DCU Team implements STEM education techniques

By Gemma Creagh - Last update


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When it comes to getting primary school children interested in STEM subjects, DCU has you covered…

The EU Horizon 2020 project NEWTON has organised two 8-week, large-scale pilots, ‘Earth Cours’e, earlier this year in St. Patrick’s Boys National School (BNS) and Corpus Christi Girls National School (GNS), Dublin.

These involved educational Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) classes on four major Earth science sub-topics: Atmosphere and Chemistry, Biosphere, Geosphere and Astronomy.

Technologies Used

Various applications developed by NEWTON Consortium Partners were employed:

  • SIVECO developed Virtual Reality and Virtual Laboratories: Wildlife on terrestrial animals,
  • Sea-life on aquatic animals and Physics specifying on the natural water cycle and precipitation formation.
  • NCI developed an interactive educational computer-based video game,
  • Final Frontier focusing on rocky and gas planets.
  • STUBA developed the Geography Blind Globe application, focusing on educational content on the UK and Republic of Ireland.

Results

Over 100 fifth class students in the two primary schools participated in this pilot (60 in St. Patrick’s BNS and 57 in Corpus Christi GNS). Preliminary results show how the NEWTON technologies benefited learners’ Motivation, Affective State and Knowledge Acquisition as well as investigating the Usability of the NEWTON approach.

This confirms that NEWTON technologies provide very positive results in Motivation and Affective State, as around 70% of participating students found the Earth Course interesting and over 80% of experimental class students would like to use similar lessons in other science classes.

Response

These programmes were stimulating for the children, and really piqued their interest. Students were positive about the use of technology in the classroom with an average of around 75% reporting to preferring to use more technology in STEM subjects, seeing it as a supporting tool for their teacher. 90% of participating experimental class learners found the NEWTON lessons easy to use with the majority enjoying most of the applications and technologies employed.

Some of the quotes for students’ feedback include:

  • “I really enjoyed and thank you”
  • “I am sad that this is our last lesson but I did really enjoy from the very first lesson”
  • “I really like it and thank you NEWTON for making me more interested in nature science and maths”
  • “I really enjoyed NEWTON and hope to continue with it in 6th Class”.

Helpful for teachers too

Participating teachers expressed their positive attitude for the NEWTON approach, being open to employing it in the future, subject to school infrastructure. Knowledge-wise, it is shown that NEWTON approach lessons benefited learners, showing knowledge gains of up to 50% for some applications, with a slight advantage for its employment as a revision tool, rather than an introductory tool.

Response

Assoc. Prof. Gabriel-Miro Muntean highlighted that these pilots are just two in a series of over 30 other NEWTON pilots run across Europe, including additional instances of the Earth Course large-scale pilot to be run in Belvedere College in Dublin with secondary school boys and in St Maria School in Romania, with learners with special educational needs.

In particular, he mentioned the Programming large-scale pilot instances which focused on deployment of NEWTON game-based learning, gamification and adaptive multimedia content delivery which run part of the Software Development modules in DCU School of Electronic Engineering and National College of Ireland School of Computing and in which excellent learner satisfaction was achieved.


Gemma Creagh

Gemma is a nomadic writer, filmmaker, & journalist. She was born in Cork, lives in Dublin, and studied in Belfast & Galway, where she graduated from NUIG’s Writing MA. She has penned articles for national publications and is the editorial assistant for Film Ireland Magazine. Gemma was the writer and co-producer of the five-part comedy ‘Rental Boys’ for RTÉ’s Storyland. Her short films have screened at festivals around the world.
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