pupil and teacher experimenting

More than 400 contributions to digital education competition for young Europeans

By submitting digital education projects related to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) topics, over 700 young people from across Europe participated in the SciChallenge competition. 12 winning projects have been selected, following the jury and online ratings.

While the demand for skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) is increasing, enrolment rates in STEM-based degree programs remain low in many European countries. Addressing this issue, the EU project SciChallenge was launched to encourage young people (age 10-20) to self-produce digital, scientific education material to be used by other young people. The long term goal was to make education and careers in STEM more attractive.

700 participants from 28 countries

The contest attracted more than 700 participants from 28 countries. Together, they created over 400 projects that gathered more than 4 million views and 20 000 likes on YouTube and Slideshare during January–May 2017. There was an almost even distribution among 10-14 and 15-20 year olds. This also holds true for the gender distribution, 56 % female and 43 % male, showing that the competition was attractive for girls as well as boys.

Most of the projects addressed the Open STEM Topic, followed by the topics Clean Water, Health, Climate Change, Biodiversity and Robotics. The award event, where SciChallenge trophies were handed over to 12 winning projects, was held at the University of Vienna and joined by over 600 attendees.

The major responsibility of Linnaeus University, as part of the project consortium, has been to lead the work-package that elaborated the SciChallenge concept that is based on social media, user-generated content and STEM contests. The consortium consists of nine organizations from eight European countries.

Increase the motivation of pre-university students

– For me personally, it was a pleasure to work with leading scientists in Europe on increasing the motivation of pre-university students for STEM education and careers. For Linnaeus University, it was very important to be part of a Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme. The competition is extremely high, SciChallenge being among those 4 per cent of project proposals that was retained for this specific funding topic, says Sabri Pllana, Project Manager at Linnaeus University.

The SciChallenge project was successfully implemented and currently the consortium is busy providing the final documentation to the EU funding organization. The experience gained in SciChallenge will serve the university well in our future research endeavours, concludes Sabri Pllana.