The aim of the study was to evaluate the activities of Estonian Research Council on popularising science and technology and to provide recommendations for planning and implementation of similar activities in the future.
The study looks at how and what information on various activities has reached schools and what activities are valued as useful in sparking children’s interest in science and technology. In addition, it was analysed whether participating in natural sciences and technology related activities and projects will affect the career choices of students in primary and secondary education and what can the government do to support the activities popularising science and technology.
The findings show that current activities popularising science and technology mainly take place in universities and science centres and are based on academic values. In general, this leaves an impression that a career in science is only possible at university or in research institutions. However, career options in self employment should be highlighted.
The study brings out that the growth of science funding in public sector is slower than in private sector, reasons for this are limited public funding as well as increasing competition and pay pressure on wages.
Media, study resources on natural sciences and technology, popularising events and competitions, and science centres should be used to keep current activities and system elements well functioning. Problems that need addressing are extracurricular activities, working with enterprises and providing information on STEM careers.
The following recommendations were made:
- Continuing with major initiatives to raise the awareness of science and its role in the development of the society
- Offer continuous support for teachers and schools in implementing modern teaching techniques
- Attention on long-term projects and better integration of short-term projects
- More projects focusing on younger children
- Bringing up to date career counsellors knowledge on the nature of a scientist career, and study and career options STEM fields
- Coordinate a network, which supports planning, raising awareness and development work
- Conduct effective monitoring of activities and whether these are achieving targets and goals
- Focusing on progeny as well as increasing competence in the field
- Support more projects with a span of many years and secure funding for activities that have proved to work
- Conduct a study on the level of awareness and attitudes in different target groups and establish indicators that evaluate the effectiveness of the activities undertaken