The European Commission launches international projects to increase the attractiveness of the subjects such as Mathematics, Chemistry, Physics or Natural Sciences. The Horizon 2020 Newton project (Networked Labs for Training in Sciences and Technologies for Information and Communication) involves a Consortium consisting of 14 European partners. The Consortium comprises also a team of scientists of the STU Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Information Technology in Bratislava (FEI STU). (Website of the Newton project).
Press conference and open class in basic school - presentation of Newton project. (tasr).
"The project’s objective is preparation of teaching materials for the primary, secondary and tertiary school subjects such as Programming, ICT, Physics, Geography and Chemistry in particular. The multimedia platform enables students to learn through experience and practice; using multisensory technologies the students experience the physical or chemistry phenomena ‘on their own skin’," explains Professor Gregor Rozin of FEI STU.
Within the project, members of the Consortium are developing a multimedia platform for online learning in the near future. They use virtual, expanded and mixed reality to "transport" students across the world to the destinations they currently learn about; even to space, when learning about the solar system. The platform will familiarise learners with the study material via games, quizzes and practical assignments. The designed teaching materials are tested directly in the training centres and schools in the countries involved in the Project.
"In the group and individual interviews, the learners using the platform very positively appreciate the facts that they could work with new technology and that the study materials were attractive thanks to various applications based on 3D, virtual reality (VR) and animated virtual applications. They also appreciate innovative pedagogical approach and access to the apps and study materials from home. Learners better understand the study topics, since downloaded conventional texts are complemented by videos, VR applications and animated applications, "says Professor Pavol Podhradský of the STU Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Information Technology.
In Slovakia, the Platform is being piloted in several schools: in the primary school of Bratislava-Lamač within the subjects of Geography and Physics; in two secondary schools in Banská Bystrica within the courses of Geography and Network Technology; in the STU within the subject of Programming. The platform designed for learners with special needs is tested at the Barrier-free Centre of the Technical University of Košice. The Multimedia Platform for learners with special needs provides for e.g. the voice or gesture control and EEG signals.
"In general, students in Slovakia show less interest in the Natural Sciences subjects. This school therefore offers various experiences and other options to make those subjects more attractive for learners. We have entered various projects: Enviroproject, Tree of Life, We Enjoy Technology, etc.; there is a Chemistry optional course where students conduct experiments and demonstrate various physical and chemical phenomena. That is why we decided to cooperate with STU within the Newton project," said Mgr. Alena Petáková Head of the Primary School in Malokarpatské Sq., Bratislava–Lamač.
The European Commission emphasises transfer of the projects outcome into practice. Besides the university teams, NEWTON involves also business partners, e.g. Atos IT solutions from Slovakia.
The Newton project (see the related video about project) is part of the prestigious European Commission Horizon 2020 grant scheme. Within the scheme, the Slovak University of Technology in Bratislava ranges among the best universities in terms of the number of funded projects and the volume of the granted funding. By 31 December 2017, the STU staff submitted a total of 186 applications for the research projects funding, out of which 19 were approved for funding; 54 were rated above threshold, unfortunately, the funding ran out. The University Management financially motivates the scientists to engage in the international consortia, paying bonuses for both supported projects as well as the projects submitted within Horizon 2020 (More about STU involement in Horizon 2020).
Students working with the apps appriciate the outcomes of project. "I had not liked much about Physics before, but I enjoyed it with the games. In Geography, I loved the blind map most where we placed cities," says Matej. "I loved when we used virtual reality to visit the places we learned about. For example, we could walk across the Tower Bridge, which we can generally see only in the pictures," says Natalia.
Foto: Andrea Settey Hajdúchová, Matej Kováč