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Athens: The Greek Science on Stage festival 2016

From 11-12 November 2016 the Greek Science on Stage festival took place as the '9th Hellenic Science on Stage Fair', which included an exhibition and contest of laboratory constructions and educational material on the theme of the programme: 'Inventing the Future of Science Education'. It was held in the premises of 'Laboratory Centre of Physical Sciences of Aigaleo', Athens (E.K.F.E. Aigaleo) together with '10th Science and Technology Fair'. At the event the Greek STEM teachers delegation for the European Science on Stage festival 2017 in Debrecen, Hungary, was chosen. 

The contest was open for teams of students and teachers from all Greek schools. During the two-day event, all selected projects were shown to students, teachers and the general public. The entrance to both events was free. 330 students and 60 teachers presented 150 projects to about 1000 visitors.

The Greek Science on Stage festival was organised by the 'Laboratory Centre of Physical Sciences of Aigaleo' and the Greek NSC. 


Debrecen: The Hungarian Science on Stage festival 2016

The Hungarian Science on Stage Festival was organised in the Agora Science Centre in Debrecen between 7th and 9th October. Almost 100 participants, devoted to science education, presented their most innovative tools and methods starting from simple handmade experiments up to educational projects accomplished in international cooperation. This is an amazing development in the Hungarian Science on Stage history: in 2010 – and before – there were only about 12-16 projects presented at the national festivals, whereas in 2014 this number was already 43, and this year it raised up to 93 projects, presented by more than 150 teachers. Csaba Sükösd from Science on Stage Hungary reports:

"The participants of the festival had the opportunity to visit the Institute for Nuclear Research, Hungarian Academy of Science (MTA Atomki), which hosts also a Historic Site of the European Physical Society. A day later, they were invited to visit the research laboratory and production hall of the National Instruments Ltd, one of the leading high-tech industrial player of the region. 

On 7 October the opening ceremony started with a series of greetings: the vice-mayor of Debrecen, the vice president of the National Research Development and Innovation Office (NKFIH), the Director General of the Hungarian Institute for Educational Research and Development (OFI), the vice-rector of the University of Debrecen and the Acting Director of the Ericsson Hungary Ltd. welcomed the participants and wished good success to the festival. Also the secretary general of the Roland Eötvös Physical Society (ELFT), the umbrella organisation for Science on Stage Hungary, welcomed the participants of the festival and the VIP guests, among them were also the representatives of the SAP and BASF Hungary. 

After the greetings Béla Somogyi, – the director of the Agora Science Centre – introduced the host establishment shortly. While he was speaking, small robots walked around following lines on the floor, which were constructed by small kids after a few practices in robotics in the clubs of Agora. He also showed a more sophisticated robot, which solved quickly the Rubik’s cube. The first day ended by two spectacular on-stage presentations.

On 8 October a wide variety of inventions, experiments and teaching methods lined up in the almost 100 stands, covering almost all disciplines of natural sciences. The excited teachers visited each-other’s stands most curiously between the on-stage presentations and workshops. “The most important message of Science on Stage is not the competition, but the cooperation” – said Marta Gajdosné, who won the "European Science Teacher Award" prize together with German colleagues at the international Science on Stage festival in London last year. The chemistry teacher of the Kempelen high school in Budapest is working together with an international team on a common project also this year.

In the fair the dominance of the spectacular experiments in physics and chemistry was compensated by the stands dealing with mathematics, biology, informatics and education procedures. The whole spectrum of public science education was covered from the kindergarten up to university dealing with the formation of teachers. 

On 8 October there was also the “Open Afternoon”, when not only the participants, but also the public was able to visit the festival. The entrance was free, although pre-registration was advised. The available – several hundred – places were completely filled up quickly, several days before the registration deadline, which shows how popular the festival was. There were even groups of teachers and students arriving with charter buses from far away. However, the allowed total number of persons in the building was limited by fire and emergency regulations; therefore many interested people had to be turned away.  

The organisers of the festival placed the on-stage presentation of dr. András Róka in the “Open Afternoon”, so that also the general public could see his very spectacular presentation. The chemistry professor who also held an on-stage presentation in London, and was invited also to Turkey’s national festival, guided the audience through the story of the formation of the universe and life, while objects were exploding, light-up, combined and disintegrated under his hands. The desktop-sized Big Bang exploded synchronized with the background music, light and stars were born like sparkles, and also a real volcano erupted on stage. Life was created in the smoke-filled room as the chemical form of an exciting love story developed. Poetry, music, fiction and science were combined in the big auditorium filled with either loud laughter or loud applaud of the several hundred spectators.

"Let's start in the direction of cooperation." - addressed the teachers Imre Sipos, deputy secretary of state for education at the closing ceremony on 9 October. "Let us involve also the thousands of teachers who are not here right now, and set back the prestige of the science education in the Hungarian schools into its earlier, highly esteemed place!"           

The president of the 26-members jury, Prof. Norbert Kroó also evaluated the event as highly successful. "As high is the number of projects, as many winners should be announced, but the biggest winners are the children that these teachers teach" – he stated.

The president of the jury and the deputy secretary of state for education handed over the diplomas to the 40 leaders of the winning projects, and to their 30 colleagues, who will represent Hungary at the European Science on Stage festival next year in the Kölcsey Centre of Debrecen. In addition, 14 winners were recommended to the international jury for consideration to workshops, and 5 winners for consideration to on-stage presentation.

Finally, 11 “Special Prizes” were handed over to the winners. Those "Special Prizes" were offered by the City of Debrecen, by the National Instruments Hungary Ltd., by the University of Debrecen, by the Institute of Nuclear Research, Hungarian Academy of Sciences (MTA Atomki), by the Hungarian Chemical Society, by the Agora of Debrecen, and by the Center of Multimedia Pedagogy of UNESCO in the Eötvös University Budapest.

While closing the festival Imre Sipos deputy secretary of state for education expressed his opinion that the next important goal should be that these creative and innovative approaches find their way into possibly all classrooms, so that every student might benefit from them." 


Liberec: The national Science on Stage festival of Czech Republic

The Czech national event took place on sunny Friday, 30 September, at the science centre iQLANDIA in Liberec. Some participants arrived early in the morning and before setting up their stalls they visited the science centre or met the other participants.

31 teachers and lecturers with 19 students, 13 jury members and 9 children jury members met with almost thousand visitors. There were four stage performances, three workshops and twelve stall presentations.

The level of all projects was so high that the jury had a really hard time to decide about the winners and about the team that will represent the Czech Republic at the next European Science on Stage festival in Hungary. Long jury negotiation even caused almost half an hour delay of the program and thus the whole day filled with experiments ended long after 10 p.m.

The whole event was organised by the Czech Science on Stage Team: Zden?k Drozd, Jitka Houfková and Jana Havlíková Bittnerová with help of Petr Desenský and Petra Zákravská from the science centre iQLANDIA. The event would have not been possible without financial support by Faculty of Mathematics and Physics, Charles University, and partnership of the science centre iQLANDIA. 

© Photos by Martina Kekule

Science on Stage UK head to the hills of Wales

As a nice start to the week, Elizabeth Chambers from Science on Stage UK keeps us updated about the latest activities of our network at the UK:

"Alessio Bernardelli and Shirin Sheikh-Bahai, both UK delegates from the 2015 international festival, waved the Science on Stage UK (or Gwyddoniaeth ar lwyfan UK in the Welsh language) flag at the British Science Festival in Swansea. The festival took place between the 6 and 9 September and was the latest edition of Europe's longest-standing national event which aims to connect the public with scientists, engineers, technologists and social scientists.

The annual festival has a special evening event dedicated to STEM education, aptly named the STEM in education evening. For the first time, Science on Stage UK held a stand alongside some of the UK’s largest STEM supporters, to raise the profile of the opportunity and live application process with Welsh teachers and technicians.

Shirin, head of Science at the Harris Academy in London, and Alessio, former teacher at Croesyceiliog School, spoke about their projects, teaching ideas and also the amazing opportunity Science on Stage was for them to teachers, STEM professionals, scientists and even members of the Welsh Government.

This September will also see two articles about Science on Stage UK coming out in well respected and well read education publications. Colin and Deirdre tell their story of Science on Stage UK in the 265th edition of Education in Science, and Alessio has written about his workshop with Giovanni Pezzi from Italy back in the summer in the September edition of Classroom physics.

We are looking forward to sending our UK delegates out to more events in the UK and internationally and writing more articles in this new academic year before the festival in Hungary, to continue to highlight the amazing opportunity and benefits from engaging with Science on Stage."

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