Universities and other scientific institutes are increasingly considered responsible for contributing to the public understanding of science and for communicating emerging scientific developments that are difficult to understand but highly relevant to the public. In this fast changing society, youngsters more than ever will need the ability to make informed decisions about important aspects of their lives and future. They will need to be able to make personal and social choices about their health, their privacy, and collectively, the functioning of society as a whole.
 
Several Dutch universities and related institutes have already opened their doors to invite members of the public, with specific emphasis on secondary schools, to participate in “open days” or educational programmes. Most of the (extra-curricular) educational modules are designed for pre-academic secondary education classes (higher educational levels). These science modules are generally not responsive to the needs of those with lower educational levels, while nearly 60% of Dutch secondary school students are in these so-called vocational tracks.
 
This unequal distribution of educational opportunities particularly pertaining to science can be explained by the fact that universities’ main focus is on attracting future students. This leaves a significant void in achieving the goal of “science for all” which is a core principle in the contribution to public understanding.
 
This paper will describe and discuss the design of a science module, which focuses on the relationship between food, health/sickness and nutrigenomics - and relates to learners in the vocational track. Furthermore we will describe how the iterative process between researchers in the field of science education/communication and nutrigenomics, and school teachers and vocational students, resulted in achieving the desired learning outcomes. In addition to understanding the basic concepts of nutrigenomics, the students were able to evaluate the personal relevance for their foreseeable future.
 
Stressing the objectives of “science for all” by specifically addressing the needs of vocational students, this paper provides guidelines for the potential and efficacy of universities to design science modules that could play a significant role in access to scientific literacy.
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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Science for all
Design of a science module for learners in lower educational levels

Tanja Klop   Delft University of Technology, research group Biotechnology and Society; Kluyver Centre for Genomics of Industrial Fermentation; Centre for Society and Genomics

Patricia Osseweijer   Delft University of Technology, research group Biotechnology and Society; Kluyver Centre for Genomics of Industrial Fermentation; Centre for Society and Genomics

Universities and other scientific institutes are increasingly considered responsible for contributing to the public understanding of science and for communicating emerging scientific developments that are difficult to understand but highly relevant to the public. In this fast changing society, youngsters more than ever will need the ability to make informed decisions about important aspects of their lives and future. They will need to be able to make personal and social choices about their health, their privacy, and collectively, the functioning of society as a whole.
 
Several Dutch universities and related institutes have already opened their doors to invite members of the public, with specific emphasis on secondary schools, to participate in “open days” or educational programmes. Most of the (extra-curricular) educational modules are designed for pre-academic secondary education classes (higher educational levels). These science modules are generally not responsive to the needs of those with lower educational levels, while nearly 60% of Dutch secondary school students are in these so-called vocational tracks.
 
This unequal distribution of educational opportunities particularly pertaining to science can be explained by the fact that universities’ main focus is on attracting future students. This leaves a significant void in achieving the goal of “science for all” which is a core principle in the contribution to public understanding.
 
This paper will describe and discuss the design of a science module, which focuses on the relationship between food, health/sickness and nutrigenomics - and relates to learners in the vocational track. Furthermore we will describe how the iterative process between researchers in the field of science education/communication and nutrigenomics, and school teachers and vocational students, resulted in achieving the desired learning outcomes. In addition to understanding the basic concepts of nutrigenomics, the students were able to evaluate the personal relevance for their foreseeable future.
 
Stressing the objectives of “science for all” by specifically addressing the needs of vocational students, this paper provides guidelines for the potential and efficacy of universities to design science modules that could play a significant role in access to scientific literacy.

A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.

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