Integrated STEM and Sustainability Education
Integrated STEM Education has become increasingly popular with its multi-faceted promise to address complex or multistep questions and to tackle real world problems. As these challenges call for environmentally and socially sustainable solutions, the need for environmental and sustainability education remains a persistent and critical issue.
In line with these concerns, our school supports future-oriented STEM education that fosters scientific literacy as well as skills building, responsible action and the reflective engagement with issues of critical importance for the benefit of sustainable development. With a view to reinforcing a STEM orientation across the curriculum, our teachers develop their knowledge and skills in integrated STEM Education and work together to foster child-centred approaches that aim at abilities, attitudes and values for sustainable development from an earlier age. At the same time, members of staff, among which is the Greek Scientix Ambassador Ms Stella Siouli, have the required experience and knowledge to support the development of students’ confidence and ability to use science for positive social impact.
To this end, following their participation in the Life Terra MOOC “Teaching sustainability for action”, our teachers Stella Siouli and Myrto Nerantzi developed two learning scenarios that illustrate a comprehensive approach to STEM Education for sustainability.
More specifically, making a case with reference to the imaginary island Insula, the scenario developed by Stella Siouli presents students with a real-life problem for the inhabitants of low lying island nations, who experience the impacts of climate change through rising sea levels earlier than other countries. It makes use of the Educational Pack: Terra Mission and applies an inquiry-based approach that allows students to realise the effect of their everyday habits on people living thousands of miles away. It thus encourages learners to transfer knowledge of energy conservation into energy-saving practices by creating a feeling of empathy towards the inhabitants of Insula, the imaginary low-lying island nation that experiences the impacts of climate change through rising sea levels. In these respects, the scenario offers a suitable pedagogical resource for environmental sustainability education, leading to change of attitudes and habits regarding the consumption of energy and the use of electric appliances.
The scenario developed by Myrto Nerantzi deals with school transportation and follows the framework of project-based language learning, making use of tools and lessons found in the Educational Pack: Terra Mission as well as a variety of online applications and resources. Presented with the real problem of air pollution that our city, Thessaloniki, is facing, the class creates a campaign leaflet in order to inform the school community about the carbon footprint of school transportation and urge the students to take action for more sustainable transportation. The students participate in experiential learning activities such as the observation of pollution levels with the use of a real-time online air pollution map or the design and implementation of a school transportation survey, which integrate EFL learning with Mathematics, Natural Science, Environmental Education and ICT. In these respects, the scenario creates ‘authentic’ learning opportunities, based on real-life experience and for real-life purposes and real-world applications.
In addition to the learning scenarios, the students of our school under the guidance of Konstantinos Delistavrou are going to implement a STEM project, as a configuration for The Internet of Things. Participating in the Astro Pi Mission Zero Contest, students write a simple program to take a humidity reading onboard the International Space Station and communicate it to the astronauts with a personalised message, which will be displayed for 30 seconds! Students form teams, design and develop their code solution, and submit their program to the ESA. The programs that fulfil the requirements run on the Astro Pi computer onboard the ISS for 30 seconds.
You can find more information about the project at Mission Zero web site https://astro-pi.org/mission-zero/.
Finally, our school has been running a variety of STEM clubs, such as Robotics, Physical Computing – STEAM, Pervasive Mobile Games and Astronomy, participating and winning awards in national competitions.
In conclusion, our school actively promotes inquiry-based and experiential learning, adopting an integrated STEM orientation. In this way, we hope to empower our students to develop the necessary knowledge, skills and sustainability mindsets that will help them deal with the global challenges.