Monday 28

PERFORM meeting – World Science Day for Peace and Development 2016

Posted by UNESCO on 28 Nov 2016

The world is facing a global crisis in science education, as seen by diminishing number of youngsters interested in studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). A considerable percentage of young people in the world are not interested in STEM careers mainly because they perceive science as boring and difficult, and they feel they lack the necessary skills to deal with such topics. Such negative perceptions discourage adolescents from actively seeking to learn about science, explore career options in STEM fields, and undervalue the role of science in society.

PERFORM is a European Commission- funded project aiming to investigate the effects of the use of innovative science education methods, based on performing arts, in fostering young peoples’ motivations and engagement with STEM in selected secondary schools in France, Spain and the United Kingdom.

PERFORM project looks to move beyond merely increasing scientific and technological knowledge to developing a reflective knowing of science in which young people can consider its purposes, values, and how it becomes reality. Learning science involves restructuring of perception and through this young people might come into new relationships with the subject, and perhaps themselves, in establishing their identity with the subject. To these ends scientific researchers, performers and young people are working together in schools for developing performance- based activities. It is hoped that the collaboration will increase young people engagement with science, its values and the processes of research.

UNESCO’s role in PERFORM is to promote the sustainability of the project and embed policy linkages between PERFORM and EU science education policy and decision-makers, from the early stages of the project, in order to ensure fluid communication between PERFORM members, policymakers and science education practitioners. In addition, UNESCO is also in charge of ensuring the long-term impact and relevance of the PERFORM findings, methodologies and outcomes across Europe and to return the research results to the European society.

In this framework, UNESCO as one of PERFORM partners, organized at its Headquarters a meeting to present and promote the PERFORM project to the UNESCO’s Permanent Delegations and the general public on the occasion of the World Science Day.

Established by UNESCO in 2001, the World Science Day for Peace and Development (WSDPD) is celebrated worldwide on 10 November each year. The day offers an opportunity to mobilize various partners to highlight the important role of science in society and to engage the wider public in debates on emerging scientific issues and the relevance of science in their daily lives.

On the occasion of World Science Day for Peace and Development 2016, PERFORM meeting gathered at UNESCO Headquarters about 80 secondary school children and 53 UNESCO permanent delegations including France, Spain and USA. A general presentation of this EU H2020 funded project on enhancing young people's motivations for science through performing arts has been made to the audience followed by three different performance shows based on stand-up comedy, clown and busking science.

The public reception of the conference and the performances was highly positive and some delegates and representatives from different countries approached the organizers in order to obtain further information and stay in contact with the Project’s managers.

Some reactions:

  • “This (PERFORM) is a fantastic project; it should be widely spread not only in Europe but also in developing and emerging countries” (Delegates from Egypt and Gambia)
  • “This is a simple and effective way to engage youngsters into STEM” (Delegate from Luxembourg)
  • “It was really entertaining; the approach is interesting” (Delegate from Ireland)

Overall, PERFORM is perceived as a stimulating and innovative project to engage young students with STEM careers, developing their interest in science and raising up their will for questioning themselves about scientific topics, through an entertaining and attractive methodology.

Casimiro Vizzini and Alex Da Silva

Casimiro Vizzini and Alex Da Silva work on the PERFORM project at the UNESCO

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