Erasmus+ Science Outside Featuring Technology ”SOFT”
“It is easier to judge the mind of a man by his questions rather than his answers.” (Pierre-Marc Gaston, duc de Lévis). Science begins by asking questions and then seeking answers. However, science education focuses upon the end game of “facts” rather than the exploratory root of the scientific process. Encouraging questioning helps to bring the true spirit of science into our educational system, and the art of asking good questions constitutes an important skill to foster for practicing scientists. The project is based on outdoor learning because recent studies have exposed the benefit—even necessity—of spending time outdoors, both for kids and adults. Some argue that it can be any outdoor environment. While it’s unclear how exactly the cognitive functioning and mood improvements occur, there are a few things we do know about why nature is good for kids’ minds:
- It builds confidence
- It promotes creativity and imagination
- It teaches responsibility
- It provides different stimulation
- It gets kids moving •It makes them think
- It reduces stress and fatigue
How do we recommend to do this? While there are hundreds of recommendations, none is simpler and more powerful than this: take children outside into nature and let them ask. The simple strategy of building students’ confidence and making them feel like experts by asking “what” questions rather than “why” questions. “Why” questions imply that there is a correct answer. “What” questions, on the other hand, focus on what they are noticing and doing, and can be springboards for teachers and students to investigate together.
On the other hand, national parks are often places where people previously lived and worked-they have been formed by a combination of natural and human processes that embody an identifiable history of cultural and political values. Conservation of protected areas is primarily about how we perceive such landscapes, how we place differential values on different landscape components, and who gets to decide on these values. That’s why the best places to make activities during the project are our National Parks.
The positive impact of the project on the students and teachers will be realized through the realization of the specific Project objectives (PO):
PO1. to develop a booklet for implementing the outdoor learning methodology to school-subjects in 6 European schools by sharing best practices and testing the proposed models of outdoors activities as we will be able to work in the outdoor environment as a classroom.
PO2. to develop skills of teachers from 6 European schools for using innovative approaches in teaching STEM, by using the outdoor learning methodology during transnational learning activities for students.
PO3. to enhance the transversal key skills in students (age 12 -15, girls and boys) from 6 European schools from Lithuania, Greece, Romania, Portugal, Finland and Croatia, through collaboration and exchange of best practice for implementing the outdoor learning methodology, in a period of 2 years and combine technology with outdoor learning.
PO4. to enhance the quality of education and enrich the school-offer, by developing innovative didactic materials based on interdisciplinary approaches and valuing the informal and non-formal learning. PO5. to raise awareness of the importance of Europe’s cultural heritage and reinforce a sense of belonging to a common European space through education and lifelong learning.
Project objectives will be carried out through the realization of project activities during student mobility as well as in the time between student mobility such as:
-to design of the Official Project Logo and Booklet
-to create a Twinspace with all the didactic materials and pedagogical tools created in the project so that they are available for the entire European educational community
-to create Geocatching route their home areas, Memory cards, Board games, Quizes at Kahoot, Questions and tasks at seppo.io, 3D photos and smart-phone applications for our National Parks to be annexes for the booklet
We hope that the project will help us to understand the health benefit gained by taking learning into the outdoors, teachers to learn about outdoor pedagogy in a cross-cultural perspective, share experience and knowledge with others and students with better understanding STEM.
STEM is a way of thinking about how educators at all levels-including parents-should be helping students integrate knowledge across disciplines, encouraging to think in a more connected and holistic way. By asking the right questions, we can help stimulate investigations where students are identifying objects, making comparisons, making predictions, testing ideas and sharing discoveries, all while observing their natural environment. Students can also explore sizes, shapes, patterns, and quantities in the process. In this way, children can learn concepts from different disciplines in different contexts, all in ways that are naturally engaging to them.