Lack of diversity, especially gender inequality and social background are some global problems in different sectors but especially latent in the context of the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering (and the recently added concept of Arts), and Mathematics (STEAM), from primary school to university level and, therefore, labor market. When we talk about diversity, we are worried about attracting representative people from all sectors of society, different cultures, disabilities, ethnic groups, gender or sexual orientation. When the needs of some groups are not adequately addressed, we also speak of exclusion. We can assume that the low numbers in professional context are related to the low diversity in STEAM areas, starting in primary school and arriving to higher education. For example, the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study shows that only 30% of woman choose to study STEAM careers.
Taking into account the context described, CreaSTEAM project aims to provide an actualized map of the resources focused on the reduction of the diversity gap using STEAM approaches, and how to select from these resources better solutions to create a framework to implement STEAM-Labs into secondary schools. The STEAM-Labs, as a main innovation of the project, merge the solutions that we can find in FAB-Labs, MEDIA-Labs, and USER-Labs, and our approach is focused on the creation of good practices in these spaces in order to promote diversity in STEAM, where diversity also covers gender equity, and social inclusion for promotion of STEAM vocations.
For achieving our goals, CreaSTEAM project will:
- Mapping initiatives related to promoting STEAM and best practices among children and young people in order to address diversity-gap (mixed method: quantitative research with qualitative evaluation)
- Develop a framework for schools to implement effective activity packages to promote diversity in STEAM in collaboration with the communities and associations of a region.
The results expected will be: the creation of a complete guide and map of resources focused on the different lines of STEAM focused on diversity-gap reduction, to make easier for any type of educational institution the implementation of new proposals; and a guide to design, create and develop STEAM projects in a new concept of specific laboratory, the STEAM Lab, which merge the options and resources of Fab-Lab, Media-Lab and User-Lab spaces.
We present a consortium with three levels of partners (7 in total, with more than 25 teachers and researchers involved, to impact directly100-200 students of the schools during the project, and more than 1,000 schools in the dissemination processes of the project results, based on the capacity of connection between schools and FIDAE, BURSA, STUDIENSEMINAR, and ARLEP the network where URL-La Salle is member):
- Two universities defining the project, and leading the main activities related with the two outputs defined, identifying indicators to study and defining the mapping framework, also in charge of the training processes of the schools and coordinating all the activities related to diffusion and dissemination. Both institutions URL-La Salle and USAL are addressing projects focused on the STEAM methodologies applied in different scholar levels, from infants to VET (Vocational Educational Training), and High School. They are working to mentor schools and institutions to break the main stereotypes in STEAM areas, as for example the gender-gap.
- Three local/regional/national educational associations, and public institutions that are regulating some issues on educational priorities. Their participation is very important because they can identify with a broader view the principal ideas, resources and systems to implement STEAM approaches in schools. Defining a widely trans-national strategy of good practices and basic opportunities to design, create and develop STEAM-Labs in schools, the possibility to ensure the dissemination of the results (both O1: Results of the implementation of STEAM-Lab, and O2: Mapping of resources focused on using STEAM approaches for diversity-gap reduction) and the sustainability of the project will have more successful options, based on the main dissemination activities that will be developed by these three institutions (FIDAE, BURSA, STUDIENSEMINAR).
- Two schools, both with students affected by diversity-gap, not only gender, but also social problems, immigration issues, etc. The project will train the teachers taking into account the necessities and possibilities of the schools to implement the STEAM-Lab. After that, they will design and create these spaces in order to develop some pilot projects focusing on the reduction of the diversity-gap and the profile of the students using STEAM approaches.