Connecting travelling scientists and schools

People involved: Liubov Tupikina

Keywords: science and education, society, complex network, online platform, multilayer system

Project Description

Education plays a key role in society as part of the economical, social and cultural spheres of our life. However, there are currently some issues with the educational system. According to UNESCO statistics, 1.9 million teachers are needed in classrooms around the world by 2015 – and this number keeps increasing as world population grows. The project I would like to develop x§at the CRI is based on the “SciEd network” project, which I started with some colleagues in 2017 during a teaching and traveling sabbatical in Nepal.  

The idea of the SciEd project is simple and can be summarized as follows. Scientists often travel to attend international conferences and workshops. There is an untapped opportunity for them to give free outreach-lectures in local schools and high-schools in potentially remote countries and improve the local exposure to Science. The idea is based on the observation that scientists are in general frequently moving around the world, and using the occasion to give lectures for children in local schools on inspiring topics can bridge a gap in the additional school education. In short, since we can’t bring children from around the world to the university hotspots, we adopt a reverse mechanisms to bring these hotspots around the world.

As such, SciEd gives the opportunity to provide schools with an exposure to inspiring, serious, yet, understandable research subjects and even small research projects in addition to their traditional curriculum, and to help children get interested in mathematics, physics, biology and other disciplines through insightful, concrete lectures on what working in those fields mean today. In addition, this project positively affects the teaching and outreach experience of scientists. In six months, the SciEd project has already involved more than 10 international schools from Nepal, India, Russia, France, Germany, Uruguay. Moreover, all registered online scientists actively dedicate their free time to build a sustainable network through open registration on the SciEd website. 

The overall goal of the SciEd project is to enrich the educational system with lectures from scientists, traveling around the world. In the long term I aim at building a sustainable system, meeting science and education, where scientists are giving outreach lectures, hence creating an additional layer in the educational system. In CRI I am going to work on a short term project, namely SciEd-CRI, where I will develop an online platform connecting scientists and schools, while making use of network analysis methods. Such a platform would allow one to collect, update and dynamically analyze the data.

This includes designing and configuring the online platform, including registration and data management for both networks of schools and and scientists. The main challenge of the project will be to capture the fundamental principles of a sustainable functioning of this system, as well as provide online and offline facilities for schools around the world to connect with scientists. As a first step, we will capitalize on existing data by making an extensive mining and analysis of how scientists travel, by collecting data from conference websites, i.e. EasyChair, or scientific networks, such as ResearchGate, search platforms, such as CouchSurfing, and applying methods of transportation networks in order to analyze them. The analysis methods for the project are based on the multilayer network analysis, dynamical multivariable network models. The application of both fundamental methods of network analysis and knowledge about the social networks dynamical laws will provide resources to build and coordinate a sustainable platform for SciEd-CRI and SciEd globally.