This 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.
Science is beautiful. Kids are fully aware of this, that is why they are great explorers, inventors and collectors. But when becoming teens, they tend to lose interest, having usually different things on their minds. Is this a consequence of the current approach of scientific illiteracy activities? How should they address today’s complex society? How will they act as informed citizens?
The way science is taught at school often causes the decline of young people’s interest. SETAC is a firm believer of science, it is convinced that the teaching of science can be improved also through an important contribution of museums. SETAC advocates science education as a lifelong learning tool, useful and effective for active citizenship.
SETAC aims to improve students’ motivation by investing in their education but also in teachers. For these reasons, a consortium of formal and informal educators at European level works on the development of connections between expertise of schools, universities and science museums. and of methods aiming to improve the quality of science education, both in schools and in museums.
Reports and research studies confirm a decline of young people’s interest in science studies, putting under threat the objectives set by the Lisbon agenda which wants Europe at the forefront of knowledge society and economy. The origins of this situation can be found, among other reasons, in the way science is taught at school. Despite the existence of studies recommending change in the approach to science education, the majority of curricula in European countries still use contents and methods which fail to engage young people in science.
However, science education is not only a question of responding to the demands for a scientifically qualified workforce. It is also a question of social goals, related to a new generation of citizens who are scientific literate and thus better prepared to function in a world that is increasingly influenced by science and technology. In today’s knowledge society there is a need for informed, self-confident and conscious citizens who can be critical consumers of scientific knowledge.
In this context, cooperation between formal and informal institutions is seen as an important asset for improving the existing situation. Museums are widely recognised as capable of making a difference in science education and active citizenship, especially when collaborating with other education institutions. They are effectively and complementary resources for school education. Museums have also a socially-responsible role in engaging citizens (including young ones, in schooling age) with science and technology, offering
a) specialised resources and expertise to teachers and students;
b) first-hand experience of science and technology;
c) opportunities for dialogue with the scientific community.
SETAC emerges out of the need to undertake specific action for the improvement of science education. IIt regards science education as among the fundamental tools for developing active citizens in the knowledge society. Science and technology are important school curriculum subjects but are also directly linked to our everyday lives, requesting very often engagement and informed decisions by all citizens. Science education is therefore not only a subject to be delivered by teachers and be learned by students, but should be also seen as a lifelong-relevant tool for developing informed and active citizens.
SETAC draws on the cooperation between formal and informal learning institutions, aiming to enhance school science education and active citizenship. It builds on the results of the SMEC project which aimed at school-science museum cooperation (www.museoscienza.org/smec). ). But SETAC goes further and invests in science education as a lifelong learning tool in the knowledge society. Pedagogy, resources and training are used not only as tools for ‘doing well’ in science at school but also for preparing citizens with strong responsibility and a critical attitude towards the role of science and technology in everyday life. In this sense, the project addresses students and teachers both as agents engaged in classroom practice and as citizens with the right to knowledge and social responsibility.
SETAC aims to: