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Different countries – similar problems

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A beautiful experiment with water pearls. I learned it from a colleague – this was one of the cool outcomes of the conference – new ideas!

I have been surrounded by science this week… As more than 60 people from 9 European countries and Canada (Iceland, Germany, Denmark, Czech, Switzerland, Ukraine, Finland, Nederlands, Estonia and Canada) ┬ácame to Iceland to participate in the EuroScienceFun 2016 Conference, I had a chance to meet the next generation of scientists and science educators. Yes, it is strange to write “the next generation” as I feel that I am only at the beginning of the road… and yet the new people are coming. There were many amazing discussions, shows, presentations at the conference and I was very excited to see what is going on. However, I also noticed a few common themes that point out, in my view, at one important missed opportunity. The science outreach all over Europe, as far as I could see manly focuses on one-day events or science camps or even teacher workshops that are conducted by professional scientists or scientists who are hired by big international organizations to do science outreach. Who can imagine a more powerful international science organization than CERN? However, as an educator of future teachers, I felt that one topic was somehow amiss. The scientists are trying to address the problems of inadequate science education in our countries by doing patchwork. In other words, we are trying to fix the symptoms and not the problem itself. I keep thinking that what we all are suffering from is the lack of serious science and mathematics education of future elementary and secondary teachers. The issues is international – the teachers are often unprepared to teach mathematics and science and then scientists come later on to tell the kids – even though you might not have had any exciting science or math lesson in your 6 or even 7 years of elementary school, we can show you cool demos and you might get excited about science. This is not right. I keep thinking how to engage future elementary teachers in science, so they can teach math and science in elementary school and they enjoy doing it. This is going to be on my mind when I come back to Canada. And now, thanks to this amazing conference, I know amazing people from all over Europe who I can ask for help. Many thanks Katrin and all the colleagues from the University of Iceland for organizing such a memorable event. I hope to see you soon!

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