The Open School for Open Societies initiative is coming to your school

The Open School for Open Societies initiative is coming to your school

Dear teacher,

The inspiring science endeavour continues its journey in the realm of inquiry-based learning and innovative teaching in the modern classroom. And it is doing so with an attempt to address the biggest challenge facing the European educational setting, that of opening up our schools to the communities that host them.

Work in more than 5,000 schools across Europe in the framework of numerous European initiatives and Policy Support Actions (Inspiring Science Education, Go-Lab, Ark of Inquiry, RRI Tools) over the last five years has shown that a school effectively introducing innovations in science education entices families, community groups, local businesses, international experts, universities and other stakeholders and can transform itself into an open school, with student projects meeting real community needs and challenges.

Have you ever thought that your students, through their school projects, could influence local policy on issues such as energy efficiency, light pollution, tourism, nutrition, health, sustainability, responsible research and innovation, etc.?  We believe they can! Here are some examples:

The Dark Skies Rangers Global Initiative is an awareness program aimed at students of all ages, who are asked to measure light pollution in their school/district. The young light pollution fighters evaluate the level of light pollution, how much energy is being wasted and produce a report to be delivered to the local authorities. In 2013, in the Portuguese city of Vila Real, a student named Francisco Pires produced an inspiring movie, asking the Local Council to adopt more dark-sky friendly street lighting and they positively responded, saving 40% in street illumination costs. In the same town a Vocational Geography teacher and her students produced a plan to create a touristic area near Vila Real devoted to Night Sky Observation.

The School Garden initiative in Greece has evolved gradually to build 100 school gardens, bringing gardening and plant-based learning at the forefront of primary education. The initiative has teamed up with local communities, as well as Greece’s Institute for Educational Policy, to build gardens that are actually outdoor classrooms, where kids learn about nutrition, science, maths, languages, entrepreneurship, local history, etc. Many of these schools, especially in remote and rural areas, are studying solutions to local environmental issues through projects developed in the framework of the school garden.

A team of 9th grade students at the Ellinogermaniki Agogi Junior High School, developed an exhibit for the Sparks initiative. Sparks includes a unique touring exhibition aiming to familiarize and engage European citizens with the concept and practice of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) in health by inviting key stakeholders to actively question, experiment and play with science in a way that makes it relevant to today’s society. The exhibit is the outcome of a school project involving a reverse science café and the study of two innovations:

  • Nutrinsider is an application that promotes a healthy eating based on the mediterenean diet and tackles food waste.  
  • CityCrop is an automated indoor garden that enables people to grow fresh, flavourful and healthy food year-round

The Opens Schools for Open Societies project (http://www.openschools.eu/) is aiming to support a large number of European schools to implement Open Schooling approaches by: 

  • Setting out the open schooling values and principles for action around curriculum, pedagogy and assessment
  • Offering guidelines and advice on issues such as staff development, redesigning time and partnerships with relevant organisations (local industries, research organisations, parents associations and policy makers)
  • Suggesting a range of possible implementation models from small-scale prototypes through to setting up an “open school within a school” or even designing a new school

The overall aim is to highlight the importance of science, research and innovation to young peoples’ lives and inspire them to pursue STEM related careers and become more responsible citizens.  

Proposed project activities will focus on areas of science that are linked with societal challenges and priorities set by the European Commission:

  • Health, demographic change and wellbeing
  • Food security, sustainable agriculture and forestry, marine and maritime and inland water research, and the Bioeconomy
  • Secure, clean and efficient energy
  • Smart, green and integrated transport
  • Climate action, environment, resource efficiency and raw materials
  • Europe in a changing world - inclusive, innovative and reflective societies
  • Secure societies - protecting freedom and security of Europe and its citizens

They will also heavily concentrate on issues related to research and innovation and their consequences, involving students in schools discussing how science and technology positively impact human welfare and wellbeing but, also, how they create new risks and ethical dilemmas, fail in solving the problems they are meant to address and spur controversy.

To find out more about OSOS and become part of this inspiring science endeavour (by getting involved in exciting student projects, joining communities of like-minded teachers, attending training events and summer schools, learning how to fund your continuous professional development, taking part in educational contests, sharing your innovative ideas and getting feedback on them, becoming an agent of change), contact your National Coordinator:  

 
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