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News Alert: New web site for science education


Today sees the launch of the new "Xplora" portal, a new European gateway for science education. Such initiatives will be an important part of improving Europe’s economic position in coming years, as more researchers are needed to drive innovation. "Xplora" provides resources for primary and secondary education, and is aimed at teachers, pupils, scientists, communication professionals and others involved in science education. Xplora has been developed with funds from the Science and Society action of the EU’s Sixth Framework Programme for Research and Development.

As the European Commissioner for Science and Research, Janez Potocnik, recently stated during an internet chat with schools from 10 EU countries, "Research and science start with curiosity. School should be about encouraging this curiosity in children. I think this is crucial to encouraging more young people to choose a research career."

The aim of Xplora is to stimulate science education to make it more interesting for young people. Key features include:

Megalab - giving insight into innovative practical science approaches and projects

  • Fully searchable standards-based database of digital learning resources for science education
  • Virtual events - online expert discussions for schools
  • Guidance on freely available Open Source tools for science education
  • Tools for creating online communities
  • Science education news, information, teaching tips and ideas, simulations and science activities

The project that has developed Xplora – known as Pencil – is unique in bringing together science education experts in formal and informal teaching methods to develop innovative approaches and materials that raise pupils’ interest, knowledge and motivation. Pencil involves more than 13 scientific institutions, and is part of the wider Nucleus framework, a cluster of science education projects involving Europe’s major research laboratories, such as CERN and the European Space Agency. In addition, Xplora has set up content partnerships with other science institutions and organisations. The Portal is supported by a team of specialist science teachers from across Europe, who ensure that the content is of good quality and relevance, and propose activities, resources and content.

Xplora will be launched at the Ecsite conference in Vantaa, Finland, which is being held 10-12 June. The patrons of the Xplora portal are Professor Benoit Mandelbrot, the eminent mathematician who discovered fractals, and Ray Kurzweill, a leading expert in artificial intelligence. It is operated by European Schoolnet, a network of 28 Ministries of Education.

Stephen Gosden | alfa
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