As the world struggles with the COVID pandemic, one question that keeps coming up in conversations
among educators is how to teach students amid the uncertainty. Specifically, the difficulty is with
teaching subjects that require hands-on learning in order to master the concepts and make them one’s
own. Today, however, I would like to pose a different, more global question: How can we help
students identify with science in a deeper, more meaningful way? How can we help students
develop what is known as science identity?
Making science enjoyable inspires students to learn more. Out-of-class activities such as science fairs and Olympiads, serve as reasonable informal learning environments that demand attention. The association of students’ involvement in these activities with increased student interest in science followed by the selection of science-related careers, should motivate all in-charge stakeholders. In this work, we analysed the outcomes of the Bosnia Science Olympiad (BSO) as the first national Science Olympiad in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), aiming the improvement of science education and bringing different ethnic groups under the umbrella of science, in a post-conflict area. The two-day endeavour held in Sarajevo includes competition in four science-related categories (Environment, Engineering, Have an Idea, Web Design) and social activities. In this work, the comprehensive data, including participants’ gender, their ethnic background, cities, schools, and supervisors, over five years, was analysed. The number of participating high-school students increased from 78 to 143, of supervisors from 21 to 95, and of schools from 7 to 15, reaching a wide demographic acceptance to cover all ethnic regions in BiH. The relationship between gender and the selection of a category, shows bias of male participants towards Web Design (21%) and Engineering (40%), and of female students towards “Have an Idea” (40%) and Environment (44%) categories. The contribution of BSO choosing a science career, getting socialized without prejudices, and the improvement of students’ self-confidence, were as well addressed. Our work demonstrates a model work to successfully promote science in post-conflict settings.
Engineering Technology (ET) is often combined with that of Engineering. Although Engineering Technology is based on a more hands-on approach and Engineering a theoretical approach, the two majors share a very similar pedagogy in teaching students the same engineering and scientific principles. An observation by an ET professor found that ET students more often than not would eschew the use of mathematical computations and instead provide answers they believe to be correct, without computation or explanation. Leading researchers to delve into possible reasons as to why ET students are reluctant to utilize mathematics. This study utilized in-person interviews with 15 undergraduate participants from a Midwestern University in the United States of America from ET to ascertain how ET students perceive mathematics. The results of the study found that although ET students were stated to not hate mathematics and are open to using mathematics, there was a slight apprehension towards math due to bad math experiences and not being able to connect the conceptual nature of mathematics to the visual and real-life scenarios ET students are used to facing. The results of this study help to lay the foundation for future research studies geared towards further understanding why ET students are apprehensive towards mathematics and ultimately how to help ET students overcome this apprehension.
There have been a limited number of studies that examined the relationship between professional development (PD) and self-efficacy with technology tool use, specifically concerning high school science teachers. The main goal of this quantitative study was to identify any specific correlations between science teacher self-efficacy and the professional development science teachers received for those specific classroom technologies. Participants were comprised of a randomized sample set of high school science teachers throughout 46 different US States. The data was collected by using an online survey via the Qualtrics survey platform. The survey was sent to 3000 science instructors and 104 in total completed it. The results suggest that science teachers’ efficacy was high with course management systems and student wireless or digital devices, but not for social networking/media. There was no significant connection between technological self-efficacy and PD for related technology tools. However, it is possible that science teachers are already highly efficacious in terms of technology, and observational studies are recommended to see when and how teachers actually use technology in their classrooms.