] Everis and e-motiva. Factores influyentes en la elección de estudios científicos, tecnológicos y matemáticos. Visión de los estudiantes de 3 y 4 de ESO y Bachillerato.\%20vocaciones.pdf. Last access, 26th june 2015.

[3] C. Bachiller, J.V. Balbastre, and J. Oliver. Promoting vocation for Communication and Electronic Engineering. Proc. Int. Conference on Engineering Education (ICEE-2010), Gliwice, Poland (2010).

[4] N. Anderson, Cl. Lankshear, C. Timms, and L. Courtney. “Because it’s boring, irrelevant and I don’t like computers”: Why high school girls avoid professionally-oriented ICT subjects. Computers & Education, 50, no. 4, (2008) 1304–1318.

[5] J. Steinke. Cultural representations of gender and science: Portrayals of female scientists and engineers in popular films. Science Communication, 27, (2005) 27-63.

[6] C.E. Davis, M.B. Yeary, and J.J. Sluss Jr. Reversing the trend of engineering enrollment declines with innovative outreach, recruiting, and retention programs. IEEE Trans. Educ., 55 no. 2, 2012, 157–163.
Young students in a demonstration of SoundCool, an application of electronic music developed in collaboration with the Technical University of Valencia (UPV)
Young students in a demonstration of SoundCool, an application of electronic music developed in collaboration with the Technical University of Valencia (UPV)
A class of (In)Security in wireless networks given by a Telecommunication Engineering student to High School students
A class of (In)Security in wireless networks given by a Telecommunication Engineering student to High School students

Questions that need answers

  • Which is the current situation of STEM studies is your own country? Has it improved or decreased in the last 10 years?
  • How is the access to STEM studies from Secondary/High School studies in your own country?
  • What is the percentage of girls addressing these studies in your own country?
  • What is the perception that young students have about scientists and engineers?
  • How can STEM studies be more attractive to young students and girls in particular?
  • What is the most appropriate age for the promotion actions?
  • Which promotion actions are more effective?
  • Are ICT tools effective for promotion?
  • What problems (economic, temporal, logistic, social, personal resources, knowledge, skills…) occur during promotion actions?
  • How can benefits of actions be measured?

Case study supervisors

Carmen Bachiller does not have a photo :(

Carmen Bachiller

INNOSOC Lecturer

Case study students

Miroslav Dočár does not have a photo :(

Miroslav Dočár

INNOSOC 2016 Student

Martina Majcen does not have a photo :(

Martina Majcen

INNOSOC 2016 Student

Florian Boyrivent does not have a photo :(

Florian Boyrivent

INNOSOC 2016 Student

Alex Gascon does not have a photo :(

Alex Gascon

INNOSOC 2016 Student