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This Play Decide gives an overview on aims and strategies for science camps to collaborate with stakeholders, regional companies and academic institutions.

Author / translator Danel Solabarrieta

This Play Decide gives an overview on aims and strategies for science camps to collaborate with stakeholders, regional companies and academic institutions.

Collaboration with local companies (especially SME), regional academic institutions, and other stakeholders of science camps is a crucial part of the success of the camps. On one hand the stakeholders share the interests of the camps and – being sponsors - control the financial operations and the outcomes. On the other hand the camps need partners in “reality” of the scientific and engineering field to test their approaches, to show practice and to have persons to be invited to the camps functioning as models and as discussion partners.

How these partners work together, what expectations they individually have and what visions they share is not always clear. Very often time is lacking to share the aims. By examining existing science camps or other activities like competitions, the Scicamp project consortium (http://sciencecamps.eu)has wanted to evaluate those methods, which are most rewarding. Beside this it has been also interesting to get information about hindering facts and misconceptions of the stakeholders. Making these points open and enabling a discussion, helps existing and further out-of-school STEM activities to organize and optimize their work.

Making a Play Decide for Science Camps based in real testimonials from science camps organisers and doing it open to the public will foster a wide development of out-of-school activities in STEM-Education. It also provides models for schools to orientate in their collaboration with stakeholders like companies or industry. It can also influence the collaboration between schools and institutions of third phase of education (academic or vocational training) to help more young people to decide for a career in STEM-professions.

The Science Camp project has been funded with support of the European comission (Project N°: 527525-LLP-1-2012-1-DE-COMENIUS-CNW)

Aims of the game

This Play Decide gives an overview on aims and strategies for science camps to collaborate with stakeholders, regional companies and academic institutions.

Created 27 June 2014
Last edited 20 June 2018
Topics Education, Science

Policy positions

Policy position 1

Funding: Public and private companies should help science camps funding them and they should have a control of the outcomes.

Policy position 2

Resources: Public and private companies should offer researchers to guide to the youngsters in their projects during the camp more that to offer visit tours to the centres and hands on experiments.

Policy position 3

Timing: Public and private companies should offer a continuous support to the youngsters’ projects more than a one day visit to their centres.

Policy position 4

Role of coordination: Education department and Science centres should take the role of organizing the collaborations between the schools and the research centres.

Policy position 5

Social aspect of science camps: The social aspect is less important than the scientific aspect in science camps, so we shouldn't emphasize that aspect in the promotion, although everybody knows that the camps are a place where the youngsters do new friends.

Story cards

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My expectations changed throughout the four years participating quite a lot. While at the very first time I was mainly interested in the scientific side of the camp which would answer me a lot of question and give me the opportunity to try experiments, methods and material I would not have had access to, I more and more realized how much the camps are also about the people you meet there. The diversity of participants was from “geeks doing nothing else than sciences in their free time anyway” to “send on educational summer camp by my parents, but actually not interested”. Besides finding friends, friends I am still a lot in contact with, the mixture of different people gave me the great opportunity to see how different other peoples perspectives and approaches can be on various things, but especially of course on sciences.

Linda (Camp organiser)
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I want to transmit that doing science is fun, possible for everyone and different from what they perceive in school. But also I want to transfer some aspects of the Nature of Science, as well as I want to recognize them, that math is an important part of science. I also see science as complex and a topic to discuss, which is not just right or wrong. Therefore it also has different implications for society.

Uffe (Camp organiser)
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I would like them to plan at the first day, what they would like to do or engage in and then I would try to make this possible by material and involving different experts (also by making trips to see them). I would also like them to have a chance to talk to scientists about their life as a human working in sciences. Talking about things like frustration, how he or she came to make this specific job, how the work with the colleagues is, what the highlights of their working life is and so on. I do not believe that all students should get scientists. But I do believe that doing science can be fun for everyone. And that they should get an authentic picture of what scientists do. Not better, but also not worse than it is in reality.

Hanne (Camp organiser)
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As an entomologist, I would like to show that you don’t have to go to the Amazonia to find new species, we still are discovering them here, and I would like to show too that the anatomy of the insects, looking through a magnifying glass, is amazing. Nowadays society doesn’t support too much the creation of scientists that are decided to fall in love and get obsessed with a scientific field, for example in taxonomy. My question is: do we have nowadays any youngster that goes to the fields to collect plants or butterflies? Any youngster that asks for identification guides for Christmas present? What should we do to have youngsters that are interested in the real nature reality and not only in the virtual reality?

Martin (Collaborator scientist)
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The science camps are necessary to the society, and if they don’t receive public funding the society is doing a very big mistake, because we will need more scientific men and women, more people with scientific thinking and more science in general. Science is not taught the same way in the camps than in the school. And even less is learnt the same way. In the Science camps the students “live” the science, and sometimes I have seen something in their eyes that have touched me.

Susana (collaborator researcher)
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I try to serve as the anchor point for the group and the individuals. I feel it is important for them to have a central “authority” to go to with questions about everything from procedure and organization to early questions about the content and their job in the workshop, at least in the beginning. They have usually never met each other before and all they bring with them is their interest, so my job is to get them to interact with the material at hand to find out what they want to work on and to get to know each other at the same time. My goal is to enable them to work and research in groups autonomously.

Rita (Camp organiser)
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As a facilitator my role is something in between the actual “workshop instructor” and the participants itself. The idea is that I can contribute with experiences from the workshops of the years before especially when participants get stuck, lose concentration of focus, or get discouraged by failures in the experiments. Here I can try to give some inputs which are either knowledge and experiences I gained in the workshops of recent years, pre-knowledge I might have due to the few more years of education (we as tutors are usually one or two years older), or simply ideas I come up with spontaneously as a product of my curiosity just as the participants themselves.

Christian (Camp organiser)
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It was actually a bit tricky to find a good balance to implement and enforce rules upon the participants, especially in the evenings around the accommodation. On the one hand we are clearly not supposed to represent any authority, on the other hand trying to keep some order among the participants can be a great help to the instructors but also to keep the atmosphere in the camp positive and sociably. This is only possible if the tutors show sensitivity and find a midway.

Olivera (Camp organiser)

INFO CARDSISSUE CARDS

Educational methodology

(Organiser) Teachers should receive more training of how to work in science projects.

Educational methodology

(Teacher) In some cases we see very high level projects, so we doubt about how much the students have participated in it.

Educational methodology

(Organiser) Science has much to do with their own thinking. It is not always a way to success. But the children should learn not to give up immediately, but to pursue their further questions. Independence often leads to success

Timing

(Teacher) At the beginning we thought that it was too much time, but then we realized that the more time the teams are together, the more they socialize, and that is very important for their education.

Timing

(Organiser) I personally belief one or two days more could be quite beneficial as the conclusions and evaluations of the research projects usually happen on the last morning before the departure of the participants what in my opinion has a negative impact on their quality.

Timing

(Organiser) The cooperation between strangers is always problematic, especially when it comes to very large groups. In smaller groups produced a greater sense of unity and a longer time together would provide more potential.

Role of mistakes

(Organiser) The Science Camp is not to replace the school, but also offer young people the opportunity to perform with a lot of fun and their own work or own presented experiments. The Science Camp is intended to show young people that they themselves can achieve something and are also able to work through mistakes and learn from them.

Role of mistakes

(Organiser) The young people think that math and science are often uninteresting or too difficult, but there is not fear of failure at Science Camps.

Role of mistakes

(Organiser) I think no matter how badly school ruined our taste for sciences at that point already, if the chance is given I think it is totally worth it to try and to embark on sciences. The summer camps give the perfect opportunity for that.

Educational methodology

(Researcher) My aim is to show the hidden face of the nature and the fascination of the discovery, without falling in the “stupidity of fun”.

Visit to the research centre

(Teacher) The visit to the research centre was a rewarding “adventure”, but we were lucky because it was quite nearby public transport. If it had been further it would be impossible to visit it.

Visit to the research centre

(Teacher) The visit to a research centre or university is a must to know the real work world.

Visit to the research centre

(Researcher) We didn’t know about the students’ project before they come, or what they wanted to ask or know about.

Visit to the research centre

(Researcher) A second visit after finishing their project would be a great idea.

Visit to the research centre

(Researcher) I would have liked to see the final work of the youngsters.

Visit to the research centre

(Researcher) I am not sure if my help was enough or useful.

Visit to the research centre

(Researcher) The projects were not correctly designed, so I couldn’t help too much.

Visit to the research centre

(Researcher) Some students’ project didn’t have a clear objective.

Visit to the research centre

(Researcher) Most of the researchers say that they would have liked to receive more information about what the students were working in.

Visit to the research centre

(Researcher) Most of the researchers say that they would have liked to receive more information about what the students expected from them.

Organisation of the visit

(Teacher) I am aware that it is very difficult to find a researcher expert in the student project’s topic close and for all the teams.

Organisation of the visit

(Teacher) It was impossible for us to do one visit per team to the researchers, we couldn’t manage to prepare so many visits to different labs.

Organisation of the visit

(Researcher) I would have liked to see the student’s work more developed and reported.

Organisation of the visit

(Teacher) Maybe they could show how things work in little hands-on experiments. And what else?

Collaboration with professionals

All the science camps collaborate with companies, research and academic institutions, schools, other educational and governmental institutions etc. The idyllic idea of a science camp as an isolated group of youngsters has disappeared?

Collaboration with professionals

(Organiser) Some teachers and researchers participate in the preparation of programs and are engaged providing scientific and educational content to participants. Sponsors provide the necessary resources and media help us announce the camp and raise awareness on its values and importance.

Collaboration with professionals

(Organiser) We have sponsors. They do not control the outcomes, we just inform them on the results and the feed-back of participants. They are informed on the financial plans in advance and later they get the report.

Collaboration with professionals

(Organiser) Within the lectures and university classes, the university students are involved in organizing the science camp, evolving the camp program and are supervisors.

Collaboration with professionals

(Organiser) I think the interaction between the summer camps and local firms and scientific institutions is already one of the best ways and steps which have been taken in this concern.

Collaboration with professionals

(Organiser) We are always interested in local companies “just” being interested in supporting us material and moneywise.

Collaboration with professionals

(Teacher) Academic institutions as well as scientific companies can create and run their own workshops for the youngsters.

Collaboration with professionals

(Organiser) It should be local companies own concern to draw the participants’ interest to pursue a career with them. In my experience, no place we visited has ever left a bad impression, no matter how they approached us. They should not expect any direct reward though (except for an expense allowance maybe), but rather see this as a long-term investment into their possible future staff.

Collaboration with professionals

(Organiser) Academic institutions should, as they tried, use the opportunity to inform about possible academic prospects. This however has to happen on an age of the participants adjusted level. Otherwise it might be rather repelling.

Collaboration with professionals

(Collaborator) If we want to increase the interest and vocations we should show what we do and what we have here, in an easy and collaborative way.

Collaboration with professionals

(Researcher) Public and private companies should help in the funding of the science camps.

Researcher support to the youngsters

(Teacher) Researchers should be experts in the topics the students are working in. Ours weren’t so it was quite time-wasting.

Researcher support to the youngsters

(Teacher) Some of the researchers were pleased to help to the students but finally they couldn’t because they were too busy.

Researcher support to the youngsters

(Teachers) Researchers should continue giving feedback to the students’ project after the visit.

Researcher support to the youngsters

(Teacher) It was very successful to put together students and researchers. The most complicated point was the assignment of researchers to the student teams.

Researcher support to the youngsters

(Researcher) There was a big distance between the students’ work and our research field, if they were closer we could have helped more.

Motivation, interest and vocations in STEM

(Teacher) The students were very motivated in the visits to the research centre, the opportunity to know the university fields increased their interest in S&T.

Motivation, interest and vocations in STEM

(Teacher) The students came back from the visit to the researchers being more creative.

Motivation, interest and vocations in STEM

(Teacher) It is very important to give to the students recognition for their work

Motivation, interest and vocations in STEM

(Organiser) Participants who are more into sciences can be highly motivating and encouraging to those who are less interested, while those often ask the better questions breaking science down to things we encounter in our everyday life

Motivation, interest and vocations in STEM

(Organiser) Girls are still underrepresented in some areas. I think simply being around others who are also interested in what they do at the camp helps a lot.

Science project's choice

(Teacher) I think it is teacher’s work to help selecting the research topic to the students. This year I left them to do it without help and it didn’t worked, some of them have selected too complicated problems or they have realized information research without a project.

Science project's choice

(Teacher) It is more motivating to leave to the students to select the topic, but the teacher should help and this sometimes is difficult because we are not experts in all the topics.

Science project's choice

(Teacher) Even that it is complicated to leave the students to select the topic for their project, this helps the organisers to adapt to their resources and opportunities.

Science project's choice

(Teacher) I think it is a good idea to leave to the students to choose the topic because that way they have to discuss why they have selected it.

Science project's choice

(Teacher) Leaving in students’ hands the option of choosing the project’s topic is good for their imagination.

Science project's choice

(Teacher) The students were lost when selecting the topic for the research. We would prefer to have a battery of options to choose.

Science project's choice

(Teacher) The organisers should give a battery of options of research contrasted with the researchers.

Science project's choice

(Researcher) The students didn’t know what they could and wanted to do.

Communication between youngsters and researchers

Communication between youngsters and researchers need some time to be profitable and to create an emotional link, one day visit is not enough.

Gender issue

According to Google, there were four major factors that determined whether girls opted into computer science, one of them is "Social encouragement".

Gender issue

According to Google, there were four major factors that determined whether girls opted into computer science, one of them is "Self-perception".

Gender issue

According to Google, there were four major factors that determined whether girls opted into computer science, one of them is "Academic exposure".

Gender issue

According to Google, there were four major factors that determined whether girls opted into computer science, one of them is "Career perception".

Place for science camps

(Organiser) Our Science Camp in the North of Germany uses the rooms in a University of Applied Science. There we could use also the laboratories and get tours and lectures from the staff. The coordination of that Science goes together with the Ministry of Education, who care about the applications.

Place for science camps

(Organiser) Our Science Camps in the middle of Germany took place next to the University of Halle, where we also visit laboratories and get lectures. The overnight stay there is organized together with society who cares about social problems and education. We get special conditions to offer a lower price for the Camp.

Gender issue

According to Google, most girls decide before they even enter college whether they want to learn to code.

Strategies

The science camps are mostly organized in order to promote interest for science and education (92%), but the answers also emphasize recruitment and social perspectives as well as recreation

Strategies

Most of the participants are enrolled through formal application (42%), others are attending via teacher’s recommendation (25%), others are committed through first come, first served principle and a few are selected by special criteria (8%).

Strategies

The target group of the science camps are young people who are interested in science, but half of the camps have no specified criteria for enrolling and are open to all (45%) whereas some 55% of the camps are aimed at gifted or talented.

Programs

The science camps are mostly resident camp (90 %) but there are also a few day camps among them.

Programs

The science camps last from 1 day up to 24 days, but the average duration is 5-7 days.

Programs

Some of the organizers also offer other types of camps such as music, literature, film and language camps.

Gender issues

The science camps are mostly co-gender with a few single gender camps, though.

Programs

The teaching is taken care of by both staff from the university, university students with and without a degree, as well as high school teachers, but also elementary school teachers.

Participants

The participants are from 6 to 20 years old representing pupils from primary school (5-9 years), middle school (10-12 years), lower secondary school (13-15 years) and upper secondary school (15-18 years), but the representation from upper secondary school /high school is the largest portion with 33 %.

Stakeholders

Most of the stakeholders are universities (80%) but also companies (40%) are represented. Moreover parents (30%), public authorities (municipality and government) (55%), media (50%) and sponsors (40%) are mentioned.

Financial resources

Most of the camps receive sponsorships (64%) and foundation grants (64%), some are supported by governmental money (36%) and nearly all camps require participant fee (82%), just as almost half of the camps have capital of their own (45%).

Science camps as part of school curriculum

In Denmark most of K-12 classes go on trips, lasting for a couple of days with overnight stay (Lejrskole). Traditionally teachers have arranged the content, but recently more and more of those camps have been planned by others.They differ from science camps in several ways. One of the most notable is that students are forced to participate no matter if they like science or not.

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