Science education leaders gather in Tartu

  • 2010-07-07
  • By Ella Karapetyan

TALLINN - The University of Tartu Science Education Center organized the 2010 World Conference on Science and Technology Education from June 28 to July 2. The conference brought to Tartu around 200 experts from 40 countries all over the world. The central theme of the world conference was science and technology literacy, which is regarded as one of the key factors in forming quick-thinking and innovative citizens and in completing the transition to a knowledge society.
The conference program focused on three main topics such as research in science teaching and science learning, including curriculum development and interpretation of the findings of quantitative international studies; the nature of current orientations in education policy, including the relationship between science, technology and natural sciences education, the validity of learning outcome assessment and regard to the professional development of teachers; the sharing of good practices, context-based teaching, research-based approaches and learner relevance.

The conference program included over ten keynote addresses and highlight presentations on the teaching of science and technology, delivered by internationally renowned researchers and experts. In addition, scores of papers were presented in specialized workshops focusing on aspects such as opportunities for the modernization of teaching and for raising the motivation of learners.

The last day of the conference was marked by the adoption of a declaration on education policy, which brought together recommendations of the conference for promoting and modernizing science education. “The declaration was transmitted through the channels of UNESCO and ICASE also to countries that are not represented at the conference,” explained the chief organizer of the conference, UT Professor of Science Education Miia Rannikmae. “The recommendations will help governments to gain an outsider’s view of the development of their countries and thereby decrease the possibility that some nations will be left out of the global transfer of knowledge,” Rannikmae added.

Among the keynote and highlight speakers were the chief architect of the PISA International Student Assessment Program Professor Rodger Bybee, Chief Coordinator of the NASA-funded Environmental Education Promotion Program GLOBE Teresa Kennedy, and leader of the Helsinki University Center of Excellence in Molecular and Integrative Neuroscience Research, Professor Mart Saarmaa.

The conference was opened by the Estonian Minister for Education and Research, Tonis Lukas. Conference participants included representatives from UNESCO’s Paris office, the president of the International Council of Associations of Science and Technology Education (ICASE) and representatives of foreign embassies to Estonia. The conference was closed by Ene Ergma, speaker of the Estonian parliament.

The main organizer of the 2010 World Conference on Science and Technology Education was the Center for Science Education of the Faculty of Science and Technology of the University of Tartu, in cooperation with the ICASE, the University of Tallinn, the Tallinn University of Technology and the associations of Estonian science teachers. The organizers also received support from the Estonian Ministry of Research and Education, the Archimedes Foundation, the Enterprise Estonia Foundation and others.

The conference welcomed everybody interested in the teaching of science and technology in a knowledge society, including researchers and civil servants working in the field, as well as university students and school teachers.