IDiverSE, which stand for Islands Diversity for Science Education, aims at addressing the diversity of Islands – from geographic and biological diversity, to cultural heterogeneity and societal challenges.
Diversity is a very important concept. While it provides us with the rich variety of species and habitats we have in our planet, it is the key point in the resilience of the Earth’s ecosystems, including Human life and development. Understanding the differences and similarities among people, places, fauna, flora, geographical features, conditions for life and adaptation to diverse natural, social and cultural environments, among others, is at the very heart of this project.
Students involved in the project will learn how to conduct experiments that will expose them to the collaborative inquiry methodology benefiting their local communities with the findings of their research projects. While discovering the specific cultural, social and natural conditions of their local habitat and comparing it to the specificities of the other islands participating in the project, students will be able to better understand the value of their islands as well as the importance of protecting their cultural and natural heritage. At the same time, they will be realizing the impact of human activities in the local fauna and flora, assessing the behaviour of their local community and acting accordingly in order to raise awareness and bring development to their islands.
Steps of the project
Students will learn how to perform scientific research through a series of already prepared short experiments that involve the contact with their local community and follow the inquiry-based science learning methodology, where they will work together with students from other islands, collecting and sharing relevant data with each other.
After going through these experiments, students will be called into becoming the active leaders of the process and, through the four steps of the design thinking methodology, develop projects that are meaningful and bring an added value to their islands and communities. As such, students will follow the following steps:
Feel - students will select the topics that are most relevant to their community, and will collect important data regarding those topics, as well as evaluate the level of awareness of their community;
Imagine – students will look at the data they have collected in the Feel phase, and will brainstorm ideas for possible solutions and how to apply them. Students will discuss among each other and involve community members and other important stakeholders in order to imagine possible solutions for the chosen topics.
Create – always following the scientific method, students will make experiments to understand if their imagined solutions are applicable and effective, and will create their final solutions (with the collaboration of their community) that should be applicable and practical to target the chosen topics; students will find ways to implement their solutions together with their communities, opening the doors to development;
Share - students will create physical science trails in their islands, where they will explore means to create awareness among their communities with a series of experiments that will bring knowledge about specific topics to the participants, and provide tips about possible solutions they can adopt, as well as enhance the possible best practices of their own island. The science trail will be co-created in partnership between the school and the local community.
During the whole process, collaboration among students from different islands will be promoted in order to analyse how different or similar communities in the different islands can be regarding specific topics, the level of awareness in the different communities, and to brainstorm possible solutions as well as to share best practices that might be relevant for each other.
A collaborative data collection platform will be used (Globallab), where students from different islands will be able to introduce their data and retrieve data from others, comparing data from all the islands involved in the project.
Involvement of communities around the school
Students will involve their families, acquaintances and their surrounding community in the different activities, by establishing conversations, retrieving data, and providing important information. Students will work together with their communities in order to co-create solutions and improvements for important and relevant issues, at a community level.
Science, Nature, Culture, Social issues, heritage, islands, diversity
The main learning objectives addressed in this project are the acquisition of competences regarding the scientific method, as well as the development of 21st century skills, such as Collaboration, Communication, Critical thinking and problem solving, Creativity, Tolerance, and Global citizenship awareness. The whole process will be done in a student-centred approach with the integration of STEAM.
More specifically, the learning objectives are of methodological and scientific order:
Students will understand that their environments have similar conditions to other participating islands, but also unique features, in a few cases, unique to their own island;
Students will learn to work in collaboration with other students in a resembling what happens within the science community;
Students will learn the steps of the scientific method, and its importance for the understanding of natural phenomena;
Students will learn how to handle data, and the importance of following the necessary steps for data acquisition;
Students will learn how to validate their results, discuss with others, present their findings, and listen to other's ideas;
Students will explore their own environment and find more about their communities’ knowledge and beliefs;
Students will plan and test solutions for their local problems;
Students will learn unique aspects of the local flora and fauna, and how human activities can protect them or endanger them;
Students will work with scientists from various fields, while building their own knowledge of the topics chosen for their investigation;
Students will learn how to present their own ideas, while engaging local communities in dissemination and awareness events.
Importance of this activity to the school
Schools can freely join the project, use the activities and request support to implement the project. They will be invited to participate in workshops and training activities that will support them, and further instruct them on the materials and methodologies.
Motivation for this activity
Our key motivation is to raise awareness for the importance of valuing and protecting the unique cultural and natural heritage the islands of the world, while giving teachers the opportunity to renovate and update their teaching practice to a more student-centred approach, that focuses on the development of key 21st century skills.
While students in the islands may feel somehow isolated, we aim at providing them the opportunity to collaborate, communicate and co-create with students from other islands, creating a network of work and friendship, that may last beyond the duration of the project. This is also applicable to the teachers involved in the project, which will be working in a European network, making important social overseas connections.