Hands-on Science: Science in a changing Education
Education reforms have been effectuated or are under way in most of the European and other countries during the last years. Although the extent and the kind of the reforms vary significantly from one country to another, they all share as a common factor the increased significance of Science Education which becomes a major constituent of school curriculum, comparable to language and literature.
Work related to Science teaching which constitutes a major part of the contents of Science education has also attracted educators and researchers extending also into more general aspects such as the teaching approaches adopted, the underlying learning theories, the teaching means and the use of new technologies (especially informatics), and also, other parameters that may affect the effectiveness of Science Teaching.
Effectiveness however depends strongly on the objectives attributed to Science education an issue directly related to the reasons (cultural, utilitarian, personal development, social) Science is included in the school curriculum. Whatever the main emphasis may be, Science education is greatly based on practice work experimentation, construction, innovative application of 'known theory', inquiry, etc).
In this sense, practice work is essential to the understanding of Science and thus fundamental to Science and Technology literacy. As an increasing number of decisions is dependent upon Science and Technology developments, in order for the citizen of a democratic society to be able to participate on his (her) own he (she) not only should be S&T literate but also he (she) must have cognitive skills permitting decisions on incomplete knowledge, i.e. also in areas he (she) is not an expert. Science education provides a natural framework towards the development of such skills.
Within the above context, the Hands-on Science (Hsci) network, which is supported by the European Commission, organizes as one of its activities annual International Conferences. In Ljubljana, Slovenia, July 5 to 9, 2004, we organized a highly successful HSci 2004 Conference under the theme "Teaching and Learning Science in the XXI Century". The main theme of the HSci2005 International Conference, locally organized by the Laboratory for Science Teaching of the Department for Primary Education of the University of Crete, is "Science in a changing Education" and will take place in the University of Crete campus at Rethymno, Greece during 13-16 July 2005.
The H-Sci network exists to promote the development of Science education and scientific literacy. It encourages a generalized use of innovative hands-on experimental approaches to science and technology in-school teaching. In raising the profile and attractiveness of Science in Education, we aim also to increase the desirability of a career in Science for all.
As Coordinator of the Hands-on Science network it is my pleasure to invite and welcome you to the 2nd International Conference on "Hands-on Science. Science in a changing Education" in Rethymno, Greece, July 13 to 16, 2005.
Braga, Portugal, 17 November 2004.
Manuel Filipe Pereira da Cunha Martins Costa, (Chair)