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of the NYEX Conference

on Science Education of Gifted Students

Petnica Science Center, Serbia, October 18-21, 2007

of the NYEX Conference 2007
of the NYEX Conference
on Science Education of Gifted
Petnica, October 18-21, 2007

Srdjan Verbić
Proceedings of the NYEX Conference on Science Education of Gifted Students
Petnica, October 18-21, 2007

Srdjan Verbić

ISBN 978-86-7861-039-4

Petnica Science Center,
POB 6, 14104 Valjevo, Serbia

Printed by:
Valjevoprint Co., Valjevo, Serbia

Printed in 2008 in 300 copies

Printing of this book is supported by the Ministry of

Science of the Republic of Serbia (November 2007)
We learn how to do things by doing
the things we are learning to do.
Diversity of out-of-schools is much greater than diversity of schools. Doesn’t matter
how unusual school is, it still has it’s location, building, staff, students, etc. For out-of-
schools, we simply can’t agree on the common ground and comprehensive definition of
organization for extracurricular education. Maybe, we shouldn’t even try. That structure
intending to unify organizations for extracurricular science education should take into
account different target groups, variety of aims, methods of work, and outcomes. What we
see the astounding diversity but also our inability to recognize how complex and big this
structure could be. The annual meeting of Network of Youth Excellence (NYEX) in
October 2007 was dedicated to the problem of mapping of already known parts of this
structure and discussing new ideas and practice. In order to do so, we have set three major
topics of the Conference:

1 Toward Successful National Policies that Support Young Talents in Science

2 Effects of Out-of-school Science Education
3 Professional Support for Young Talents in Science – Examples of Good Practice.

Network of Youth Excellence has the open architecture which could fulfill all the
requirements. NYEX could become the operative structure we are seeking for decades.
Question how to make this network more efficient and practical remains for the following
The host of the NYEX 2007 annual meeting was Petnica Science Center, the biggest
and probably the oldest independent organization for out-of-school science education in
South-Eastern Europe. This conference was remarkable opportunity to celebrate Petnica’s
25 anniversary among colleagues who really appreciate this accomplishment.

In Petnica, October 2007

Host of NYEX 2007 Annual Meeting:
Petnica Science Center
For more than 25 years there is a place in Western Serbia where one can find a number
of talented and motivated girls and boys from many countries who gather to enjoy in
creative science training far different from anything they can experience in their
regular schools. This unique independent organization had survived terrible
turbulences and crises which happened on the Balkans keeping and carefully
developing complex camps and training programs in a broad scope of sciences,
technologies and humanities.
Petnica Science Center (PSC) is a regional parallel-to-school institution aimed
at cutting-edge, extracurricular science education of students with extraordinary
aptitude for science and research in wide spectrum of sciences and technologies.
With 4000 sq. meters of modern classrooms, labs, and library space, and more
than 1,000 guest teachers selected from among the best scientists, each year PSC offers
more than 130 different courses, workshops, conferences, and science camps to
schools, students, and teachers. The students are carefully selected from among 500
high schools throughout Serbia, as well as from nearby countries.
Through carefully designed programs, Petnica Science Center covers a wide
spectrum of subjects: from astronomy and physics to biology and chemistry; from
archaeology and linguistics to computer science and electronics; from mathematics
and psychology to geology and anthropology. In place of traditional subject-oriented
science education, integral and problem-oriented education is emphasized. PSC
encourages students to think more and to rely on their knowledge, skills and
experience of the world as a whole, in order to participate actively in education
Not only does it teach students, the Petnica Science Center also assists
schools and teachers to improve science education by using new teaching tools and
methods, modern science concepts and knowledge, extracurricular activities, and
recognizing gifted and talented students. Using its widespread contacts and
relationships, the PSC searches for interesting ideas and experiences to implement.
Moreover, through carefully designed teacher training courses and workshops, it tries
to help in rapid development of more effective, flexible and student-centered education
The Petnica Science Center is unique educational NGO in Serbia founded to
help and support young people who demonstrate an interest in the sciences that goes
beyond regular school curricula. Most of the activities are designed for secondary-
school students (ages 14-20), but there also is a variety of programs for elementary
school students, college undergraduates, graduate students, and school teachers. PSC
has gained recognition for its innovative methods in science education, as well as for
significant advances in identifying and educating gifted children and students.
With no marks, no rigid discipline, with flexible innovative programs,
interactive teaching, modern equipment, with no regional or national limits for
students, open to supporting students’ research projects, with a young staff (avg. age is
under 30), and a thousand enthusiastic scientists and teachers, Petnica Center is not

only the heart of Serbian alternative education, but is one of a top popular happy
places for young people.
Petnica Science Center is not just an experiment in education, but a form of
development of alternative thinking and cooperation that can help in changing the
future of Serbia and SE Europe, by stimulating the most promising young people to
use up-to-date global knowledge, to be tolerant, communicative and flexible, able to
see, describe and solve various range of problems and challenges.
Petnica Science Center (PSC) was founded in 1982 by a group of young
students and teachers as a kind of a field school and a "meeting point" for young
people highly interested in science. It was the first truly non-governmental educational
organization in former Yugoslavia. In spite of the complex political and economic
situation in the country and thanks to the support of local government, schools,
universities, and industry, the PSC has become a real center for promotion science
education in the country, and has became a well known institution worldwide.
During these 25 years, more than 40,000 students and 6,000 teachers, visiting
instructors, and scientists participated in almost 2,500 camps and courses in Petnica.
Covering almost 500 schools, with thousands of professional scientists and
university professors who volunteer by giving lectures or conducting discussions and
experiments with hundreds of the best students every year, PSC represents one of a
few spontaneously generated institutions in the world that promotes new methods and
future technology in education.
Today, PSC is well known among students almost everywhere in the country,
even in small provincial schools. The students, participants and alumni are the most
important supporters and critics of the entire program and development of PSC. This
relationship is a guarantee of the continuation of this vivid and promising idea.
The Center is located in Petnica, a village about 7 km (4 miles) east of
Valjevo (W. Serbia), 70 km (40 miles) SW of Belgrade. The place was selected
because of its natural attributes and its suitability for performing various practical and
out-of-door activities. Valjevo is a city with a attractive position and traffic
connections (see the map). The railroad connects it with Belgrade, Montenegro and the
Adriatic coast.

What makes the Petnica region famous is the Petnica Cave. This cave had
considerable influence on early human settlements in the area. It is composed of
complex underground canals, spacious halls, stalactites, stalagmites, an underground
river and lake, and rare plants and animal life. It is also a rich paleontological and
archaeological site. Adjacent to the cave is the archaeological site of an excavated
Neolithic village with a culture more than 7,000 years old.
Only four kilometers SW from Petnica is the Gradac River which has been
placed under special protection because of its beauty and preserved nature, a number
of caves, diverse flora and fauna, and clean, potable water.
On the south and southwest, Petnica is surrounded by the Valjevo mountain
chain (1,000-1,400 m) covered with dense forests, meadows, and numerous rivers and
A rich, diverse and abundant vegetation and animal wildlife, strange geological
formations, cultural and historical monuments, villages with rich traditions and the
proximity of Valjevo – the major industrial and commercial center of the region, make
Petnica the most preferred for implementation of innovative approaches to modern

Educational programs in Petnica are not linked with school curriculum and
common models of school teaching. Targeting students of 14-20 years of age (grade 7-
12/13), educational activities in Petnica cover a wide spectrum of fields of sciences,
humanities, and technologies. In the course of each and every Petnica program,
reasoning and observation skills, data collecting techniques, argumentation and
communication skills are developed. PSC encourages participants to think free, to co-
operate with partners from different regions and cultural background. More than 1,000
scientists, engineers, educators, and managers from Serbia and abroad, are included in
designing such programs. Today it is one of the biggest system in SE Europe for
recruitment of young people with an aptitude in reasoning skills. The main goals of
this program are:
 to identify gifted secondary-school and university students from all parts of
country, especially from provincial and poor regions and give them intensive
individualized extracurricular education;
 to enable the best students to do scientific projects based on real problems and
carried out on professional scientific equipment and under the supervision of
the best scientists and science teachers;
 to instruct young science teachers on how to apply up-to-date scientific
concepts, knowledge and educational methods;
 to initiate cooperation and exchange of knowledge, expriences and ideas
among undergraduates and graduates who study at different universities and
different programs;
 to establish rich international and intercultural contacts and cooperation
among young people, students, and teachers.

Petnica Science Center, like no other similar institution in Eastern Europe, is

focused on some specific areas of innovative education, such as:

 FLEXIBLE INDIVIDUALIZED EDUCATION designed to fulfill individual
needs, talents and capabilities of each student,
 INNOVATIVE EDUCATION that transfers actual scientific discoveries,
theories & problems into a comprehensive curriculum and better teaching
 EQUAL OPPORTUNITY EDUCATION that makes no distinction between
genders, different social, ethnic, or religion groups,
 EDUCATION FOR THE GLOBAL COMMUNITY that increases students’
mutual understanding, tolerance, friendship, and respect for diversity;
education that avoids conflicts among groups or individuals; education
against political extremism, intolerance, xenophobia, racism, and violence,
 STUDENTS' PARTICIPATION in creation and implementation of the
 EDUCATION FOR THE FUTURE that prepares students to recognize the
power, opportunity, and risks of modern science and technologies, and to
think more about the future,
 BI-DIRECTIONAL EDUCATION where teachers increase their knowledge
and experience in continual interaction with inquisitive and motivated
students, and where each student has a chance to teach other students in the
field where he/she has better knowledge.

In spite of the social, economic, and political situation in the country and in
the region, Petnica Science Center is an island of optimism where a young staff,
supported by many enthusiastic scientists, try to cultivate a belief in intellectual values
among young people, teaching them to keep their eyes and minds open to new ideas,
experiences, and communication with young thinkers worldwide.

On the other hand, the PSC staff – young enthusiastic educators, educate
themselves by living and working with bright students, talking with them, discussing
each new problem, method or topic. With no preconceptions and no pre-established
model, PSC has become a flexible, future-oriented project with tremendous influence
not only on teaching practices in schools, but on the entire evolution of science,
technology, and social development of the country and the entire Balkans.
In addition to guest teachers and lecturers who are famous scientists, university
professors and prominent researchers, every year there are more than 200 "junior
associates" – university students and Petnica alumni, who play an important role in the
PSC's educational environment. It is up to them to solve the problem of the
"generation gap" and to establish the best possible communication with the teenagers.
These junior associates are among the best undergraduates and young scientists. They
are the "fresh blood" that makes PSC programs dynamic and lively.
The topics of PSC courses and workshops are based on the idea of the unity
and integrity of science as such – they avoid any unnecessary compartmentalization of
the field of scientific inquiry. Topics and problems are discussed at the PSC in a
complex educational network that includes many scientists, where each student has an
opportunity to find his/her place, to adopt novel perspectives, to become aware of real
scientific problems, and to present his/her own ideas or experience.
Training programs for teachers are a very important part of the PSC activity.
More than 500 schools are linked with the Petnica Center. Many teachers (not only of
the sciences, but also of languages, art, school psychologists, etc.), especially the
young ones, show interest in keeping up with new trends and methods in education,
new problems and ideas, and with new domestic and foreign literature and teaching
resources. Teacher training programs do not always take the form of special courses
and workshops. Sometimes, teachers are invited to participate in the design and
implementation of certain student projects and activities. This type of individual
experience could be transferred to their regular school practice.
Petnica Science Center is an independent nonprofit and non-governmental
organization. Its main goal is to help schools in the advancing of science education,
but particularly, to help gifted and bright young people to keep and strengthen their
love and orientation toward sciences. In this mission, PSC has broad based cooperation
with hundreds of institutions, universities, schools, and more than 1,400 scientists and
In addition to the director and staff, there are two important bodies
responsible for the strategic development of the PSC, fundraising, and the relation with
the national educational administration. The Advisory Council consists of 22 eminent
scientists and it analyzes and evaluates the educational programs and new initiatives.
The Executive Board consists of scientists, representatives from the main funding
sources, and representatives of the PSC's faculty. It’s job to solve practical (tactical)
problems of protecting the independent position of the PSC and to provide enough
money and equipment for modern science education programs.
For each main teaching subject or science field there is a special committee
consisted of 7-15 professional scientists and teachers. The role of this body is to
discuss the structure of specific educational programs, to suggest teaching subjects,
topics, and lecturers, and to evaluate the results and outputs of these programs.
Petnica Science Center has relatively good facilities, both boarding and
educational, to accommodate students enrolled in the programs all year round. The
Center has seven buildings (4,000 sqm) which serve various purposes.
The dormitory has 100 beds for students in 4 and 6-bed rooms and several
apartments for teachers and guest lecturers. The restaurant serves all living in students.
There are classrooms, laboratories for biology, geology, physics, chemistry,
electronics, astronomy, optics, and archaeology, a modern computer classroom, and a
central library with scientific literature (40,000 books and journals). There are
hundreds of movies and about half a million slides, most of which are on digital media
which allow quick and reliable viewing. The library is the center of many educational
and other activities, considering the fact that PSC pays attention to directing young
people to use various information sources. Students and the staff have free access to a
number of computers linked with the Internet and powerful Intranet services.
The fact that most of the equipment is used both for professional scientific
work on some of the projects which PSC is pursuing simultaneously with its
educational programs, enables the students to study real scientific processes and even
to be involved in them, facing all practical problems and difficulties. Through
carefully designed projects students are in the rare position to "experience science".
Therefore, PSC can be described as a "scientific environment" i.e. a special ambient
where young people are surrounded by scientific literature and instruments, live
research activities, and advised by professional scientists. Moreover, this environment
promotes a valuable interaction among young people of similar talents, interests and
problems. This illustrates one unique and valuable aspect of education in Petnica –
learning through research.

of the NYEX Conference 2007

Section 1: Toward Successful National Policies that Support Young

Talents in Science
Act Carefully with the Gifted
Vigor Majić 3
Developing Science Talent at Specialized Public High Schools
Rena F. Subotnik and Edward W. Crowe 9
Youth, Science and Engineering
Thomas Wendt, Peter Gilbert, Jens Hemmelskamp,
Manuela Welzel and Charlotte Schulze 19
Section 2: Effects of Out-of-school Science Education
The Impact of International Youth Science Camp in University Research
Laboratory on the Development of Academic Career
Ayelet Koper, Doron Edelding, Muli Dotan, Revital Jallif
and Shimon Gepstein 25
Extra-curricular scientific educational programs in developing expert
Zora Krnjaić 35
Even gifted students can not see the wood for the trees
Srdjan Verbić 39
Challenging gifted adolescents in international summer academies
Harald Wagner and Volker Brandt 45
Section 3: Professional Support for Young Talents in Science –
Examples of Good Practice
Summer Science Factory – an Alternative Approach to Science
Darja Dubravčić and Tamara Milošević 57
“I Love Biochemistry”: More Than Ten Years On
Josep M. Fernández-Novell and Joan J. Guinovart 67
CusMiBio: an opportunity for talented young people in biosciences
Cinzia Grazioli, Paolo Plevani, Maria Luisa Tenchini
and Giovanna Viale 73
Badatel – Czech Project for the Cooperation of the High-School Students
and University Experts
Martin Kubala 79
Your meeting with the Science at the Science Festival School
Joanna Lilpop 83
Think Globally, Act Locally – The Case for New Approaches to Science
Daniel Mietchen, Henry Roman, Rehana Jauhangeer,
Steven Mansour, Gaëll Mainguy and Ravinder Bhatia 87
XLAB – an Offensive in Science Education
Eva-Maria Neher 93
Adults, The Neglected Science-Deficient Sector
Zvi Paltiel 99
Science camp of Archaeology
Tamás Révész and Csaba Böde 105
STaN and Gifted Children Education: Experience, Policy, Plans,
Eva Vondráková and Martina Palková 109
Section 4: Contributions to Gifted Science Education
What kind of science communication do we really need? The case of
science café
Michael S. Arvanitis 117
The Geographic distribution of the young talents in Albania
Sokol Axhemi 121
Fractal intelligence development The “David Star” Model
Florian Colceag 129
Quagmires and Quandaries: Ethical Uncertainties in Scientific Research
Peggy Connolly 133
Training of Creativity: Theoretical and Practical Aspects
Daiva Grakauskaitė Karkockienė 145
Equity in Educational Outcomes in Serbia: Recent Findings and Expected
Dragica Pavlović Babić 151
Training of pedagogy specialists to work with gifted children within the
Bachelor’s and the Master’s degree levels
Dobrinka Todorina 155
Developing students’ creative processes in extracurricular activities by the
means of Internet
Lilyana Todorova and Boryana Ivanova 161
Author index 167

Toward Successful National Policies that

Support Young Talents in Science
Act Carefully with the Gifted
Vigor MAJIĆ1
Petnica Science Center, Serbia

Abstract. Each new government in Serbia starts their mandate with loud promises of
improvements of everything, including support for gifted students. In many cases
such support is just verbal or limited with too many regulations. In this paper we
discuss the efficiency of “blind governmental supporting schemes”, i.e. declarative
programs that do not respect individual differences of gifted young people. Such
projects could become counter-productive. We also question whether typical school-
based programs for the gifted based on pre-selection and test-guided identification
are fair, keeping in mind that teenagers’ motivation and focus of interest are fluid and
changeable. Politicians and school-teachers are not the only ones guilty for the
“misuse of gifted students”, there are also the students’ parents. When local economy
is in a crisis and the political situation is unstable, some parents are ready to do
anything to promote their child as “gifted”, including things that will do more harm
than help to the child. In addition, the “open door” model applied in Petnica Center is
presented, a model where students are always free to participate or to cancel
participation in one or many different programs, changing their area of activity.
Petnica Center has certain basic principles that respect students’ privacy and freedom
to change their mind. Some of the core rules are: the voluntary principle (no pressure
from outside; the student may be included in activities only when she/he wishes to do
so), the principle of free choice (students can apply for any available activity and
change it any time), the principle of equal opportunity, the principle of safety, the
principle of objective evaluation, and the principle of broad development (protecting
teenagers from narrow specialization and offering both scientific and non-scientific
activities). Respecting individual differences, activities of gradual complexity,
difficulty, and demands are offered, and the student takes part in them up to her/his
level of ability or motivation. The author believes that similar principles must be
respected in public schools instead of pressuring the most successful students to
participate in too many competitions and olympiads, just so they will bring glory to
their school and country.

In many countries worldwide one can find policies and projects of various levels where
gifted and talented young scientists, athletes or artists are in specific focus. Supporting
gifted youth is very popular phrase among politicians because it shows their vision of
country development as well as their feelings that the young generation is a key factor in
such development. Of course, deeper reasons are in many cases in simple promotion
among young voters or among teenagers’ parents or school teachers. These three
categories of people are significant part of potential voters and, if we assume that every
normal boy or girl believes that he or she is talented in some, mostly not yet recognized
field, and the majority of parents want to believe that just their child is hidden genius,
political importance of talking about the role of gifted young people is absolutely clear.
From time to time, especially during preparation for new elections, some of politicians do
something to show that she or he keeps promises. In many cases such „direct actions“ are
superficial acts without serious concern to improve existing educational system or to really
help talented youth.

Corresponding author: Vigor Majić, Petnica Science Center, P.O. Box 6, 14104
Valjevo, Serbia; E-mail: vigor@psc.ac.yu.

In Serbia and in the many countries in Central, East and SE Europe the situation
is just like this model. There are many empty declarations, promised projects, funds, or
announced improvements, but the reality stays almost unchanged.
Here we would like to discuss the problem of the efficiency of “blind
governmental supporting schemes”, i.e. declarative programs that do not respect individual
differences and needs of gifted young people.
One of typical and frequent mistakes made by many schools and governmental
programmes is narrowing the fields/areas where young people can express their qualities
to a relatively small number of disciplines or school subjects where ranking students could
be made easily, e.g. through contests or competitions mostly based on memorizing
curricular matter, or in the form of sport competitions, or musical performances. In many
cases such activities do not respect students’ creativity, fresh ideas, or knowledge or skills
acquired through extracurricular or home-based individual effort. For educational
authorities it is the easiest proof of their dedication to gifted support to make relatively
small number of competitions based on formal knowledge and existing school subjects.
The fact is that in a number of countries we have regular competitions in mathematics,
physics, sport, language, and in simple performing music. The cases where students can
present their innovative, maybe just naive ideas, projects, research, or problems are rare.
Even more rare are regions or countries where students can show their qualities in fields
like earth science, astronomy, humanities, health sciences, creative art, or engineering. The
main consequence of such narrow programme offering is that many areas of potential
talents stay hidden. Successful students in existing subjects of competitions are awarded
and promoted but others, maybe even more gifted, are invisible.
The other problem we did recognize here is pre-selection. A great number of
school-teachers believe that the giftedness is a permanent quality, something that is „given
by nature“, so the first step must be to identify this quality using some simple and available
instruments such as knowledge tests or IQ tests. In many cases school administration
requires that at the beginning of the academic year teachers must announce the scope of
their curricular or extracurricular activities with gifted students and it does mean that they
must somehow count the number of gifted students. We question whether typical school-
based programs for the gifted based on pre-selection and test-guided identification are fair,
keeping in mind that teenagers’ motivation and focus of interest are fluid and changeable.
The next problem is labeling. When teachers apply some form of selection of
students, they necessarily label gifted students. If some students are labeled as „gifted“ it
implicitly means that other students are labeled as „non-gifted“. There are no doubts that
students labeled as „non-gifted“ will loose a part of their motivation to fulfill their needs
and interests even in case that they are in some way gifted or highly motivated. Moreover,
labeling can make disastrous effects on students’ interpersonal relations and social life. It
can also increase expectations and requirements among teachers, parents, even local
society, above the threshold of students’ real abilities or just their normal level of
motivation causing psychological problems such as stress, anxiety, introversion, conflict
behavior, etc. However, in society (or within cultural environment) where individual
competitive behavior is strictly recognized and permanently developed through education,
labeling could be positive as a form of social promotion and motivation stimulus. In other
societies where collective spirit is accented, effects of labeling is opposite. Anyway,
labeling is very sensitive instrument of supporting and promotion of gifted people which
must be used carefully keeping in mind not just personal qualities of individual student,
but also local cultural environment, existing social networks between students, and
parents’ readyness to take responsibility to possible side-effects.

The final problem we shall discuss here is rigidity. In many schools both
teaching and extracurricular activities must be planned and shaped at the beginning of the
school year and teachers have certain difficulties to change the scope and the form of
activities while these programmes are running. Moreover, it could be difficult to answer
students needs and wishes for extracurricular activities if they are not clearly covered by
existing teaching subjects, existing school facilities, or existing profile of teachers. If
students needs, feelings, and area of interest are changeable, rigid programmes hardly can
match students expectations. The weak point of many existing „gifted teaching sets“ or
similar available curricular material is that they are designed for an „ideal student“ who, of
course, does not exist.
Here we must accent that these problems do not occur (not in such extreme
levels) in the majority of existing gifted training programmes in sport or in the field of art
where also we can find a number of well developed gifted education camps or
extracurricular classes. Although we did not try to study that area, it is possible that the
main reason for such difference lays in the fact that in sport or art education teacher or
trainer can easy see whether student can solve requested value of skill and quickly respond
with individually shaped exercises. Quick checkable achievements are not possible in
many forms of gifted training in Science, especially where complex skills and time
consuming individual or team project-based work is dominant. Anyway, sport and art
training have longer tradition; these activities are better developed with many good
professionals with great experience. Science teachers and science camps trainers have to
learn from their colleagues in sport or art. There are many things where they can find
interesting answers, methods, or ideas if they are ready to communicate and collaborate
with art or sport trainers.
In order to help in improvement of existing practice in gifted education, the
Petnica Center has decided to develop an alternative model based on a set of carefully
shaped principles that now are incorporated in design of the majority of existing science
training programmes.
The first is the „open door“ principle. Here, students are free to participate or to
cancel participation in one or many different programs, changing their area of activity and
stay engaged in the training programme at the level they are ready to do or they wish to do.
On diagram bellow we can see the flow chart with improved network based on
the „open door“ principle. Looking at the interconnections (small arrows) between training
activities and science camps one can see that participants can change subjects (science
fields) in many ways. The most typical is the case when student interested in Biology,
decides to attend project design course or technical training course in instrumentation
techniques in Chemistry because he or she discovers that certain chemical methods are
essential for his/her project. Of course, it is possible between all regular training courses in
Petnica Center. After attending annual cycle consisting several complementary courses
and camps, student can apply for the same or different profile of courses in the following
year (loop or ). It can be done without need to attend all programmes (loop ). Some
students who show excellent results can avoid selection procedure and apply directly (loop
). Students who would like to continue research projects can do it without need to attend
all parts of training (loop ). Moreover, students are also free to make a team of
participants of different science profiles in order to „attack“ more complex project.

Some other principles are also introduced in order to improve students’ position
and quality of offered programmes. Among them is the „voluntary principle“ i.e. there is
no pressure from outside – student may be included in activities only when she/he wishes
to do it. It means that each participant is requested to explicitly apply; parents or teachers
can not apply in behalf of students. It also understands that taking part in Petnica Center’s
training programmes or science camps cannot be part of students’ regular school
obligations – it must be a result of students’ free will, free choice and, consequently, there
are no awards for such participation (no diploma, no certificate) except internal award
through enriched knowledge and experience or in completed and presented science paper.
The principle of equal opportunity assures that application and selection
procedures cannot be influenced by student’s quality other than motivation, knowledge,
and will to take part in the offered programme. So, gender, ethnical background, social
position of parents, cultural affiliation, etc. cannot influence participants’ selection or,
later, their personal roles and position in training programmes, courses, or science camps.
In countries like Serbia where we can recognize huge social stratification, sensitive
multicultural and multiconfessional society, this principle is extremely important.

The principle of safety requires that any training activity or students’ science
projects must be designed respecting participants safety above all. It is extremely
important keeping in mind very complex demands including various profiles of laboratory
work, field activities, manipulation with chemicals, electrical instruments, experimental
animals, etc. This principle is not focused only on students’ safety, but also on
environmental safety and some other specific safety areas (problem of cultural impact in
Anthropology, heritage protection in Archaeology, animal protection, etc.).
The principle of broad development protects teenagers from narrow
specialization in order to improve their knowledge and experience in a broad spectrum of
fields. This principle encourages teaching staff and other people involved in design of
training programmes to enrich programmes with activities from other scientific and non-
scientific areas. It also emphasizes the need of balancing both scientific and non-scientific
activities such as cultural and social activities in design of science camps and other types
of training programmes.
The Petnica Science Center accepted these principles many years ago (mid
nineties) and gradually increase their importance in fifteen existing science subjects.
Although there is no completed study of effects of these principles on the quality of
educational programmes and on students’ satisfaction, at this moment we can say that
direct effects of implementation of these principles is visible. There are just three facts that
can illustrate efects. First, about 30% of teenagers who participate at Petnica Center’s
educational programmes for more than one year changed the science field at least once.
Second, now we have more girls than boys not just in humanities, but also in „hard
science“ areas, such as Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics. Finally, according to
evaluation data from 2007, about 80% of participants explicitly say that the freedom to
change field of interest is among the top qualities that separate Petnica Center from other
academic programmes they experienced in school or through extracurricular activities

In order to summarize the effects of applying a set of new principles in design of science
education programmes for gifted students, we can say that, respecting individual
differences, activities of gradual complexity, difficulty, and demands are offered, and the
student takes part in them up to her/his level of ability or motivation. Both teaching staff
and students have accepted these principles and now they are included in standard
procedures of design and conducting training activities. The author believes that similar
principles must be respected in public schools and in many types of out-of-school

Developing Science Talent at Specialized
Public High Schools
Rena F. SUBOTNIK1 and Edward W. CROWE
Center for Psychology in Schools and Education, American Psychological Association
Bench Group LLC (an education consultancy)

Abstract. The goal of this project is to develop and employ a set of field tested
survey instruments designed to analyze the current status of graduates from
specialized public high schools of science. The surveys will be tested at one primary
site and among additional sites (secondary pilot sites) selected from the National
Consortium for Specialized Secondary Schools of Mathematics, Science and
Technology (NCSSSMST). Following a successful pilot, scale up data will be
collected from graduates of a wider array of Consortium schools. We anticipate that
the data base and analyses resulting from the scale up study will (1) provide insights
into the contributions made by specialized schools to the science innovation pipeline
and to science literacy in advanced professions; and, for the first time, (2) inform the
establishment of new specialized science schools as well as the formulation of other
science education related policy in the United States.

Keywords. talent, pipeline, specialized high schools


The first section of this chapter reviews the rationale for a project exploring the status of
graduates of specialized science high schools in light of national initiatives. The second
part of the chapter includes a description of the project design..

1. Rationale for the Project

1.1 Current Mechanisms for Supporting Adolescents Talented in Science

In recent years, U.S. efforts to promote programs that target adolescent talent in science
lost traction because primary attention was focused on shoring up the academic needs of
students with weak skills. More recently, however, both public and private sectors are
recognizing that if the U.S. wants to keep its competitive edge in technological and
scientific endeavors, the nation must engage, encourage and develop the talents of
adolescents with demonstrated interests in science. Further, evidence based on
biographical and longitudinal data and expert opinion suggests that adolescents with
interests and talents in science are more likely to pursue science in post secondary
environments when provided during their pre-college years with challenging curricula,
expert instruction, and peer stimulation [1,2,3].

Corresponding Author: Rena F. Subotnik, Center for Psychology in Schools and
Education, Education Directorate, American Psychological Association, 750 First
Street NE, Washington DC, 20002-4242, USA; E-mail: rsubotnik@apa.org.

1.2 Federal Commitments in the U.S.
PhD and post-doctoral level talent development in science is widely supported by federal
agencies. Selection to programs is rigorous, top students usually have access to
outstanding mentors and equipment, and funding is generous. At the university level,
funding is available as well and is channeled into preventing attrition from science majors.
At the pre-university level, however, only three federal programs are directed at rewarding
or providing services for students with special interests and abilities in science: (1) the
Academic Competitiveness Grants program offers university scholarships to economically
disadvantaged students who take rigorous science courses in secondary school; (2) the
Advanced Placement Incentive Program supports examination fees associated with
rigorous, elective secondary courses; and (3) the Javits Grants program, which promotes
experimental curricula designed to challenge under-represented groups (i.e. African
Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, and females) in science and other
academic subjects [4].

1.3 State and Local Initiatives

Fourteen states have developed public residential science high schools to serve talented
adolescents in their respective states. In addition, large metropolitan areas such as New
York and Washington DC have organized specialized science high schools, some with
long traditions such as Stuyvesant High School and the Bronx High School of Science
established in 1904 and 1938 respectively, and more recent arrivals (both in 1985) such as
Thomas Jefferson and Montgomery Blair in the Washington DC metropolitan area. The
entire spectrum of schools, old and new, residential and commuter, full time or part time,
and schools within schools, belong to a consortium called National Consortium for
Specialized Schools of Science, Mathematics and Technology (NCSSSMST).

1.4 Current Status and Burgeoning Activities

Each year, states and districts add new specialized high schools to their systems.
Currently, there are 106 member schools in the NCSSSMST, 20 high schools opened
during the 2005-2006 school year and another 12 are proposed for 2007-2008[5]. Further,
in response to key reports such as Rising Above the Gathering Storm [6], the U.S.
Congress has been actively promoting legislation to improve the nation’s competitiveness
through funding to seed additional specialized high schools. Given that no data based
evidence about outcomes currently exists for new science schools to employ in planning
these new efforts, the project described in this chapter would provide an invaluable tool for
specialized schools preparing to open in the coming years.

1.5 Potential Role of Specialized High Schools in the Science Pipeline

Rising Above the Gathering Storm [6], produced by the National Academy of Sciences in
2006, makes four relevant recommendations regarding the United States’ economic future:
(1) increase America's talent pool by improving kindergarten through grade 12 science
education; (2) strengthen the federal commitment to long-term basic research; (3) develop
and retain the best students; and (4) modernize the patent system and realign tax policies to
encourage private investment in research and development. The report reinforces the role
that education plays in supporting U.S. science initiatives and takes note of the fact that
specialized schools are known for immersing students in high quality science education.

1.6 Evidentiary Base

Although considerable anecdotal data exist about graduates with stellar careers and high
numbers of students admitted to outstanding universities and colleges, evidence to support
beliefs about the effectiveness of specialized high schools has yet to be collected. With few
exceptions, there is a paucity of well-defined program outcomes and little empirical
evidence that specialized science high school programs are effective, although a lot of
intuitive and anecdotal evidence points to the success of graduates. That is to say, we do
not know from the current state of the literature whether those who are selected and
participate in specialized schools are those who may be future innovators in science.
Several of the Consortium schools, most prominently, the Illinois Mathematics
and Science Academy, have started systematic data collection efforts aimed at informing
program development and policy recommendations. For this reason, the Illinois
Mathematics and Science Academy was selected as the primary pilot site for the study
described in this chapter.
The Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy and the NCSSSMST Board have
agreed to contribute their experience and expertise to our efforts at developing (1) high
quality survey instruments to target their graduates, (2) scientifically based methods of
survey distribution and solicitation of graduates, and (3) rigorous data analysis to assess
the degree to which the schools contribute to innovation in the science enterprise and meet
the missions of individual Consortium schools.

2. Outcomes and Measures of Proposed Study

The study of selected cohorts of graduates will provide insights into the role specialized
schools play in filling the science innovation pipeline. From these data, researchers and
policymakers will be able to determine with reliable evidence the effectiveness of the
programs as well as whether the selection processes employed by participating schools
identify those students who can benefit maximally from specialized pre-collegiate science
training and instruction.
A set of field tested instruments and infrastructure for use in a scale up national
scientific study of those instruments would promote the twin goals of assessing the impact
of specialized high schools on the science innovation pipeline and providing useful data
for new schools to employ in designing their programs. An immediate challenge for the
research team will be to identify desirable and measurable outcomes for participants of
specialized schools at various key points in time after graduation
In order to arrive at consensus on study outcomes, the research team and primary
site team will together consider outcomes included in existing national databases, national
reports on American competitiveness, specialized high school mission statements, and the
empirical literature on talent development in science. From these resources and
discussions, the project group will identify a set of measurable outcomes that will be the
focus of the pilot survey. We anticipate completing this component of the project within
the first four months of the project period.

3. Research Study Design

The first step of the project, the pilot study, focuses on a multi-cohort study of specialized
science high school graduates at four institutions. It is designed to (1) develop relevant
outcomes to be measured and analyzed as dependent variables in the research study; (2)
construct and administer a survey instrument to graduates of the four participating
specialized high schools; and (3) draw on results of this four-site pilot to refine the data
collection instruments and research questions in preparation for scale up data collection
with members of the Consortium for Specialized Secondary Schools of Science,
Mathematics, and Technology (NCSSSMST).
One mechanism for determining the effectiveness of the specialized high school
experience is to compare outcomes with those achieved by a comparison group of equally
talented students who did not attend a specialized school. The comparison sample will be
drawn from the Midwest Academic Talent Search. Admission to specialized high schools
involves submitting similar cut off scores on standardized tests as those used to participate
in the Midwest Academic Talent Search. Talent Search participants who have indicated in
early adolescence that they are interested in science careers yet have not attended
specialized high schools will be selected to participate as members of the comparison
Given the current state of knowledge in the field, the dependent variable outcome
measures must be defined in the first phase of the study, permitting investigation of four
research questions – Are specialized science high school graduates: (1) more likely than
the comparison group controlled for age and equivalent measured ability to major in a
science-discipline as undergraduates in college; (2) more likely to obtain a bachelor’s
degree in a science field than members of the comparison group; (3) more likely than the
comparison group to enter science occupations and professions; and (4) more likely to be
science innovators? The key independent variable is whether students graduated from one
of the 4 sites participating in the study. A sub-variable will look at the organizational
structure of the specialized school: two sites are residential high schools, and two are
commuter schools-within-a-school. The project will also collect data on covariates such as
gender and ethnicity.

3.1 Study sites

Based on information provided by the schools that have agreed to participate in the project,
the total number of graduates across all cohorts and all schools is approximately 3500.
• Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (IMSA) – a residential public high
school drawing students from the entire state of Illinois graduates approximately
200 students/year.
• Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences, and the Arts (ASMSA)– a
residential public high school drawing students from the entire state of Arkansas
graduates approximately 100 students/year
• Montgomery Blair (MB) – a school attended by top students in one highly
populated school district to a special school housed within a regular public school
graduates approximately 100 students/year.

• Liberal Arts and Science Academy (LASA) - a school attended by top students in
one highly populated school district to a special school housed within a regular
public school graduates approximately 200 students/year.
The comparison site—Midwest Academic Talent Search – will identify 300
participants per year for all four cohorts, none attending or graduating from a specialized
high school. Midwest Academic Talent Search (MATS) is a program of the Center for
Talent Development (CTD) at Northwestern University that offers above-grade-level
testing for academically talented students in grades 3-9. MATS has been serving students
in the Midwest and beyond since 1981. Every year, nearly 31,000 students use MATS to
help them test their abilities and plan their educational future. An extensive research
program conducted by CTD follows participants over time for purposes of research and

3.2 Study Method

Multiple cohort studies give us insights into prediction and opportunities to analyze
obstacles to talent development more efficiently than longitudinal studies. Therefore,
selected cohorts will represent key points in time in the talent development process
-Graduates 3 years out (committing to majors)
-Graduates 5 years out (completing majors)
-Graduates 10 years out (career development)
-Graduates 15 years out (career development – first major achievements)
Survey results will be compared to innovation pipeline data from the National
Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) which
includes information on major field of study and other relevant measures, and with same
age, equally able and interested participants from the Midwest Academic Talent Search
who have not attended specialized science schools.

3.3 Additional Dependent and Independent Variables

Additional outcomes to be explored in our surveys include:

-Source of science interests before and during secondary school
-Source of science career aspirations before and during secondary school
-High school experiences that supported science interests
-Demographic information

3.4 Data Collection.

The project team will develop survey instruments, following the four month period of time
in which discussions about outcomes and outcomes measures are taking place. After
checking for instrument validity and reliability, the surveys will be distributed via email to
members of each intervention and comparison cohort group. The research team will
monitor response rates, with follow up emails, regular mail and telephone activities to
generate robust response rates. Contact information for all graduates from each school will
be obtained from each school. Since it is likely that current contact information for
increasing proportions of the older cohorts will be out of date, the project will work with
the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC) to obtain current contact information. The NSC

is a widely used source of follow up information on graduates of secondary and
postsecondary institutions and of participants in postsecondary financial aid programs. Its
Student Tracker program is used by hundreds of high schools and school districts,
including the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, to capture information about
postsecondary enrollment and success of their graduates.

3.5 Data management.

Data obtained from survey respondents will be archived in an offline, password-protected

database established for this purpose at the American Psychological Association. APA’s
Information and Technical Services (ITS) will perform the computer programming to
produce 4 surveys (one for each completion year cohort) with approximately 30 questions
each, plus demographic information. IBM and Macintosh platforms with current browsers
will be supported. The surveys will run from start to finish with no option to save and
return to the survey at a later time. Final data will be exported as Excel files for analysis
purposes. ITS will provide the means to send email to the survey audience: 1st email to all
audience, 2nd email to those who have not yet responded, 3rd and final email to remaining
non-respondents. The ITS platform will also be used to generate periodic response rate
reports to enable the research team to plan and execute follow up efforts to improve the
overall and school-specific response rates

3.6 Data Analysis

The first analysis will compare study site outcomes and the comparison group to measure
differences in outcomes (e.g., university major, completing undergraduate science degree,
entering science career, early career achievements). Second, we will compare outcomes
across study sites to gauge the impact of different models of specialized high school
programs (residential, school-within-school). The third analysis will examine the impact
on outcomes of covariates such as gender, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. Finally, we
will draw on available data and published reports from the NSF and NCES resources
described above to compare outcomes for study site graduates with those for relevant
comparison groups.
In addition to these analyses, the project will use the results of the data collection
to make appropriate adjustments to the instruments (e.g., outcomes measures, background
and preparation questions) and the data collection methodology. These revisions, if
warranted by our review of the pilot experience, will set the stage for the subsequent scale
up study with additional NCSSSMST schools.

3.7 Procedures

• Reach consensus on the relevant outcomes to be measured and analyzed.

• Construct the surveys with primary pilot site.
• Secondary pilot sites review and revise the draft surveys.
• Test the survey instruments with primary site graduates.
• Review results of pilot data collection, and make appropriate adjustments to
instruments and/or data collection methodology to ensure instrument reliability
and validity.

• Use revised survey and/or methodology to conduct survey with second group of
participating sites.
• Produce report based on survey results.
• Develop mechanism for scale up of study to multiple sites.

3.8 Deliverables

• Pilot tested and methodologically sound instruments ready for national data
• Preliminary findings from pilot sites
• Design, replicate, and scale up of study with multiple sites from the NCSSSMST

3.9 Audiences

• Education research community

• Education practice community
• Education policy community (including federal, state, and philanthropic)
• New specialized and magnet schools
• Higher education, scientific organizations (National Research Council, American
Association for the Advancement of Science, National Institutes of Health, etc)
• Parents and communities

3.10 Time Line

Year One
• Define study outcomes for graduates of specialized schools at four points in time.
• Develop instruments with team from primary pilot site followed by feedback
from secondary pilot sites.
• Identify and locate cohorts of graduates from pilot sites.
• Test survey at primary, secondary, and comparison sites through survey
administration, and follow up steps to improve response rate
• Populate APA database with survey return data from pilot sites.

Year Two
• Analyze pilot data and write reports.
• Develop mechanism for scale up of study for multiple sites from the

Years Three to Five

• Collect and analyze data.
• Produce and disseminate reports.
• Papers, presentations, and discussions with research, practice, and policy groups
and organizations.

4. Broad Impact of the Study

Currently, there is widespread attention being paid to the educational, economic, and
policy dimensions of science talent development. Even so, little solid empirical evidence
exists about successful practices with regard to identification and development of science
talent in the United States. The study findings will be useful in formulating and assessing
relevant state and national policy initiatives, particularly the role that specialized science
schools play in developing scientific innovation by providing the skills and knowledge
needed to enhance the effectiveness of key professions such as teaching, law, business and
entrepreneurship. The longest standing specialized high schools like the Bronx High
School of Science boast 7 Nobel Laureates among its graduates. Yet in spite of our beliefs
about their efficacy, the NCSSSMST member schools face their districts and state
legislators without objective data to bolster their requests for political and financial
support. Newer proposed initiatives at the state and federal levels face the same challenges.
In sum, large expenditures of public funds have been proposed or approved with no
evidence-based benchmarks for success.

5. Integration of Research and Education

A pressing challenge in education is to bridge the research-practice-policy gulf with high

quality and relevant research to improve practice and inform policy. Study sites and their
national association have committed to the project in hopes of gaining new insights that
will contribute to program improvement and because they share the belief that high quality
research is the best way to improve policy and practice. The instruments will be a useful
tool for them to use in the future to assess and reflect on progress to meet their goals. At
each step of the process, school personnel from participating pilot sites will be actively
involved in developing instruments and interpreting the data outcomes. With the data
collected and analyzed, (1) the schools will have information to present for purposes of
accountability, (2) new schools can evaluate what components of existing schools offer
maximal educational impact, and (3) the research and policy communities will be able to
assess the value added of the specialized schools to the science innovation pipeline and to
other advanced professions.


[1] B. Bloom, Developing Talent in Young People. Ballentine, New York, 1985.
[2] M. Pyryt, Talent Development in Science and Technology. In K.A. Heller, F.J. Monks,
R.J. Sternberg, & R.F. Subotnik (eds.) International handbook of giftedness and talent
(2nd ed.) Elsevier, Oxford, UK, 2000, pp. 427-438.
[3] R. Subotnik, R. Duschl, and E. Selman, Retention and Attrition of Science Talent: A
Longitudinal Study of Westinghouse Science Talent Search Winners. International
Journal of Science Education, 15 (1), 1993, pp. 61-72.

[4] R. Subotnik, A. Edmiston, and K. Rayhack, Developing National Policies in STEM
Talent Development: Obstacles and Opportunities. In P. Csermely, et.al. (ed.), Science
Education: Models and Networking of Student Research Training Under 21, IOS Press,
Netherlands, 2007, pp. 28-38.
[5] http://nces.ed.gov/ccd/commonfiles/stateresults.asp as part of the Common Core of
Data. This website is run by the National Center for Education Statistics, a unit of the
Institute of Education Sciences at the U.S. Department of Education.
[6] National Research Council. Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and
Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future. Committee on Prospering in the
Global Economy of the 21st Century: An Agenda for American Science and Technology.
The National Academies Press, Washington DC, 2006.

Youth, Science and Engineering
Thomas WENDTa,1, Peter GILBERTb, Jens HEMMELSKAMPc, Manuela WELZELa,d
and Charlotte SCHULZEa
Youth and Science Foundation Heidelberg gGmbH, Heidelberg, Germany
Initiative Youth and Science, Heidelberg, Germany
University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany
University of Education Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany

Abstract. "Made in Germany" is well known, but engineers are facing a dramatic
decrease of people joining the field. Central Europe with its lack of natural resources
is relying on development and production of trading goods and therefore knowledge
is the most important resource. In cooperation with regional representatives of the
Association of German Engineers, we have started several projects to attract young
people into engineering and technology and extend our regional network of
extracurricular activities for young people in life sciences and technology.

Keywords. Youth, science, engineering, technology, network


The previous publication [1] focused on science activities for schools and pupils and
the interactions of youth and science in the network of the Metropolitan Region Rhein-
Neckar. Meanwhile we have extended our networking activities and managed to attract
severel new key players from industry and education to join the initiative.
While birth rates are far below a level that would be enough to maintain a constant
population, this demographic change has not reached universities yet. Nevertheless science
and in particular engineering in Germany is facing a decline in student numbers. Industry
is already searching for well trained people and is realising that the only way to change
the trend is to attract young people into the field at a very early state.

6. Youth – Science - Industry Projects

1.1. Project “Young people are thinking about their future” (Jugend denkt Zukunft)

This project is designed to involve young adults in the process of economic development.
Together with companies, students between the age of 15 and 18 develop new products and
services for the world of tomorrow. The heart of the initiative is a five-day ‘innovation
game’. In this ‘game’, students in cooperation with companies develop products and
services for the future. The concept, structure and feasibility of the method were tested in
the pilot phase in summer 2004. Since then, numerous ‘games’ have been successfully
played. The participants simulate an exemplary innovation process that starts with the
analysis of global mega trends and identification of industry-specific trends right through to

Correponding author: Thomas Wendt, ExploHeidelberg, Im Neuneheimer Feld 582,
69120 Heidelberg, Germany; E-mail: wendt@explo-heidelberg.de.

the development and marketing of a new product or a service, the students study and go
through the complete process. It is a prerequisite that each innovation game has a clear
company sponsor. So far over 380 student groups in classes 9-12, representing over 9000
students of age 15 to 18, of all school types have been adopted by companies through a
This school-industry partnership was originated in the metropolitain region Rhein-
Neckar but is meanwhile extended country wide due to its great success. Moderation and
conception of the project is done by a corporation (IFOK GmbH) as well as organization of
press and public relation events.
Togehter with IFOK, the Initiative Youth and Science has started to collect school-
science-industry activities aiming at pupils which is currently comprised of almost 50
projects. Upon completion, this collection will be published elsewhere and made available
via internet in a searchable database.

1.2. Symposium for pupils of the Initiative Youth and Science

As already described in detail in the previous publication [1], the Initiative Youth and
Science carries out a symposium for pupils on life sciences and technology once a year.
Pupils that work on extracurricular science projects are invited to present their work to a
large audience with posters and oral presentations. Besides, a series of scientific lectures
on a specific topic is carried out during the day. The main focus of the symposium is to
establish dialogue and discussion between the approximately 300 participating pupils,
teachers, researchers, industry representatives and the general public.
For the first time in 2007 we were invited to run the symposium in parallel with the
annual meeting of the Association of German Engineers (Verband Deutscher Ingenieure,
VDI). This association has approximately 130000 members and hosts about 2000 of them
during their annual meeting. Engineers were attending some of the student presentations
and were visiting student exhibits. They could experience the qualitiy and motivation of
the pupils when involved in scientific or technological projects. The pupils on the other
hand had the great opportunity to learn more about engineering by visiting the engineers
exhibition area.
Initiated by this first contact, it is now planned that the Association of German
Engineers is participating more actively during future symposia of the Initiative Youth and
Science. One idea is to organize a students competition on an engineering and technology
topic. Students will have to develop for example a CO2 neutral egg cooker and the quality
of the product will be evaluated during the symposium by a committee of engineers,
scientists and teachers.

2. Hands-on science and engineering activities for lower secondary level

While very young children are curious by nature, school students loose curiosity
somehwere along the track towards higher education. This does not seem to be a
consequence of aging but rather related to the way, sciences and technology are taught in
school. The school curriculum is overloaded with providing knowledge and facts but
training skills and hands-on activities are not included. This is the reason, why we loose
young people for sciences usually in the lower secondary level. ExploHeidelberg has
therefore decided to change focus slightly and not only offer molecular biology practicals
for senior high school students but rather develop biological experiments suitable for lower

secondary level. This involves immune biology, microbiology, biotechnology, and enzyme
kinetics. In cooperation with the faculty of biology from the University of Heidelberg we
have started a project involving university teacher students. They developed easy
experiments that fit into the school curriculum and refined the experiments in several
practical sessions with test classes. This served the teaching laboratory to gain new
experiments. It gave the test classes and their teachers the possibility to get directly
involved in the development and refinement which is a high stimulation. But most
importantly it helped the teacher students to have a first time practice with school classes,
to develop experimental skills and test suitability of the experimental setup. These
possibilities are not provided during standard university training. We were highly
impressed from the very positive feedback of this project and want to repeat the project in
the near future.
In a second stage, we are now planning to extend this effort for lower secondary level
school classes and establish a regular course. Starting from this school year, a new topic
has been introduced into the school curriculum combining all science and technology areas
and having a strong focus on cross curricular teaching and practical experiments. Since
teachers are not yet trained for this new challenge and equipment is missing in schools,
establishing teaching laboratories can be an economic way to cover a large number of
students with practical experiments. We are now planning on starting a similar project. The
visit of such a teaching laboratory not only has the advantage that the school curriculum is
covered, it also serves to motivate the students since it is not the every day teacher in front
of them but rather a scientist.

3. Starting as early as possible

While we have seen a lot of activities yet that are adressing young people at the
secondary level, a lot of effort has also been put into education already at kindergarden
level. The University of Education in Heidelberg has started the project “Mit Kindern die
Welt entdecken” which translates into English as “To experience the world together with
children”. This project that started in September 2005 is funded by the Klaus Tschira
Foundation and aimed at inspiring children at a very early stage for natural sciences.
Kindergarden teachers from four different kindergardens in Heidelberg are trained in
regular workshops how to experiment and explore natural science phenomena with the
children. They learn how to setup experiments with materials that are available easily.
Additional material is provided in tool boxes that are distributed by the University of

4. Future perspective

The projects and activities for young people in science and enginieering that were
described in this article and the earlier one [1] are very well accepted. Several other cities
have expressed their interest in establishing a similar network within their region. The
partners in the Initiative Youth and Science are very open to these collaborations. To our
opinion, it is important to motivate young people at the earliest stage possible and if
consisting concepts proof suitable for this, it is worth distributing the knowledge and
sharing the experience to avoid inventing the wheel over and over again and waste
valuable energy.

To attract european funding and influence policy makers it is important to represent a
large enough community. Only with a strong network and with lots of members it will be
possible to achieve that. With the new seventh framework program it is also the first time
that an independent reasearch funding scheme has been established with the Europaen
Research Council at EU level. With increased networking activities in the extracurricular
education sector it might be possible to achieve somethig similar. A network like the
NYEX could be one of the key players.


[1] Communicating Science – Regional Network of Science Centres and Initiatives, Wendt T., Gilbert P.,
Hemmelskamp J., Welzel M., Schulze C., in Science Education: Models and Networking of Student
Research Training under 21, P. Csermely et al. (Eds.), 2007.


All the initiatives, projects and activities would not be possible without the support and
energy of the many partners, volunteers, organizers and supervisors. We are grateful to the
following companies and foundation for sponsoring the Initiative Youth and Science:
BASF AG, Pfizer Deutschland GmbH, VDI and Robert Bosch Foundation.


Effects of Out-of-school Science Education

The Impact of International Youth Science
Camp in University Research Laboratory on
the Development of Academic Career
Revital JALLIF and Shimon GEPSTEIN1
Center for Pre-University Education ,Technion-Israel Institute of Technology,

Abstract "SciTech" is an international four-week science and

technology live-in research camp organized by the Center for Pre-
University Education at the Technion - Israel Institute of
Technology. This program is intended for eleventh and twelfth
grade high-school students from around the world who have
demonstrated an exceptional interest and ability in science and
technology. SciTech 2007 is the 16th in this series and accepted 70
students from the Americas, Europe, Asia and Israel who conduct
research with senior Technion academic staff in many areas of
science and technology. The main objective is to give the talented
participant a taste of scientific research in a world class research
environment. This is achieved by performing the research
program as an individual or couple in one of the laboratories of a
senior scientist of the Technion. The project is summarized by an
oral presentation and a written manuscript. This program also
provides a unique opportunity for the participants to meet talented
science students from all parts of the world. The combination of
the tight selection process of interested talented youngsters with
the selection of excellent mentors in academic research
laboratories and by offering the most modern topics in various
science's and engineering's disciplines increases the ambition of
the participant for developing academic career.

Keewords youth science camp, academic career


Those who have the potential for succeeding as gifted adults require not only the
personal attributes often mentioned in definitions of giftedness, but also some special
encounters with the environment tofacilitate the emergence of talent (A.J Tannebaum) .

Corresponding author: E-mail: Gepstein@tx.technion.ac.il

High-achieving students have many opportunities to excel in science. The
Unit of Fostering Excellence in Science at the Technion offer several enrichment
programs in addition to their regular courses in high schools.
Special programs that the Unit of the Center for Pre-Academic Education
provides include undergraduate university level courses in mathematics, computer
sciences, chemistry, and physics for accumulating academic credits. In addition high
school students can enroll in numerous enrichment programs (throughout the year) and
summer programs that are specifically designed for excellent student populations.
However, we are still encountering a general problem that students’ interest in
science drops as they progress through school and we need new ways of attracting
high-achieving students to science and developing their "scientific habits of mind".
Barab and Hay (2001) summarized the features of formal schooling in science
and showed that these features are inherently different from those used by scientists in
the practice of science. There are two models of programs based on the apprenticeship
concept (Barab, Squire, &Dueber, 2000). In a simulation model educators create an
environment that supports students in doing science as part of the classroom activities.
In participation model students do science under the guidance of scientists. Here we
report on a successful program deigned for excellent high school students aimed at
providing learning and experiencing science in the real environment where science is
developed–the university 'researcher laboratory.
We established,16 years ago , a special program designated SciTech –an
international summer science camp for 4 weeks during which a high school student,
individually, conducts a research project in a research laboratory of a Faculty member
in one of the 18 Sciences and Engineering Faculties of the Technion, a prestigious
Scientific and Engineering University located in Haifa, Israel. The mentors are
graduate or post-doc fellows but all are sponsored by a University Professor.

Description of the Program

There are several important stages in the program: candidate's selection process,
mentors and project selections, project's selection by the accepted candidates, in
advance preparation for the summer camp, the 4-week summer science camp and the
participant's presentations. Each one of the stages is critical for the success of the
The selection of high school participants starts in early spring. The on-line
application process (program website: http://www.technion.ac.il/scitech) includes
students’ transcripts and teacher recommendations. The requirements are: level of
eleventh or twelve high school grades, demonstration of exceptional interest and ability
in science and technology. Evaluations are based on academic scores, high school
scores in Mathematics, Physics, Biology, and Chemistry, recommendations by high
school teachers and other scholars, appropriate information by the candidates regarding
their motivation and interest in Science and technology communication skills etc. The
participants are usually straight A students with an occasional B on their transcripts.
All of them are highly recommended by the teachers.—the program is so challenging
and time-consuming that only those with a genuine interest apply. The Israeli
candidates are also personally interviewed. Participants are required to pay for the
tuition, lodging and social activities. However, scholarships are available to allow
talented candidates to participate in the program.

In parallel, the mentor's selection among the academic staff of the Technion is
being carried out. The mentors' teaching capabilities and their personalities are
considered. Projects are proposed by the mentors and are evaluated by their own
Professors and the academic consultants of the center for Pre-Academic Education for
their suitability. Mentors are paid for their work.
The process of project's selection by the candidate is a bit complicated and the
candidates are required to select several alternatives from the project list and to score
their priorities. Mentors are required to select the appropriate participants based on the
personal information and their written answers for the mentor's questions regarding the
proposed project. Our experience shows that only few succeed to obtain their top
priority project.
Once the candidates are informed regarding their selected project, they
communicate with their mentors; obtain the required information associated with the
scientific literature and the methodologies involved in the project. The preparation
stage is one of the most critical factors that allow better understanding of the scientific
background and ensure higher efficiency in the progress of the project during the very
short period of 4 weeks. The daily schedule four weeks summer camp include 8 hours
of research in the researcher laboratory , evening social activities, lectures ,self study
and free time.
The program also provides excursion during the weekends. Social activities
and excursions are crucial and provide supportive atmosphere and supplement the
scientific activities. Self study and free time allows the participants to present and
discuss their projects with colleagues. The scientific project requires intensive guidance
by the mentor especially in the first several days. The student needs to understand
exactly what the objectives of the project are, the methodologies of the project and to
acquire the scientific research principals. The mentor helps students to distinguish
between experimental data and explanations and to realize there could be multiple
explanations for the same data that could not be proved but could only be ruled out
.The main role of the mentor is to supply the tools, background and information for
designing the project and performing it within the restrictive timeframe. It is expected
that the student will submit a written plan for the project based on their prior
preparation and correspondence with the mentor. The first day or two are usually
devoted for further theoretical issues and discussions required for project planning.
Experimental work, especially in new field requires thorough understanding of the
methodologies and sometimes of sophisticated apparatus.
Mentors are required to dedicate the enough time in the beginning for all these
important issues. The short period if designed properly, allows the pre-prepared student
to accomplish his project objectives and to summarize it in oral and poster
presentations. One of the declared objectives of the program is to learn how to present a
scientific research both orally and as a written scientific manuscript. Student
presentations at the last day represented evidence of their ability to participate in
authentic research. The projects are presented in three different sessions and are scored
both by their colleagues and experts. Evaluation committee of experts chooses the best
oral and poster presentations and recommend for best presentation awards.

Tab 1: Satisfaction scoring for different components of the SciTech program. The
satisfaction scores of a selected group of 12 participants are presented. Satisfaction scores
range from1-4. The scale for general satisfaction ranges from 1-10.

Example of a Scitech project - the best oral presentation.

A Human Embryonic Stem Cell Derived Cardiomyocytes

Technion scientists are among the pioneers in introducing and developing the field of
embryonic stem cells and the potential use in regenerative medicine and cell therapy. A
world leading laboratory in the field from the Faculty of Medicine, Technion has
accepted two Scitech participants to perform a study on the generation of human heart
muscles that posses a great promise for future heart transplantations. Stem cells are an
invaluable resource because they are entirely unspecialized; they have the ability to
differentiate into every type of somatic cell. Between the two different types of stem
cells, adult and embryonic, the latter tends to be far more applicable for scientific
purposes. Embryonic stem cells are derived from embryos that have been fertilized in
vitro and donated for research purposes with informed consent of the donors. Human
embryonic stem cells (hESC) are isolated by transferring the inner cell mass of the
blastocyst into a laboratory culture dish, eventually creating a cell line. Embryonic
stem cells have the ability to proliferate indefinitely, yielding millions of cells over
time. When necessary, hESCs are allowed to differentiate, forming all different bodily
cells. Scientists are working to direct and control differentiation to specific somatic
cells. Currently, the potential for stem cell therapy within the human heart is increasing
greatly, with hESC-derived cardiomyocytes(CM) taking the forefront in cardiac
research and regenerative therapies2. Heart muscle cells, or cardiomyocytes, have
certain distinctive characteristics. Physically, the cells are a type of mononuclear
involuntary striated muscle, the striations formed by the alternating of thin and thick
protein filaments This project has demonstrated the successful differentiation of human
embryonic stem cells into functional heart muscle cells. Electrical and structural
features evidently proved that these cells behave similarly to authentic adult heart cells.
From this experiment, the conclusion drawn brought informative and seemingly

definitive data about the potential of hESC-CMs as appropriate substitutes for a human
heart during drug testing.

Analysis of the student satisfaction responses

Several factors influence the present decision of the students on future focusing in a
specific field. A major factor is the correlation between their preferred selected topic
and the actual assigned project. Although some of them are satisfied with the projects
that were not chosen as their top priority, higher satisfaction is expressed by those who
got their top priority topic.
However, we can not rule out the influence of all other factors such as the
mentor, the collaborators, the social activities.
The data presented in Tab 1 and the written responses of the participants show
that the impact of the SciTech program on their decision for focusing on future
academic career is influenced by all the components of the program. Social activities
do not play a central role on their decision for future academic career (see participants
# 38,17,48) that made a definite decision regarding a specific field and scored highly
the scientific components but relatively lower for the social activities of the program.

Student Letters

Student letters were used to gather evidence about the more general impact of the
SciTech on the impact of SciTech on their decision for choosing the field for future
career. The letters were written one month the SciTech program was ended.

My experience at SciTech 2007 cultivated my love of science and deepened my desire

to continue my studies in the field. Having the opportunity to participate in professional
level research was exciting, challenging, and ultimately very fulfilling. After having
completed the program, I know that both my academic future and hopefully my
personal career will be centered on science.

SciTech was a formative experience for my future plans. Prior to the program, my
interests were dispersed widely across many fields and professions. Scitech's unique
program structure, in which each participant is introduced into a real lab environment
and is given the opportunity to work on their own piqued my interest in the field of
medicinal research. From a wide range of options, SciTech sparked and increased my
interest in medical research."

My SciTech experience influenced my opinion about the place I want to learn .After
spending 3 wonderful weeks in the Technion I am pretty sure that I will try to be
accepted to the Technion. Unfortunately, SciTech didn't influence my academic studies
subject and I still have no idea what in going to learn.

SciTech 2007 was a unique experience for me. I had never had the chance to work in
well equipped laboratories before. In SciTech I participated in real scientific research in
a team of people with the same interests as mine. The feeling to explore something
undiscovered cannot be compared to anything else. I have always had interest in
physics, but SciTech was the first time I had the opportunity to go beyond school level
and taste a bit of real science. The program convinced me to continue developing in

physics in university, and pursuit a career connected with it. SciTech has not really
changed my future plans. I intended to study physics at university before SciTech, and
still plan to do so. It did give me an experience of electrical engineering and I have
considered studying engineering in the past but will not be studying it at university.
There is a small chance of me following a career in engineering after university, and
SciTech did show me a side of electrical engineering During SciTech, I've decided that
a major part of my time during undergraduate and graduate studies will be devoted
towards research. I've been able to learn so much just during the three weeks, and
believe that research is a great way for the world to become more developed.

I went to Scitech to give me an understanding of the life of a scientist and to see if I

would enjoy that style of life, and this program did exactly that. It aided me in my
decision of what major I would like to take in college. I felt the full experience of
researching, experimenting, and creating a full paper, presentation, and poster. The
program also gave me the opportunity to come to Israel and see the country and some
family. One of the most exciting parts was meeting with many other teenagers from
around the world that were also interested in science and cool people! Overall, it was a
very good experience.

After an incredibly inspirational experience at Sci-Tech, where I was guided by

knowledgeable and passionate professors to hone my analytical and methodological
research skills as well as my ability to present results, the probability of my pursuing a
scientific career is stronger than ever. Moreover, being steeped in an environment with
a body of highly motivated international students was extremely stimulating. I returned
from Sci-Tech with a need to continue enrichment in the sciences and, therefore, I've
applied to participate in a program in a research hospital in Montreal. Beyond this year,
I look forward to leaving high-school and focusing on a specialized science academic
track thanks to Sci-Tech.

To tell the truth SciTech didn't really influence my decision about the college because
science is just one of my interests. Now as I previously wanted I'll apply for an
economic class.

My SciTech experience will have a great influence on my future. The experiences I

have gained through this program have made me realize that research is much more
enjoyable than I had thought.
While my project was all theoretical, which I would not prefer, research was very
fulfilling and challenging when we solved problems we thought we encountered.
Although I still think I want to be a clinical doctor for my long term career plans,
throughout the remainder of high school and college, and SciTech was a fantastic
experience. I learned a lot, not only about the process of medical research in a world-
class institution, but also about where my own interests lie in the field of science. It
was eye-opening to have the opportunity to see and do research first had, especially
with an experienced researcher at the cutting edge of his field.
My project, the Effect of Diabetes on Endothelial Progenitor Cells, was very interesting
and I was exposed to a lot that I would not have been able to see normally in high
school. We learned in depth about diabetes and endothelial progenitor cells and we
nearly became experts. Additionally, we had the chance to do the lab work ourselves,
with some supportive guidance, and witness the process of scientific research. This

helped narrow my interests in terms of what I might like to do in college and in my
professional career. I fully enjoyed the work I did with my mentor, , who was a
wonderful teacher, but the SciTech experience has helped me see that scientific
research is not my passion. This by no means detracted from the amazing time I had at
the Technion. It was a very valuable learning experience.
While I now realize that research may not be for me, SciTech helped cement my
conviction that my future lies somewhere in the field of medicine, whether that be
biomedical engineering or surgery. I worked in the Rambam Medical Center and had
the opportunity to see open heart surgery, specifically a coronary artery bypass graft,
which was without a doubt the coolest thing I have ever seen. I also learned a lot not
just from my mentor but also from my fellow students. I loved meeting high school
students with diverse interests from all over the world. I made some great friends. And
it was a very satisfying accomplishment to complete our research independently,
proceed to write a report and make a poster about our findings, and then learn from our
peers about their respective projects about which they had become experts. Overall, I
had so much fun at SciTech and I met many interesting people and learned a lot about
medical research.

While I can't exactly describe how it influenced my future decisions, I can truthfully
say that it will have an impact on the direction I plan to go in college as well os my
career choice. Of course it won't have a huge affect on my decisions but it's an
experience that changed me both academically and socially and I would defiantly go
again if I had the chance.

When I signed up for the Technion's SciTech program, I never imagined that it will
have the affect upon my future outlook that it did. First, I had an opportunity to
advocate for myself, research various topics of interest and then decide upon the project
that best suited me. When I arrived to the program in early August, I was impressed by
the professionalism of the staff - they had a solid handle on the moving in and
acclimating to the atmosphere. All of the counselors and staff were caring and fun.
They not only were our counselors, but our friends as well. Then, came the real
surprise – the kids in the program! Suddenly, I was surrounded by an international
group of outstanding high schoolers who were smart, energetic and fun. There were no
language, culture or religious barriers -we were all there for the same purpose: to learn,
grow and enjoy the experience. I am in total awe of my Supervisor, Professor Amram
Mor and my Mentor, Tchelet Kovachi. They guided me through the intricacies of my
project - explaining in detail each phase and the technology connected to it. My
presentation at the end of the program reflected the wealth of information I learned and
my gratitude to them. I hope to return to the Technion in the future, as I pursue my
studies toward a career in medicine.

Long before I came to Haifa, I read additional physics books, solved numerous
problems, participated in competitions. But still, the unique experience, which I had
during my time there will, always be among my most pleasant memories. I am still
under heavy impressions from the program and I feel inspired to continue my education
and professional training in the field of physics.
I had the chance to work in sophisticated experimental setting (laser, polarizator,
pinhole objective, CCD camera, positioning stage, photodiode etc.) under supervision. I
learned to construct specific configurations for the realization of specific physics

experiments in the field of fiber optics. I also learned how to process the
mathematically derived experimental data and how to make conclusions based on it.
All that sparkled my inspiration and enthusiasm and made even firmer my dedication to
the experimental and theoretical physics.
The great impression that the university made to me and the high academic standards
makes me consider the possibility to attend the Technion University of Haifa in order
to study, or at least as a part of a specialization program. I hope that next year I will
have the chance to participate in other programs of the university. These will definitely
help me build up my skill even further.


Based on the sample of the students' responses and the students' letters we may
conclude the followings;
The majority of the research projects have significant impact on their future
decision for selecting the scientific field and academic career.
Those who are not sure at this stage what field they choose, yet most of them
believe that they prefer research or academic career.
Those who do not express full satisfaction from the program, are not focused
at this stage on specific field and made more general declarations The majority of the
students thinks that the SciTech program was an additional critical catalyst that ignites
their interest and enthusiasm for scientific research.
In general, the satisfaction of those who participated in research which was
not their first priority was not significantly lower.
It is clear that the exposure to modern new applicative scientific disciplines
and the quality of the academic staff have major impact on their future decisions.
The international participation and mingling of excellent students from 7
different countries and cultures has a significant influence on their satisfaction from the
SciTech program and expressed their belief that Science is universal and may influence
future global interrelationships.

Extra-curricular scientific educational
programs in developing expert thinking

Institute of Psychology, Faculty of Philosophy, Belgrade University

Abstract. The essence of scientific expert thinking development is defined through

introducing the young into scientific and research work and activities in the
process of education and practice within a particular scientific discipline. The
research involves a group of secondary school students included in extra-curricular
scientific educational programs in Petnica Science Center. Developing expertise,
particularly early forms of expert thinking in two areas, astronomy and psychology,
was thus examined in its initial stages.

Key words. Expert thinking, scientific knowledge, extra-curricular scientific

programs, developing expert tninking

Concept of expert thinking

The paper starts from the assumption that expert thinking is a complex manner of
thinking of higher order comprising higher mental functions and complex capabilities
based on deep structures and knowledge patterns It is a domain-determined and
specialized thinking developed through systematic education [1].
The subject matter of the paper, namely the beginnings and development of expert
thinking, is examined by investigating early development of scientific expert thinking
in adolescents interested in dealing with scientific research work.

1. Developing expert thinking

1.1 Theoretical framework

This paper is exploratory in character, and comprised of two parts. The first part,
theoretical framework, is based on Vygotsky’s theory of cognitive development and the
concept of “artificial development”, as well as on information concerning the
development of giftedness and expertise.
Socio-cultural factors in Vygoskys’ theory have not only motivational but
formative role in development of higher mental functions. Education is considered as
“artificial development” [2]. In the spirit of Vygotsky’s theory it is possible to establish

Corresponding author: Zora Krnjaić, Institute of Psychology, Faculty of Philosophy,
Belgrade University, Čika Ljubina 18-20, 11000 Belgrade, Serbia; Е-mail:

new conception of qualitative progress in mental development in young people and
adulthood, in life span perspective, which is not limited by age and finishing formal
Concepts relevant for the study of the complex nature of expert thinking are:
mediated intelligence and the process of systemogenesis of knowledge, Katel’s
definition of crystallized intelligence, Gardener’s work on multiple intelligences in the
context of knowledge and experience as well as Sternberg’s two-fact subtheory and
concept of developing expertise.

1.2 Extra-curricular scientific educational programs

The second part of this work involves the planning and carrying out of empirical
research. The essence of expert thinking development is defined through introducing
the young into scientific and research work and activities in the process of education
and deliberate practice within a particular scientific discipline. Comparing to regular
school activities, extra-curricular scientific education program has many advantage.
First of all it is context for real scientific research activities and scientific reasoning
(general atmosphere in the learning environment, physical environment, learning
content, research methods adequate for the nature of scientific discipline etc.)
The research involves a group of secondary school students included in extra-
curricular scientific educational programs in Petnica Science Center (experts), and the
sample of students not participating in such programs (novices). Expert thinking,
particularly early forms of expert thinking in two areas, astronomy and psychology,
was thus examined in its initial stages, as well as non-expert, novice thinking.

2. Early stages of expertise

2.1. New competencies

Students develop new competences within rich social interaction in the process of
deliberate research practice within a particular scientific discipline. Capacity for
structuring is considered as one of fundamental research skill, and it has been varied
with regard to the type and level of structuring materials and contents, and examined
through assignments requiring the subjects to discern the essential: in the figure
material; in verbal material (identifying key words in abstracts of articles from various
scientific disciplines); and from experience, in the process of scientific research work;
it has also been complemented by the mentors’ expert assessments.
The findings are indicative of the effects of both previous school education and
extracurricular educational programs on expressing the examined capacity for

2.2. Students’ insights

Exceptionally motivated secondary school pupils experienced "scientific approach to

knowledge", discoverd new methods in scientific research work, different type of
communication and team work. Students also reported difficulties in understanding
theoretical background of certain problems: students ingaged in psychology program

have difficulties in comprehension brodar theoretical framework, problem
identification and data interpretation: students ingaged in astronomy area program had
problems particullary in understanding theoretical models

2.3. Mentors’ assessments

Significant and competent persons in interaction with gifted children and youth realize
formative action or have potential for its realization in various aspects of development.
Theoretical and empirical findings point to the fact that mentors' guidiance is an
irreplaceable and integral component of educational process and the program
supporting the gifted [3]. The estimations of mentors have been considered in the work
concerning the early stages of expertise with the adolescents interested in dealing with
scientific research work.
Assessing students work mentor who works directly with adolescents included in
extracurricular educational programs, in boath areas, astronomy and psychology,
underlines students benefits from their research experience, particullary in developing
certain intellectual strategies and research procedures and methods important for the
nature of certain scientific discipline. On the other hand, due to the lack of systematic
scientific knowledge students make typical mistakes facing with difficulties in
separating the essential, data interpretations and generalizations.

3. Conclusions

Expert thinking, specialized and domain specific way of thinking, seems to be based on
general and specific capabilities and their interaction [4]. The capability for abstract
thought, the ability to realize what is important as well as the domain of relevant
specific capability are assumed to be of special relevance for understanding expert


[1] Z. Krnjaic, Expert Thinking: Beginnings and Development, PhD thesis, Faculty of Philosophy, Belgrade
University, 2005.
[2] I. Ivic, Profiles of Educators: Lev S. Vygotsky. In: Tedesco, J.C. & Morsey, Z. (ed.), Thunkers on
Education, UNESCO: Prospekts 4 (1994), 761-785.
[3] R. Subotnik, Beyond Bloom: Revisting Environmental Factors that Enhance and Impede Talent
Development, 6th ECHA Conference "Potential into Performance", Oxford, UK. 1998.
[4] Z. Krnjaic, Towards the Determination of Capabilities Relevant for Expert Thinking, Journal of the
Institute for Educational Research, 38 (2006) 45-60.

Even gifted students can not see
the wood for the trees
Srdjan VERBIĆ a,b,1
Petnica Science Center, Serbia
Institute for Education Quality and Evaluation, Serbia

Abstract. Since the very beginning of Petnica Science Center students do small
research projects in order to learn the basic scientific methodology. Preparing reports
and papers is unavoidable part of such learning. After 25 years of work, it is perfectly
clear that students learned how to present their results and write papers. However,
such results do not tell us anything about the students' understanding of the broader
context of research problem and their attitude toward research process. We believe
there is a plenty of room to make progress here.

Keywords. learning through research, science education, scientific method, Petnica


Main goal of Petnica Science Center (PSC) is to provide facilities and stimulating
surrounding for advanced education and scientific research. All parts of the research
process are prepared and monitored by PSC associates. Their task is to advise and guide
students through the research [1]. They are, also, supposed to “catalyze” process of
research, because we don’t have years at disposal, but only a few weeks. However,
research has to be student’s deed as much as possible. Otherwise, they miss pleasure,
satisfaction for well accomplished job. Important feature of those projects is that they do
not require full comprehension of complicated concepts of contemporary science and
heavy mathematical apparatus. They demand creativity and teamwork.
Probably, the most important part of programs in Petnica concerns methodology
of scientific work and writing of science reports and papers - Learning through Research
(LTR). This way participants of Petnica programs study by "discovering" various facts,
relationships, structures or models under the supervision of more experienced researchers.
School curricula cannot keep up with the current flood of information so we have to focus
on a few specific students' capabilities; to know how to observe and access information,
how to evaluate its content and credibility and how to infer its consequences and possible
Learning through Research enables three important components in the process of
acquiring of knowledge. The first one is an opportunity to "discover". The second one is an
opportunity to implement new science in order to examine well-known fact or principle.
Thus, we get results which, of course, don’t have to be numbers seen for the first time.
Passion and excitement of discovery are more important. The third component provides
young people with greater responsibility for their own learning. LTR model is individually
oriented and all students are supposed to realize how important their own initiative is. Our

Corresponding author: Srdjan Verbić, Petnica Science Center, P.O. Box 6, 14104
Valjevo, Serbia; E-mail: verbic@petnica.net.

job is to prepare them for individual work. Students have to develop a skill of "navigation"
through the ocean of resources and to learn how to learn more efficiently [2].
All students are required to make final reports on their research whether their
experiments succeeded or not. Research level of those papers is less important then the fact
that job is done completely, not just exciting part, i.e. research itself, but boring part all the
way to collecting references and correction of text corrected so many times before.

Fig. 1. Teaching of scientific method is always hard

Selected students' papers are published annually in edition called Petnica's Papers
since 1992 [3, 4]. Ten years later, Petnica has started with students' science conference [5]
in order to give students a chance to present their work in front of their colleagues and get
significant feedback. So far, Petnica's Papers had nearly a thousand students' papers in
fifteen scientific disciplines. All this material enabled us to see common problems with
comprehension of scientific work and students' attitude toward topic of research, science,
colleagues, prospective career, etc.

2. Top ten unrelenting problems of LTR

1.2 The lack of hypotheses and educated guesses

If you observe research of students in spectrum of disciplines ranging from

mathematics (formal) to ethnology (descriptive), it is likely that most of them could
not recognize hypotheses in their work. It is logical consequence of more practical
problem that students are not comfortable to use educated guesses as research tool.
LTR students do not have fear of guessing, but their guesses are rarely designed to
maximize the answer's information. One step further, they do not know how to tell
whether an answer is reasonable or not. For example, they do not use heuristics such
as checking limiting cases or dimensional analysis. This difficulty is related to their
reluctance to guess. To overcome this natural reluctance, we must teach students
heuristic methods; with practice, students will develop the courage to use them [6].

Problem is particularly emphasized in more descriptive disciplines, deprived of
adequate mathematical apparatus.

1.3 Enchanted by difficult recipes

Seriousness and complexity of difficult procedures, algorithms or protocols always

impress students. In order to build electronic device or synthesize some complex
compound, it requires a lot of efforts and strict obedience to the rules. Students learn
necessary craft and handiness this way, but it leaves no room for varying of procedures
which is essential for learning through research. Science is based on diversification of
procedures. Educated disobedience to the rules is one of corner stones of scientific edifice.
Unreasonably complicated recipes are not suitable for students' research projects. In such
cases, student simply can not see the wood for the trees.

1.4 Enchanted by shiny boxes

Another thing that regularly fascinates students is new, nicely designed instrument. It does
not matter what is written in the certificate, they always believe more a shiny piece of
equipment. Measuring equipment with pompous names seriously endanger students'
readiness to be critical about results. The same thing stands for software. The simpler it is,
you think more about how it works and use more checking points. Do not give students
sophisticated piece of equipment, it would mesmerize them.

1.5 Terminological barrier

The first thing that LTR students learn is how to mimic professionals. They use scary
terminology and slang of the "big science" colleagues. Students, probably, believe that
using (or copying) of incomprehensive formulations and slang would contribute to the
seriousness of the work. Also, we have protective effect of the terminological barrier.
Students often use it to protect themselves against unpleasant questions. Unpronounceable
words would keep curious characters away. The most serious problem that arises from this
behavior is the lack of the feedback. Students are deprived from comments, critics,
suggestions, proposals for further work, etc. The only person invited to express its opinion
is the supervisor, the person who proposed or shaped the project at first place. When you
enter such a circulus vitious, it is hard to get out.

1.6 The lack of comparisons

Students' papers often look like series of self-sufficient, moderately redundant and not
particularly informative statements. There are no comparisons with other models, methods,
results, conclusions or interpretations. Why is that? Comparisons are basic idea of all
observations, measurement and experiments. One would expect that students make
comparisons all the time because that is the easiest way to add up small pieces of
information. However, it seems that students do not see what are they supposed to
compare. It looks like another example of students’ inability to tell apart important and
trivial results. Practice of inventive and everlasting comparisons is something that we have
to teach them. They should always compare their models, methods, results, conclusions,
interpretations, etc. with counterparts in other papers.

1.7 Incomprehension of experimental error

Teaching of error theory and probabilistic reasoning is important part of learning through
research. Students calculate errors, probably because we asked them to do so, but they do
not recognize information in this entity. They do not include error estimation in process of
conclusions inferring.

1.8 Usage of statistics as a black-box

Statistics also has some mesmerizing properties. It seems that statistical tests are
recognized as magic wand which even provisional categories easily turns into "statistically
significant" conclusions. This blind confidence that statistics will do something so we
would not have to use brains at all is disastrous for learning through research. Really
precious phenomena for practicing research are simple enough be explored and described
in a few weeks, but hard enough so we would not be able to find "textbook explanations".
Situations where straight-forward statistics fails to produce reasonable explanations are
kind of problems that we are looking for.

1.9 Uninformative graphs

The way that students present their results is yet another manifestation of incomprehension
of relative value and importance of numbers they obtained. Principle that "graph's greatest
value is obtained when it forces us to see what we are not expecting" [7] is hard to follow
if you do not expect anything. This problem is strongly intertwined with the lack of
educated guesses. The other minor problem concerning graphs is rote usage of graphical
software. For general purpose software all data that given in a table are equally important.
Students are supposed to exclude uninformative or redundant and emphasize really
important parts. Not to mention that we expect them to be creative at this age.

1.10 Personal contribution

Usage of references in students' papers is quite serious problem. Students do not

distinguish what is a common place, their personal contribution or result produced by
some other researcher. Of course, great deal of responsibility here goes to the supervisor.
For the students alone, this problem might look marginal but resolving of these small
dilemmas helps to extract what is really significant and present it adequately. Particularly
important part of students' research work is to recognize fruitful ideas used in the research
and to realize where did they come from. Meaningful usage of references and
acknowledgements is indicator of maturity of researcher as well as a research tool.

1.11 Adopted interpretations

Research papers can not be written without interpretations of results. Students, for many
reasons, feel insecure here. They do not know enough to see the broader context of the
problem they investigated. As interpretation is the assignment of meaning to abstract
symbols, we surely need some meta-knowledge in order to construct such an assignment.
This problem is, in most of cases, too hard for students. The trivial solution is to listen to
the supervisor. If you do not have a supervisor, you can simply adopt interpretations from

a popular book or review paper. Unfortunately, sticking to a single interpretation is very
dangerous practice. It would be much better to write a list of possible interpretations with
adequate references, but students rarely do so.

4. Conclusions

There is a segment of research process where LTR science can not be different from “real”
science: strict and persistent usage of scientific method. You can’t make any compromises
here. Research work, of course, can be made on pretty bad model, uncompleted, with
tentative results and trivial conclusions only and it still can be correct. Persistent use of
scientific method gives no guarantee scientific value of obtained results. However, original
scientific contribution has to be less important in LTR than learning of methodology and
correctness in communication of results.
Gifted students or students extraordinary motivated for science possess a lot of
skills required for scientific research and autonomous learning through research. However,
such endeavor is rarely autonomous. There are always “guides” that misguide students
because of the lack of time, the lack of motivation, etc. Facilitators of extracurricular
science education programs should be prepared to protect students from supervisors
whenever it is necessary. This misguiding is just a part of a greater problem: students can
not distinguish important pieces of information from the rest of material. They certainly
need a help here.
Finally, here are a few suggestions for facilitators of students' research projects:
• teach students to use educated guesses
• keep them away from unusually rigid procedures and instruments that one can
not play with
• protect them from supervisor "too busy" to discuss problems with students
• ask them to find alternative, if possible non-statistical, way to discard hypotheses
• ask them to write acknowledgements
• ask them to make short list experiments that could reject applied model or
inferred conclusions
• propose peer review as the procedure for accepting students’ papers


[1] V. Majić, The Petnica Science Center, Science Education Newsletter 152 (2000) 1-3.
[2] S. Verbić and V. Majić, Petnica Science Center – A Model for an Institution of Extracurricular Science
Education, Science Education International 3 (2002) 27-29.
[3] Petničke sveske – Zbornik učeničkih radova (in Serbian). Petnica Science Center, Valjevo, 1992-2006.
[4] S. Verbić ed., Learning Physics through Research – Selected student's papers. Petnica Science Center,
Valjevo, 2001, available at
[5] Web site of Petnica Students’ Science Conference, http://conference.petnica.rs
[6] S. Mahajan, Observations on teaching first-year physics, http://arxiv.org/abs/physics/0512158v1
[7] J.W. Tukey, Exploratory Data Analysis. Addison-Wesley, Reading, Mass., 1977.

Challenging gifted adolescents in
international summer academies
Harald WAGNER 1, Volker BRANDT
Bildung und Begabung e.V., Germany

Abstract. A German pre-college programme is described which since its inception in

1988 has developed into a most successful educational opportunity for highly able
and achievement motivated 16 to 19 year-olds: the Deutsche SchülerAkademie
(German Pupils Academy). Details are given about educational goals, structure of the
academies, selection of participants and instructors, contents of coursework,
programme evaluation, and finances. Recent extensions focus on academies for
younger pupils and multinational academies with participants from middle eastern
European countries.

Keywords. gifted adolescents, residential summer programme, pre-college

enrichment programme.

1. The German Pupils Academy

Inspired by the Johns Hopkins University/Center for Talented Youth's approach to provide
for highly able young people [1], Bildung und Begabung e.V., a non-profit German
association, supported by the Federal Government, in 1988 developed residential summer
programmes for 16-19 year-old upper secondary school pupils thus filling the critical gap
between the last school years and higher education with a pre-college type of summer
academy. Within a few years these programmes have grown into an outstanding
opportunity for academically highly talented and motivated adolescents which seems to be
quite unique in Europe. They are now well-known by the name "Deutsche
SchülerAkademie" (German Pupils Academy). Following a visit to one of the academies
in summer 2001, the Federal President of Germany assumed patronage over the Deutsche
SchülerAkademie, which the current President, Horst Köhler, decided to continue.

1.1 Objectives

The general purpose of the Deutsche SchülerAkademie is to provide an intellectual and

social challenge for the participants, to enhance their abilities, to establish contacts with
like-minded peers with similar potential and motivation, and to engage them in demanding
academic work under the supervision of expert instructors.
The most important objectives of the academies are
• to develop and improve methods and abilities of knowledge acquisition,
interdisciplinary thinking, research techniques and autonomous learning;
• to challenge intellectual potentials to their limits;

Corresponding author: Harald Wagner, Bildung und Begabung e.V.,
Wissenschaftszentrum, Ahrstr. 45, 53175 Bonn, Germany, E-mail: wagner@bildung-

• to improve techniques of oral and written presentations;
• to exercise cooperation and coordination in team work;
• to provide role models through encounters with highly creative, able, motivated
and inspiring teachers and scientists;
• to experience a community of able and motivated peers, to develop lasting
friendships and thus to accept oneself as valuable and "normal";
• to help pupils with career-planning decisions;
• to raise consciousness, that exceptional abilities carry the obligation to use them
in a pro-social manner and in responsible leadership.
Achievement motivation, willingness to exert oneself, ability to work in teams,
creativity, communication skills, interdisciplinary thinking, initiative and readiness to take
over responsibility are key elements of the pedagogical concept.

1.2 Structure

A 16-days academy typically comprises 90 boys and girls, each one participating
in one of six courses from a broad range of academic disciplines. As an example, one of
the academies in the summer of 2007 offered the following courses (a complete overview
of the courses offered in all academies of 2007 is to be found in the internet under
–“Indra's Pearls” (Fractal geometry and complex numbers)
–“Experimental physics – mechanics and fluid dynamics”
–“Software – hard science” (computer science)
–“Complex chemistry and its bio-anorganic relevance”
–“Poetry slam”
–“Can one argue rationally about moral issues? ”
While there are in each academy usually one course in mathematics, one or two
in the sciences, and one or two in the humanities, other courses may come from any
academic, scientific or cultural area such as introduction to a foreign language and culture
(Italian, Spanish, Polish, Chinese…), creative or journalistic writing, music history,
computer science, economics, psychology, rhetoric or visual arts to name just some
examples. Interdisciplinary subjects are favoured. The idea is to select a certain topic of a
discipline which can be treated in thorough depth and breadth within the 16 days and
which introduces participants to the terminology, methods, research techniques and
literature of that discipline. The total amount of time spent on course work is about 50
hours. The level of work is mostly comparable with advanced university seminars.
Two instructors plan and run each of the courses with a minimum daily duration
of 4-5 hours. The rest of the day is filled with additional optional activities such as sports,
music (instrumental, choir), excursions, discussions, drama etc. where participants from all
courses mix and meet.
Special emphasis is put on training and improving the ability to clearly formulate
and present research findings in oral and written form. Prior to the academy the
participants are expected to work through a compilation of relevant texts and to prepare a
presentation. Extracts from the written reports are later published for each academy in a
150-page proceedings ("Dokumentation"; several examples can be found under
www.schuelerakademie.de/kurse/index.html and www.deutsche-schuelerakademie.de/index.php?page=6).
Between 1988 and 2007 110 academies with more than 9,700 participants were
held in boarding schools which have proven to be ideal locations for such programmes in

Germany. In the summer of 2007 nine academies with a total of 780 participants took
place. A staff of seven people at Bildung und Begabung e.V. takes care of the
organisational tasks during the year; another 130 experts are annually needed to run the
academies and the courses.

1.3 Selection of participants and instructors

The ideal participant has a high intellectual ability, a strong motivation to achieve, diverse
interests, and has already demonstrated far above average achievements. He/she should
have completed grade 11 or 12 in the 13-year German school system and thus carry back
his/her impressions and experiences from the academy into his/her home school.
As there are no standardised achievement tests carried out routinely in Germany
(as e.g. the Scholastic Assessment Test – SAT in the United States) two different criteria
are applied to find suitable candidates:
a) successful participation in one of the intellectually demanding national or state
competitions and international olympiads or
b) recommendations from schools; each year all ca. 4,000 high schools in Germany
("Gymnasium" or "Gesamtschule") are individually requested to nominate one or two
outstanding pupils who would match the above-mentioned ideal profile. About 30 percent
of the schools respond to this request.
Over the years, both criteria have proven to be equally valid in finding the desired
candidates. In 2007 about 300 recommendations came from competitions while schools
provided some 1,700 names. A total of 2,069 pupils received a letter of invitation and the
catalogue with the description of the academies and the courses on offer. Regularly ca. 80
percent of the candidates apply for participation. As there are usually twice as many
qualified applications as there are places in the academies, difficult decisions have to be
made whom to admit and whom to decline. Additional relevant and comparable
information on the qualifications of the applicants is not available. Therefore, some
pragmatic strategies guide the decisions, including (a) the course chosen; (b) proper
representation of: boys and girls, winners in competitions and school nominees, the 16
federal states; (c) school grade level (higher ones preferred, lower ones may apply again in
the following year); (d) usually not more than one participant per school and no repeated
participation of the same pupil in order to include as many different schools and pupils as
Additionally, each year some 50 pupils from more than 20 foreign countries are
admitted. They are selected by partner organisations or their home schools. Fluent
command of German is an additional requirement for these candidates. A one week stay
prior to the academy with the family of a German fellow participant is usually arranged to
practice oral communication in German.
The staff of an academy consists of a director, an assistant (usually a recent
participant), an instructor for musical activities (choir, instrumental ensembles), and 6x2
instructors for the course work. The ideal profile for these persons would include expertise
in their fields, additional abilities and interests, pedagogical talent, cooperativeness,
idealism, and a willingness to become engaged in an intense and exhausting personal
involvement for 16 days. These idealists are found among expert teachers, academic
faculty and (in some cases) free-lancers. They receive a modest remuneration for their
considerable dedication, but most of them value the exceptional educational opportunity to
work with a highly able and motivated group of young people and they return year after

1.4 Finances

The Deutsche SchülerAkademie is financially supported to a considerable amount by the

Federal Ministry of Education and Science, by the Stifterverband für die Deutsche
Wissenschaft, by foundations, sponsors and donations. Therefore, the participants are
expected to pay a participation fee that covers only one third of the actual cost per place.
However, this still amounts to 550 Euro for the sixteen days and does not include travel
expenses to the academy. In order to ensure that no one who is eligible for the academies
has to refrain from participating just for financial reasons, a reduction of the fee, if
necessary down to a waiver is granted to families in need. As a rule of thumb 12 percent of
the participants are annually subsidised by reductions.

2. Effects of participation

Within a few days each of the academies develops an atmosphere which can hardly be
described, filled with enthusiasm and motivation of both participants and instructors, with
intensive personal relations, discussions, and gatherings until late at night. The numerous
overwhelmingly positive evaluations and feedback from participants, their home schools
and parents as well as from scientific programme evaluation confirm the immense impact
the academy has on the participants. Apart from the academic level, the company of
similarly interested and zealous young people is particularly praised which remains a
lasting impression and results in a network of friendships, reunions and joint academic and
leisure activities over the following years. Most of them are amazed by the energies that
can be mobilised and the amount of work that can be accomplished by the coordinated
efforts of inspired instructors and participants. Here are some typical examples of the
feedback the academies receive:
"The Academy was a very enriching experience for me. When I think of those two
weeks they're still so alive in me! The days were so tightly and interestingly packed, the
people so motivated and full of drive. It was great to always find people with whom you
could get something going or turn upside down. (In those days I came to realise how
much time you have to spend in everyday life just to get 'dull loafers' interested in
anything; and above all: how much you can achieve when everyone pulls together. All
at once you thrive in such a group and suddenly accomplish things you previously
would never have attempted.)… I found the Academy (particularly for good students)
terrifically important. One girl said to me: 'Do you know, in school I often used to feel
so different; I actually thought I was abnormal. But here suddenly everyone's the same
as me - I'm like all of them!' It was really a wonderful experience to meet 'like-minded'
and not continually have to hide the fact that you're good in school – or (much 'worse')
that you maybe even have fun there. Contact with the others then motivated me to stick
to studying and not let my fun and interest in specific subjects be taken away from me.
But aside from all these things it was the human component of the academy which I
found most rewarding. Many friendships evolved and remained for which I am very
thankful". (Participant)
"What can't be put down on paper is the enthusiasm and interest of the
participants which fundamentally distinguishes the SchülerAkademie from school. An
enthusiasm which was manifest in discussions on Immanuel Kant during the lunch
break or analytical conversations on course topics at lunch or dinner. An enthusiastic

exertion while preparing presentations, documentation and rotation which was
apparent particularly on the part of the instructors who devoted their all to us even
giving up a considerable amount of sleep. After the Academy I often missed the excited
talk and enthusiasm of fellow participants. ... Above all it became clear to me during
the Academy what fun learning new things can be. One occurrence that will stay in my
memory is the surprising feeling of suddenly having understood something."
"Contact with the other participants was a 'revelation' for Nele. Finally studying,
discussing etc. with peers who had similar interests and never tired of looking for
challenges – nor ever eased up when tackling problems even when great exertion was
required. ... By participating in the academy she was supported in an all-embracing
sense. ... By the way, Nele has resolved to offer her services to hold a course at the
Deutsche SchülerAkademie when she has progressed sufficiently in her studies."
"Dörte returned with extraordinarily positive impressions from the
SchülerAkademie. The programme provided her with considerable guidance
concerning decisions where to go after her school years. She plans now to study
physics. Dörte is pleased that through the alumni club losing contact with other
academy participants can be avoided and people she can talk to seriously remain
within reach. She feels she has been admitted to a network full of stimuli and
information." (Headmaster)
"I enjoyed the openness and natural curiosity of all the participants, got involved
till I dropped and came home deadbeat but happy to dream about the next academy."
(Instructor [2])

3. Criteria for success

These statements are exemplary for countless other similarly rapturous reports which the
organisers of the Deutsche SchülerAkademie receive year after year. What is it, what
makes the participants so enthusiastic? What are the secrets of the academies’
effectiveness? And how can we measure success?

3.1. Reactive measures

The immediate indicators for the quality of a programme are reactive measures, that is
statements, reports, feedback or questionnaires requested from participants, instructors,
academy directors, teachers or headmasters of the home school, or parents of participants.
Numerous features are mentioned in the above cited reports which are clearly
indicative of the academies, contrast with normal school routines and therefore are clearly
of particular significance for their impact and success:
• the company of like-minded peers, i.e. interested, achievement motivated,
enthusiastic and highly able students who are "on the same wavelength";
• the experience of their own growth as a result of the high standards; the
awareness of what they can achieve in coordinated team work and the ensuing
increase in self-confidence;
• feeling "normal" and completely accepted without having to "apologise" for their
special interests and standards or having to pretend;

• reinforcement of their enjoyment of academic work;
• the emergence of strong, profound and lasting friendships;
• the role model effect of inspiring and highly qualified specialist instructors;
• the "flow" experience connected with absorption in challenging work, the
experience of acquiring knowledge and suddenly grasping a difficult issue which
inspires further study.

3.2 Evaluative studies

The reactive measures are, of course, rather subjective and especially when taken at the
end of the programme, influenced by the euphoria and the enthusiasm which usually
develops in the course of the academies.
A more objective view on the effects of participation is provided by the results of
the extensive evaluation studies by Heinz Neber and Kurt A. Heller (University of
Munich, [3], [4], [5], [6]). According to self reports two to four years after participation
and compared with the best possible control group (pupils who had equally applied for
participation but could not be admitted simply due to lack of places) participants
experience an improvement of motivation and social attitudes such as interests, self-
confidence, cooperativeness and sociability (cf. Fig. 1). They report changes in the
awareness and the assessment of their own potential – in most cases positive, in a few
negative, however towards a more realistic view of their capabilities. Having been in an
academy eases the transition from school to university and helps with decisions concerning
university studies. The most important effect however seems to come from the guidance to
independent studies, the very close personal contact to the instructors and the encounter
with like-minded peers. Neber and Heller conclude: "The academy has primarily a general
promoting effect on development and competence. It clearly contributes in a positive way
to the psychic development of the participants and thus enhances prerequisites for coping
with challenging tasks." (Neber & Heller [5, p. 105, translated by the author]).
A further evaluative study is currently being carried out by Prof. Ernst Hany
(Erfurt University) which is to explore, in particular, the sustainability of the effects of
academy participation after a distance of ten or more years.

academic achievement

specific interests

specific self efficacy


general intelligence

communicative ability

trust in own abilities

self confidence

0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70

Figure 1: Effects of academy participation on cognitive, motivational and social

characteristics; self ratings ("Has the participation in the academy changed the
respective aspect?"), percentage of consenting students (N=237). Adapted from [5]
p. 104.

3.3 Non-reactive measures of sustaining effects of participation

Although the 16-day duration of the academies is relatively short, they do have lasting
effects. This can be shown by several actions and initiatives undertaken by the alumni.
Many former participants keep in touch through the alumni association CdE ("Club der
Ehemaligen"), organise reunions and holiday trips as well as academies for themselves and
establish regional groups at university sites. A bi-annual periodical "exPuls" provides a
forum for exchanging views and publishes reports on its members' activities. The alumni
club also paved the way for the emergence of the association "Jugendbildung in
Gesellschaft und Wissenschaft e.V." (Youth Education in Society and Science Inc.,
www.jgw-ev.de) which has been organising its own pupils academies since 2004, thus
creating additional capacity for those who cannot be accommodated by the Deutsche
SchülerAkademie. Numerous former participants who have already completed their
studies return to the Deutsche SchülerAkademie as instructors, and by now about one third
of the instructors are former participants.

4. Extension 1: Junior Academies

While the summer academies for senior secondary pupils undoubtedly play a most
important role for the development of talents, motivation, study habits, self-esteem, social
contacts etc., it was felt from the very beginning that this type of programme should
already be offered to younger pupils as is practised by e.g. the Center for Talented Youth
(CTY) at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, or the Talent Identification Program (TIP)
at Duke University, Durham, N.C.
In Germany gifted and talented pupils in the lower level (grades 5 – 10) of
secondary schools face little additional challenge or support from extracurricular

enrichment programmes. They all have to follow the prescribed timetable of their class
without the possibility to select subjects. Therefore, an early encounter with interesting and
demanding topics in settings outside school is highly desirable.
A matter of serious concern in Germany, as in many other countries, is the
dramatically declining number of university students in physics, mathematics, chemistry
and engineering. Many pupils tend to avoid these supposedly “tough” subjects in the upper
level of secondary school (grades 11 – 13) thus ruling out these subjects more or less as
options for university studies. Therefore pupils should have an opportunity much earlier in
their school years to explore their interests and abilities and be encouraged to engage in
activities in these fields – and this is especially important for girls who are still severely
under-represented and who undoubtedly form a largely untapped reservoir of talents. So it
was decided to develop a junior academy targeted at pupils in grades 7 and 8 (12 to 14
year-olds) and to put a strong emphasis on mathematics and sciences without, however,
totally neglecting the humanities. Furthermore it was decided to restrict participation to
pupils of the federal state of Rhineland Palatinate where the academy was to take place in
a boarding school. Since summer 2003 junior academies have been held annually [7].
Applicants are expected to be highly motivated and to have already demonstrated
exceptional achievement in or out of school, e.g. successful participation in an
intellectually challenging competition. The majority of applicants come from
recommendations from schools where each school may nominate not more than one or
two candidates. The number of courses was reduced from six in the “senior” academies to
four with up to 16 participants each.
Course work covers about half the time of the academic days while the other half
is filled with all kinds of activities (music and sports being the most important ones) where
pupils from all courses can mix. About 60 percent of the pupils play an instrument,
therefore a full time musician is part of the academic staff (site director and assistant, and
eight instructors, two for each course) as is the rule in the “senior” academies. He conducts
daily choir rehearsals and arranges and advises instrumental ensembles to work towards a
generally quite remarkable public concert. Musical activities have a strong integrating
effect on the whole academy. Other activities include drama, visual arts, games and

4.1 Results

As can be judged from the five junior academies held so far*, this concept is also a great
success. The participants were enthusiastic about the 16 days. They praised the excellent
working atmosphere, the amount of independence and responsibility they were granted by
their “cool” instructors, and the absence of marking. The course work was judged to be
demanding, challenging, and rewarding. The instructors were very pleased with the high
motivation and the quality of course work and presentations given by the pupils. They
observed, however, certain differences between the “juniors” and the “seniors” in the
traditional academies:

We acknowledge gratefully the financial support of the Zurich Group, the Klaus
Tschira Foundation and the Ministry of Education of Rhineland-Palatinate.

1. Many of the juniors had difficulties systematically developing and following a
path from a specific problem through to a solution. They lacked not only methodical
abilities but also endurance and the insight to be responsible for their own learning.
2. The pupils needed many impulses from outside to achieve learning results,
they needed detailed instructions and task descriptions but then they set off with joy,
dedication and creativity, so that the instructors had to take care that the pupils did not
become overexcited.
3. These pupils usually hold top positions in their schools. Thus they are not used
to criticism and find it difficult to handle. They have to learn to accept criticism as a
chance for improvement and growth.
4. The “juniors” seemed to be less willing and able to devise their own leisure
time activities. Due to their younger age and less practice their musical abilities (playing an
instrument) were less developed; this influenced the selection of scores for concerts.
5. While most of the concept and structure of the “senior” academies can be
transferred to the junior academy without substantial changes some aspects need special
attention: the juniors need more guidance and an emphasis on the development of
autonomous learning and knowledge acquisition and the ability to work in teams.
To improve the group dynamics from the very beginning and to get detailed
information about the individual abilities and knowledge levels of the participants it was
decided to have a preparatory meeting with the pupils well ahead of the academy.
Meanwhile, organisations in seven other German federal states have established
similar programmes which are promoted under the umbrella of "Deutsche
JuniorAkademien" (German Junior Academies). This label is intended to stand as a
hallmark for high quality residential summer programmes for highly able and motivated
pupils in the middle level of high school in Germany and to inspire other institutions and
federal states to develop similar programmes. To be included in the Deutsche
JuniorAkademien a programme has to fulfil certain requirements concerning minimum
duration, qualification criteria for participants and instructors, the variety of disciplines
presented in the courses and the provision to allow for reductions of the participation fee
for needy families. Bildung und Begabung e.V. plays the role of coordinator of these

5. Extension 2: International academies

In 2003, a grant from the Haniel Foundation made possible the development of
multinational academies to improve and intensify the relationship to our eastern
neighbouring countries in the realm of talent development.
In a first attempt young people from Poland, Hungary, the Czech and Slovak
Republics and from Germany where brought together in a boarding school of the
Benedictine Abbey of Metten, Bavaria. Four courses with 16 participants each were held,
German being the working language. While the schedule of the multinational academy
mainly followed the approved pattern of the tradition academies certain elements were
added to enhance mutual understanding by presentations of the participating countries,
their culture, language, traditional recipes, songs etc. The enormous success of the
multinational academies 2003 to 2006 encouraged the Haniel Foundation to extend its
support for a second multinational academy which had its premiere in August 2007 in the
boarding school Schloss Torgelow, appr. 150 km to the north-west of Berlin with pupils

from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Germany, while the other multinational
academy in Bavaria continued its programme with participants from Hungary, Romania,
The Czech and Slovak Republics and Germany.
Participants from the foreign countries are usually recommended by their home
school; some have excelled in German language competitions. A very good command of
German, outstanding intellectual abilities, high achievement motivation and broad interests
are the most important prerequisites to be eligible as a participant.
The participation fee is substantially reduced for foreign participants: The
nominal amount of 100 Euro may be further reduced or even waived for families in need.
The participants, however, in any case have to pay their travel expenses at least to the
German border.
All schools, psychologists and counsellors in the participating countries are
strongly encouraged to recommend suitable pupils, preferably from grade 11 (ca. 17 year-
olds) to info@deutsche-schuelerakademie.de.


[1] Center for Talented Youth (CTY) (2007). CTY Summer Programs 2007 - 7th grade and above.
Baltimore, Maryland: Johns Hopkins University / Center for Talented Youth.
[2] Huchzermeyer, B. (2006). Zweieinhalb Wochen im Ausnahmezustand. (Two and One Half Weeks in
Exceptionality.) Spektrum der Wissenschaft, February, 78-81.
[3] Wagner, H., Neber, H. & Heller, K. A. (1995). The BundesSchülerAkademie – A Residential Summer
Program for Gifted Adolescents in Germany. In M. W. Katzko & F. J. Mönks (Eds.), Nurturing Talent.
Individual Needs and Social Ability. The Fourth Conference of the European Council for High Ability (pp.
281-291). Assen, The Netherlands: Van Gorcum.
[4] Neber, H. & Heller, K. A. (1996). Auswirkungen der Deutschen SchülerAkademie auf Schule und
Studium (Effects of the German Pupils Academy upon School and University Studies). Bonn:
Bundesministerium für Bildung, Wissenschaft, Forschung und Technologie. (Research Report Published by
the Federal Ministry for Education, Science, Research and Technology, Bonn.)
[5] Neber, H. & Heller, K. A. (1997). Deutsche SchülerAkademie. Ergebnisse der wissenschaftlichen Begleit-
forschung (German Pupils Academy. Results of Evaluative Research). Bonn: Bundesministerium für
Bildung, Wissenschaft, Forschung und Technologie. (Research Report Published by the Federal Ministry for
Education, Science, Research and Technology, Bonn.)
[6] Neber, H. & Heller, K. A. (2002). Evaluation of a Summer-School Program for Highly Gifted Secondary-
School Students: The German Pupils Academy. European Journal of Psychological Assessment (18), 214-
[7] Wagner, H. (2005). Extending the German Pupils Academy to Younger Secondary School Pupils: The
German Junior Academies. In P. Csermely, T. Korcsmáros & L. Lederman (Eds.), Science Education: Best
practices of Research Training for Students Under 21 (pp. 91-96). Amsterdam: IOS Press.

The authors gratefully acknowledge the help of Menna Jones with the English translation.


Professional Support for Young Talents in

Science – Examples of Good Practice
Summer Science Factory – an Alternative
Approach to Science Education
Darja DUBRAVČIĆ a,1 , and Tamara MILOŠEVIĆ b
Faculty of Science, University of Zagreb, Zagreb, Croatia
Mediterranean Institute for Life Sciences, Split, Croatia

Abstract. The Summer Science Factory is an international summer science school

for children aged 8 to 16 years organized for the first time in 2007 at the
Mediterranean Institute for Life Sciences (MedILS), Split, Croatia. Aiming at making
science accessible and attractive, this project wishes to improve the science education
using facilities of a research centre, children’s interaction with young scientists and
hands-on projects and experiments. The evaluation of the first Summer Science
Factory is presented, together with suggestions for improving the program and future

Keywords. science, education, children, youths, MedILS, Summer Science Factory


The Summer Science Factory was envisioned as part of the more global summer
school taking place in 2007 at the Mediterranean Institute for Life Sciences (MedILS). The
idea emerged as a combined product of the new, free and interdisciplinary approach to
science nurtured at MedILS and the current situation in science education provided in
schools. Given the fact that today’s school programs are mainly focused on very formal
transfer of knowledge from teachers to students, and very little on fun experiments,
projects and problems solving tasks, the interest and motivation arising from students
themselves is very low. On the other hand motivated students are very often left on their
own with their interests and ideas. The Summer Science Factory is a project created for
every motivated child and aims to foster and encourage their interest in science by giving
them new, fun approach through hands-on experiments, models, problem solving tasks and
games in the environment where others share the same curiosity. Through this vision the
name of the project arose, Summer Science Factory (Fig. 1). Like Charlie`s Chocolate
Factory, we wanted it to be a science factory of fun, imagination and magic, where nothing
is impossible and every idea is given a thought, counted like a little magic by itself.

Correponding author: Darja Dubravčić, Department of Biology, Faculty of Science,
Horvatovac 102a, Zagreb, Croatia, E-mail: darja.dubravcic@gmail.com.

Figure 1. The Summer Science Factory Logo

1. Materials and Methods

1.1 Participants

Participants involved in this project included 27 children and youths, majority coming
from the city of Split and others accompanying their parents who were participating in
MedILS Summer School as lecturers (Table 1.).

Table 1. The Summer Science Factory participants in numbers

Sex distribution Age distribution

female 12 <9 3
male 15 9 4
10 4
11 4
Origin distribution 12 4
Croatia 20 13 2
abroad 7 14 5
15 2

The application procedure included filling out the application form and writing a
motivational statement indicating the child’s motives for applying. All applicants from the
city of Split were invited for an interview at the Institute, to get to know the place where the
project would be taking place. The interview included a short interview with each child, an
interview with the child’s parents and an observation of social skills and ability to interact
in English while children were waiting for an interview and playing group games.
The selection of applicants consisted of an elimination procedure which included
ranking children’s motivation, understanding of spoken English, and the level of
interaction. The most important factor was judging children’s motivation by asking
questions about their expectations, but also their prior encounters with science in school,
television shows or through projects. Children who had low motivation were not selected
when it was obvious that there was a parental pressure put on them. Understanding of
spoken English was a problem only for very young applicants, and they were not selected
as the problems of understanding the scientific content in a foreign language could turn
them away from science. Children who had not interacted with other children during group
activities or had problems in conversation during the interview were not selected because of
the highly dynamic and group-oriented nature of the project.

1.2 Moderators

In order to escape the generation gap that may arise and interfere with the teaching of
science in a fun and different way, special care has been taken in choosing the moderators
who would transfer their knowledge to youths, but also take part in the group dynamics and
interactions during group-bonding activities.
Moderators included 16 students and young scientists coming from Croatia and
France. Specialists in pedagogy and psychology were involved to help in formation of a
healthy and balanced learning atmosphere.
Specific workshops were led by moderators who had scientific knowledge in specific
fields, with others participating in the workshop as additional teachers after they have been
acquainted with workshop aims and procedure prior to the workshop.

1.3 Time and Place

Considering the yearly schedule of school children, the project was held from August 5th
to 19th 2007. during summer vacation. The workshops were carried out each day,
beginning at 9 am and ending at 4 pm (Fig. 2). Last day was reserved for a 3-hour
presentation of the 2-week program, which included exhibition of posters and models
created during the workshops and group presentations of exceptional experiments the
children have performed themselves for their parents.

Figure 2. Schematic view of daily workshop organization

Mediterranean Institute for Life Sciences (MedILS) located in Split, Croatia, has been
the venue of this project. This Institute cherishes creativity and multidisciplinarity with a
special emphasis on educating the next generation of free-thinking scientists and therefore
was the best place to start a novel approach in teaching science to youths. Every
opportunity was taken to conduct the workshops “out of the classroom”, performing
experiments at the laboratories used for ongoing research projects at the Institute, or
making use of a beautiful pine forest and shore in the surroundings of the Institute.
The Summer Science Factory tried to take the best advantage of being part of the
MedILS Summer School, a one-month interdisciplinary program consisting of 6 scientific
and educational workshops that gathered more than 150 science students and young
scientists from 20 countries around the world. Children had an opportunity to observe
scientists away from experiments, involved in lectures and brainstorming discussions in an
interdisciplinary and international environment.

1.4 Themes and Groups

Scientific areas covered through hands-on experiments, field trips, computer simulations
and group projects included physics, geophysics, astronomy, chemistry and biology (Table
2). Basic concept was to introduce science in a fun and different way which required
careful selection of topics and ideas. Instead of teaching science like it is taught in schools,
all of the scientific fields were integrated throughout the workshops, which began with the
most familiar thing – our bodies and how they work. The workshops continued further into
the exploration of evolution and ecosystems, gradually zooming in to microorganisms,
followed by the zooming out to the stars and electricity.

Table 2. List of workshops during the Summer Science Factory

Mr. Skeleton: The secret of the bones
Digestion system: One way trip
Dr. Neno: Is there a doctor in the building?
WE HUMANS Illusions: Crazy thoughts
Brain: Getting to know the Boss
Neurons: High speed train
Dr. Loony: How normal are you?
Why everything is the way it is: The perfection of creation
Heating up: Do you feel hot?
Rock`n`roll planet called Earth
Plants: Living on the edge
Marine biology: The magic of the sea
Bacteria: Our friends and enemies
Yeast and genetics: Who are my mom and dad?
MICROBIOLOGY E. coli: Watch me go!
Genetics: Seeing the DNA
Let's analyze: What we thought we cannot see
Everything around us is chemistry
Magical world of the candle
CHEMISTRY Colours: Where do they come from?
Acids and bases: Learn it from the plants
Electricity: The world of the citrus fruits
Matter and light: Riding on the waves
Sight: Seeing the light
Sun: What is the time?
ASTRONOMY Planets: How big they really are
Magic of the Universe

Although the emphasis was put on the science, significant amount of time was
assigned for group activities, such as group-bonding games and sports, but also for
creation of posters and models as representation of children’s newly acquired information
and concepts (Fig. 3).
All the activities were been performed in English because of the international nature
of the whole project. Additional translation of more complex concepts to French and
Croatian was employed for the youngest children.
As the nature of all workshops was based on team-work activities, constant care was
directed towards forming the most functional groups of participants, based on the nature of
specific workshops. Given the big age difference among participants groups were mostly
formed according to age. Whenever possible, heterogeneous groups were formed in order
to facilitate exchange of experiences and knowledge between different age groups and

Figure 3. Photographs showing activities on workshops (clockwise starting top left): Global warming, DNA
extraction, Digestion system, Acids and bases

1.5 Funding

One of the basic requirements for initiating educational programs is ensuring that the
financial aspect does not hinder the realization of the project. Many project proposals with
detailed budget plans were submitted to committees of major companies in Croatia, as
well as to the EMBO (European Molecular Biology Organisation).
The budget was covered by a generous donation of Croatian T-Com and EMBO
Grant for Projects and initiatives in Science and Society and has enabled fee-free
participation of all children. Local fundraising had proved useful for covering small
expenses and a donation of laboratory supplies from a supplier company enabled enough
resources for each child to perform experiments.

2. Results

a. Participants’ Evaluations

In order to acquire feed back from children taking part in this project, an evaluation
questionnaire has been given to each participant at the end of the 2-week workshops
program. After analysing the evaluation questionnaire, following results were observed.

b. Group Dynamics

When asked to identify the problems in group work, children have pointed out:
• dominant and loud individuals
• inappropriate jokes
• egoistic behaviour of some participants
• inability to reach common opinion
• English language

c. Level of Acquired Knowledge

In order to get information if children have improved their knowledge of science through
interactive hands-on approach and group work, we asked them to select their favourite
workshops and the workshops they learned the most from (Fig. 4), but also to choose their
favourite activity during the workshops (Fig. 5).

How would you grade the workshops?



DNA extraction


Planet Earth

Human brain

Marine Biology
Electrical circuit

Solar planets

Acids and bases
Digestion system
Mysterious Candle

most interesting
most informative

Figure 4. Votes for most interesting workshops were obtained by asking participants to choose their top 5
most interesting workshops, while they chose mostly only one workshop as the most informative (N=19)

What was your favourite activity?

12% 10%
poster making

12% games
26% experiments
model making

Figure 5. Diagram representing activities participants have favored the most, each participant naming one or
more activities (N=19)

d. Motivation

As motivation was a key concept for selecting participants to take part in this project, their
motivation during the project would indicate if the applied methods were beneficial on
individual level. Participants have been asked to comment on their activity during the
workshops and to suggest what factors would motivate them to actively contribute even
more (Fig. 6). To test participants’ satisfaction with their participation in the overall
activities, they have been asked if their expectations have been met (Fig. 7).

How w ould you gr ade your activity in w or k s hops ? What w ould m otivate you to be m or e active in
w or k s hops ?
0% 1
33% m or e e xpe r im e nts
3 11%
11% m or e fun
20% 4
45% inte r e s ting le ctur e s
27% m or e outdo or activie s

22% cr e ative w or k s h ops

Figure 6. Self-grading of participants’ activity during workshops (1 being the lowest grade, 5 being the
highest) and identification of one or more key elements that would be even more motivating (N=15)

Did Summer Science Factory fulfil your expectations?

42% no

58% mostly


Figure 7. Participants’ satisfaction with participation in the Summer Science Factory (N=19)

Making science more accessible and interesting was one of the approaches to
positively influence children’s opinion towards science, and was addressed through
questions of choosing science as a profession in the future, and possible changes in their
perception of scientists (Fig. 8).

Has your view of scientists changed? Do you see yourself as a scientist in the future?

20% yes
11% no
I don't know
80% 73%

Figure 8. Diagrams represent positive change in attitude towards scientists (explanations

include “it seems like an interesting job”, “scientists can be social creatures, and I thought
they were nerds”, “they are open and friendly like everyone else”) and a low percentage of
participants not interested in choosing a scientific profession (N=19)

3. Discussion

We have used results of participants’ evaluations as an indicator of success of the methods

we have applied to approach science education in an alternative and attractive way.
Although choosing a wide age range, we have tried to integrate younger participants with
older, but this has proven to be very difficult, as is indicated in the section regarding
problems in group work. Children have been dissatisfied when the outcome of their team-
work projects were affected by individuals over expressing their will, which may be
avoided by forming smaller groups of the same age and frequently monitoring individual
effects on the whole group.
English as a foreign language for all participants has been a problem, as level of
understanding varied greatly, not only between age groups, but also within an age group.
More thorough evaluation of understanding spoken English needs to be employed during
the selection process, if the international character of the project will be fostered.

Translating all content to children’s mother language is time-consuming and interferes
with group dynamics.
Considering the content presented during the whole project there was a large
preference to more attractive, interactive hands-on workshops, although they were not
always appreciated as the most informative. Results of the participants’ favourite
workshops also suggest they have graded workshops of the second week higher, and the
cause of this may be that they have forgotten of some interesting workshops taking part at
the beginning. The key to avoid this bias is to evaluate workshops after each day when the
memory of the activities is still fresh. Choosing experiments and games as the most
interesting parts of the workshop is an indicator that these activities are the best ones to use
to introduce scientific concepts and critical thinking to youths.
Participants’ motivation was stable throughout the project, and no participant has
graded their own participation in a negative way, but additional creative workshops and
experiments would boost the activity even more. The fact that majority of children were
completely satisfied, and other mostly satisfied with their participation in the Summer
Science Factory is reassuring and indicates the program has met their needs and
The effect of this project on children’s perception in science has proven to be
beneficial, as they have had slightly negative opinion about scientist being introverted,
crazy and unsocial behaviour. Being in close proximity with senior scientists taking part in
scientific workshops and everyday communication and interaction with young scientists
has had a general positive effect which is also shown in the fact that a only small portion of
participants are not at all considering a carrier in science.

4. Future Prospects

After successfully finishing the first Summer Science Factory great enthusiasm for
working with motivated youths is a driving force for planning future development of the
whole scheme. We plan to continue this project, inviting more young experts to join and
offer their knowledge to the youth.
As one of the aims of the Summer Science Factory is narrowing the gap between
science and new generations, we also aspire to involve youths, especially the ones that
participated in this years program, in creating projects on their own, with young scientists
serving as catalysts in that process. Bearing in mind this year’s experience and expected
increase in the number of applicants who wish to participate, an idea of a repeating one-
week program has emerged, focusing on interactive and creative experiments and games in
the beginning and brainstorming and creating projects towards the end of the program.
Whit this approach we would like to introduce them more to scientific way of thinking and
scientific methods that will serve them as key start in solving future problems.
Finally, as we have shown here, offering an alternative science education program in
a research centre can be very attractive and beneficial, so we hope our idea will evolve and
propagate itself reaching more and more motivated children around the world, ultimately
influencing the community and helping in education of the new generation of scientists.

5. Useful Resources on the Web

ƒ Summer Science Factory 2007 http://www.medils.org/ssf2007

ƒ Mediterranean Institute for Life Sciences http://www.medils.org
ƒ EMBO Science and Society Programme http://www.embo.org/scisoc/index.html

“I Love Biochemistry”: More Than Ten
Years On
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and Institute for Research in
Biomedicine, University of Barcelona.

Abstract. Here we present the results from eleven years of the “I Love Biochemistry” course. This initiative
focuses on promoting research vocation in talented secondary school students. Furthermore, this course
provides an excellent opportunity for graduate students to gain experience in science teaching. Moreover, this
course seeks to improve university-secondary school relationships.

Keywords. Biochemistry, secondary school, students, course.


"I love biochemistry" (I tu? Jo, Bioquímica) [1,2] has been running for 11 years as a
summer course for talented secondary school students in their final year. This kind of
course complies with one of the six categories of out-of-school science experiences
described by Subotnik [3]. The lectures and lab practices have contributed to widening
students’ scope of biochemistry.
The main features of the course are:
• Organization: The Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology of the
University of Barcelona [4, 5] designed this course in collaboration with The
Spanish Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (SEBBM) [6] and
The Department of Education of The Government of Catalonia [7].
• Objectives: To increase research vocation among talented secondary school
students and support those who are potentially interested in Biochemistry and
Molecular and Cellular Biology.
• Target: Final year secondary school students (public and private education) in
Catalonia and the surrounding regions interested in Biochemistry and
Molecular and Cellular Biology. The course usually takes place the last week
of June.
• Structure: Monday to Friday (five-day course). The course includes laboratory
sessions (DNA extraction, glucose concentration measurement, cell culture,
protein structure analysis by Internet, etc.), lectures (metabolism, DNA and
RNA, microbiology, biotechnology, gene therapy, etc.).
• Lab sessions: Biochemistry graduate students are laboratory instructors of the
course and in this way they have the opportunity to explore science teaching.
Instructors give participants an overview of scientific details, the use of
instruments and a protocol of each experiment before it is started. Instructors
and Faculty members stimulate discussion among students through

Corresponding author: Josep M. Fernández-Novell: Department of Biochemistry and
Molecular Biology, University of Barcelona, Avgda. Diagonal 645, Edifici nou, planta
-1, 08028 Barcelona, Spain; E-mail: jmfernandeznovell@ub.edu.

“brainstorming” and round table sessions on results, procedures and research
• Lectures: These are given by university professors who cover relevant aspects
of Biochemistry and Molecular and Cellular Biology that have a considerable
impact on society, such as issues on basic research, health, genetics and ethics.
Exchanges between students and the speaker make lectures highly interactive.
• Course feedback: A questionnaire is used to obtain an evaluation of the
course. Furthermore, every year participants from previous courses are asked
to report on their academic trajectory.

1. Course Applications.

In the eleven years that this course has been running, a total of 5842
applications have been received; 61 of these have been rejected because the applicants
did not meet the course entry requirements. Organized during the first selection round,
the biochemistry laboratory practices have been attended by 1128 students. Of these,
264 were accepted to do the full course. Furthermore, in the eleven years of the course,
more than 340 secondary schools have participated and more than 990 science teachers
have been involved (Table I).

Table I.
Course applications. TOTAL
Number of Applicants 5842
Number of Students Selected for the first round interviews 1128
Final Number of Students Accepted 264
Secondary Schools Involved 342
Secondary School Teachers Involved 991

2. University Degree Choices.

Analysis of participants’ questionnaires show that 4 out of 10 students have enrolled in

a Biology degree, and more than 3 out 10 in Medicine, while fewer have registered in
Pharmacy (14 %) and Chemistry (11 %).(Figure)

% University science degrees

Chemistry; 10,6 Rest; 3,4

Pharmacy; 14 Biology; 40,2

Medicine; 31,8

3. Key Characteristics of the Course.

• The Student Selection Process. It was based on a combination of

recommendation letters provided by secondary school teachers, student’s own
“statement of interest” letters, and personal interviews. The first selection round
focused on student academic records and recommendation letters, which resulted
in the pre-selection of 100-110 candidates. These students were then interviewed
by instructors and Faculty members to assess their degree of motivation and
interest. Before interviews, the students were given the opportunity to spend
around 3 hours performing biochemistry experiments in a laboratory. Finally, a
group of 24 students, identified as the most hardworking and motivated, were
chosen to follow the course.
• The relationship between students and teachers. Students and instructors spent as
much one-on-one time as possible so as to develop factual knowledge, laboratory
techniques, etc. The age proximity between students and instructors motivated
communication. Furthermore, very good interaction between students and
lecturers was also noted. Most of the lecturers joined the group for lunch, thus
facilitating further discussion in a more informal atmosphere.
• The student-research relationship. No absenteeism was detected and students
compared their experimental results and conclusions. They were encouraged to
ask questions and to think rationally and methodically about research and
biochemistry. The process of questioning reinforced the knowledge learnt.
University teachers and instructors considered that 95% of the students were
actively involved in the research they performed.
• Round tables. Given that the transition from secondary to university education
involves a long period of adaptation for many students, the round table sessions
focused on university education requirements, student aspirations and

4. Follow-up.

The fundamental features of long-term evaluation were:

• The follow-up of all students who participated in the course (Table II):
A large proportion of the students (80 %) have maintained contact with the
course organizers and more than 95 % have enrolled in degrees in which biochemistry is
compulsory. In addition, 3 out of 10 course students went on to enrol in a Biochemistry
degree* and 2 out of 10 in PhD programmes related to Biochemistry and Molecular and
Cellular Biology. (*In Spain, university science degrees are structured into three periods or
cycles, Biochemistry is a second cycle degree, therefore to enroll in this discipline,
students are required to have completed the first cycle, two to three years, in life-science
degrees or chemistry.)

Table II
Student follow-up. TOTAL
Final number of students accepted 264
Number of students who have remained in contact with us. 80 %
Students enrolled in degrees in which biochemistry is compulsory, 95.1 %
Students who went on to enrol in a Biochemistry degree 28 %
Students who went on to enrol in PhD programme related to 18 %

• Continued research interest. Some of the students continued to participate

voluntarily in extra-curricular research, thereby furthering their knowledge of
biochemistry. In their first university year, students have spent a couple of weeks
working on a research project together with university teachers and scientists.
During this time, they can use standard techniques in biochemistry and have the
opportunity to learn particular methods in which they are interested.
• “I love Biochemistry”-Club. A couple of times a year a large number of former
students hold a get-together. Initially a scientific/research lecture is presented by
several participants. These speakers are normally graduate students enrolled on a
PhD programme and all participants are given the opportunity to discuss the
presentations. Usually questions are raised regarding general biochemistry and
research. Students also ask the teachers of the “I love Biochemistry” course
questions about university degrees, subjects, future options, etc. These meetings
are held in an informal atmosphere, and therefore participants are not pressured to
end fruitful discussion.

5. Conclusions.

In designing the “I love Biochemistry” course and its follow-up activities, we aimed to
develop a setting in which to encourage learning and passion for Biochemistry and
Molecular and Cellular Biology. Secondary school students have received the course
with interest and have greatly appreciated the chance to participate in this initiative.
Furthermore, this course has served to provide instructors with a sound initial training
as science teachers. Finally, this course is a good example of how to improve
university-secondary school relationships.

Worthy of note has been the response of secondary school science teachers to
this course. This community has requested the Biochemistry Department of the
University of Barcelona to design a programme to provide continuing education for
teachers [8].

6. Acknowledgements.

We thank T. Yates for her assistance in preparing the English manuscript. The courses
were supported by the University of Barcelona, the Sociedad Española de Bioquímica y
Biologia Molecular (SEBBM) and the Department of Education of The Government of
Catalonia (Generalitat de Catalunya)


[1] J.M. Fernàndez-Novell, R.R. Gomis, E. Cid, A. Barberà and J.J. Guinovart. Bridging the gap in
biochemistry between secondary school and university. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Education. 30 (2002) 172-174.
[2] Fernández-Novell, J. M. and Guinovart, J. (2005) Promoting biochemical research in the secondary
school. Science Education: Best practices of Research Training for students under 21. P. Csermely et al
Eds. IOS Press. Amsterdam, Netherlands.
[3] Subotnik, R (2005) Out of school science programs for talented students: a comparison. Science
Education: Best practices of Research Training for students under 21. P. Csermely et al Eds. IOS Press.
Amsterdam, Netherlands.
[4] M. Martínez, B. Gros, T. Romaña. The problem of training in Higher Education. Higher Education in
Europe, vol XXIII, n. 4 (1998) 483-495.
[5] www.ub.es
[6] www.sebbm.bq.ub.es
[7] www.xtec.es
[8] J.M. Fernàndez-Novell, E. Cid, R.R. Gomis, A. Barberà and J.J. Guinovart. A Biochemistry and
Molecular Biology Course for Secondary School Teachers. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Education. 32 (2004) 378-380.

CusMiBio: an opportunity for talented young
people in biosciences
Cinzia GRAZIOLI a, Paolo PLEVANI b, Maria Luisa TENCHINI c
and Giovanna VIALE c,1
Liceo Scientifico “Vittorio Veneto”, Milan, Italy
Dept. of Biomolecular Sciences and Biotechnology, University of Milan, Italy
Dept. of Biology and Genetics for Medical Sciences, University of Milan, Italy

Abstract. “Attend a top science research projects”, is a Cus-Mi-Bio new initiative

involving, throughout the entire school year long, selected High School students to
promote their predisposition for science studies and research activity. We will present
the results of the 2007 project “Following the footsteps of evolution, looking for new

Keywords. Talented High School students, University, Cus-Mi-Bio, science studies,

research activity, bioinformatics, new genes


Biology is producing more data and new findings per year than any other science, and it’s
accelerating fast. That has consequences for both research and education.
This rising “data flood” can be “metabolized” only if strongly integrative work, together
with new research methods, are going to be developed. As a consequence, rapidly growing
trans-disciplinary branches of biology are growing up and becoming major areas of the
“New Biology”.
There is a lot of new information to learn, and more skills are necessary to interpret them.
To face this challenge, the education system must be able to develop a new
generation of scientists and researchers. The quality of students in School and University
becomes a crucial priority for our educational systems.
The present situation in secondary school education in Biology is a very critical
one [1]. Major problems involve both teachers and students.
• Overloaded, outdated curricula;
• Outdated text books (10 – 15 yrs);
• Insufficient time for teachers to cover contents;
• Lack of proper practical work;
• Deficiency in the students’ interest and enthusiasm for Biology. Biology is
usually perceived as a “soft option” by students as a consequence of the
restricted space/time dedicated to it in the curricula

Corresponding author: Department of Biology and Genetics for Medical Sciences,
University of Milan, via Viotti 3/5, 20133 Milan, Italy; E-mail:

In conclusion:
• Teachers need updating, need to recover a social role and to receive new
stimuli to work in a more participated, creative and effective way.
• At the same time, undergraduate students need a novel and more discovery-
based science education to develop interest and enthusiasm for biosciences.
An University School in Biology must aim to recruit the best freshmen in order to obtain
good graduates. It follows that University and High School have to discuss and plan
together new initiatives to improve students education. This is what we are trying to do at
the University of Milano.
In this context, in 2004, the University of Milano [2] started a close collaboration
with the Educational School Office of Lombardy [3], a big institution coordinating all
public High Schools in Lombardy (about 1.000 schools, over 1.500 life science teachers
and more than 300.000 students). The result of the collaborative agreement between the
two institutions has been the establishment of a center specifically dedicated to science
education for High Schools. This center has been called Cus-Mi-Bio, whose acronymous
means Center of the University and High School of Milan for Bioscience education ([4])
This center wants to be a bridge between the two educational systems, University
and High School. Cus-Mi-Bio believes that all institutions dealing with science education,
including University, should make efforts for raising interest in science. However, the
diffusion of scientific culture is a complex and articulated task; there are a lot of players
and subjects to integrate in order to reach this goal. In any case, a key step in this direction
is to improve and stimulate science education in High Schools.
CusMiBio activities are directed toward two players: High School teachers and
High School students. High School teachers participate at continuing education groups
that meet regularly under the supervision of an University teacher to provide them constant
scientific and cultural updating (up to now, more than 500 High School teachers attended
these initiatives). The practical products of these education groups are publications that can
be used by the teachers during their work at school and the development of laboratory
activities that will be offered to the students (see “Try the BioLab” activities). Moreover,
specific courses on the frontiers of modern biology are organized for the teachers.
For the High School students, Cus-Mi-Bio has dedicated fully equipped biology
and bioinformatics laboratories. In these spaces they will practice the “Try the BioLab”
activities with the final aim to increase their interest in biosciences, to promote their
understanding of science content and process. In this way we believe to provide them with
adequate support for conscious planning of their future studies and to attract young people
to careers in science and technology.
The major initiative for High School students are hands-on activities to be
performed in the dedicated laboratories located at the University Campus. These labs are
equipped with high-tech materials and instruments, usually not available in High School
Up to now, more than 9.000 students have participated in at least one of the “Try
the Biolab” initiatives which are focused on hot topics of genetics and biotechnology
(DNA fingerprinting, GMO, Genetic diseases, Gene hunting).
The selection strategy underlying Cus-Mi-Bio activities for High School students
is “From many to few”: all the students can take part in “Try the BioLab”, but only the
most motivated and skilled can participate in a competition to select 10-15 students/year
who, at the end of their school year, will perform the stage "A week as a researcher" in a
national or international research lab in the bioscience field (Fig. 1). This contest

represents a real scientific challenge for the participants and invariably selects very
talented young students.

First selection step

performed by each class
~6.000  multiple choice questions
(the same for all classes)

Second selection step

Students attending at Cus-Mi-Bio:
“Try the BioLab” 220  computer-assisted + oral
(~ 280 classes) evaluations

Best student from

each class

Fig. 1. Selection steps in “A week as a researcher” and “One-month stage in an international lab” prizes
reserved to talented High School students attending Bio-Lab activities. Numbers refer to 2007 edition.

Moreover, Cus-Mi-Bio does not want to loose the talented students selected through the
annual student contest. Therefore, a new project, “Attend a top science research project”
was launched, for combining professional-quality research with a strategy for research-
based undergraduate education.

Attend a top science research project

In October 2006, a new initiative reserved to the most talented students to further develop
their predisposition for science and their attitude for research was launched: "Attend a top
science research project". It consists in a research-based undergraduate education project
involving, throughout the entire school year, selected High School students in a real top
science research program (Fig. 2). "Following the footsteps of evolution, looking for new
genes" is the 2006-07 research project, which consists in a bioinformatic analysis of the
human genome, aimed at the discovery of novel and as yet unidentified genes.
Bioinformatics, molecular evolution and molecular medicine are rare to be found
in European secondary curricula. Through a bioinformatic approach, molecular evolution
and molecular medicine can be covered.
The newest areas in biology do not have to be taught formally; indeed they can
be covered effectively by more participatory, discovery and literature-based methods.

Fig. 2. Talented High School students in University of Milano during a bioinformatic activity.

“Following the footsteps of evolution, looking for new genes”

The 10 winners of the prize and other 35 students with the best positions in the selection
process were enrolled in this long-term stage called "Following the footsteps of evolution,
looking for new genes". As anticipated, the research project consisted in a bioinformatic
analysis (Fig. 3) of the human genome, aimed to discover novel genes. The students were
split into small groups, and each had assigned a different part of the human genome
(belonging to the regions selected in the ENCyclopedia Of DNA Elements (ENCODE)
Project) (Fig. 4). The ENCODE project aims to identify all functional elements in the
human genome. The pilot phase of the Project is focused on a specified 30 megabases
(~1%) of the human genome sequence and it is organized as an international consortium of
computational and laboratory-based scientists working to develop and apply high-
throughput approaches for detecting all sequence elements that confer biological function.
The results of this pilot phase will guide future efforts to analyze the entire human genome.
In particular, our task was to assess whether a region of the human genome, found to be
conserved also in the mouse genome, could be a novel protein-coding gene (or at least a
novel exon) by checking whether:
1) the region mapped on an already annotated gene (RefSeq or Vega)
2) the region was transcribed, according to mRNA and EST annotations
3) the region showed a protein-coding potential, according to computational
gene prediction algorithms.
Although the ENCODE regions are now thoroughly analysed, we were able to
single out at least three possible novel protein coding genes, and a large number of novel
as yet unannotated exons.

Fig. 3. A web page of a bioinformatic database used for the project.

Fig. 4. A presumed new gene discovered by Alessandra Gangai, a student attending the project.

Future perspectives

We are planning to extend next year this type of initiative, by increasing the size of human
genome analyzed and to start a comparative analysis with other genomes. Because this is
going to become a huge task, we are planning to establish collaborations with other
European countries that might be interested in this activity.


[1] www.miur.it
[2] www.unimi.it
[3] www.istruzione.lombardia.it
[4] www.cusmibio.unimi.it

Badatel – Czech Project for the Cooperation
of the High-School Students and University
Martin KUBALA a,1
Faculty of Sciences, Palacký University in Olomouc, Czech Republic

Abstract. The project Badatel started on the Faculty of Sciences on the Palacký
University in Olomouc during the spring 2006. The project aims to give the
opportunity to high-school students interested in science to develop their skills in the
laboratories of our university under supervision of the top experts in the field. Most
students participate to the projects solved in our laboratories; nevertheless we try to
find also a proper support for students, who want to solve their own projects. One
year after the start of the project, we registered almost 60 actively participating
students; most of them were able to report about their research on the small
conference that we organized in the May 2007. Notably, most of the contributions
were fully comparable to the presentations of the bachelor- or master degree
university students.

Keywords. Out-of-school education, Science for high-school students, University-

and-High-school cooperation


Olomouc is a center of a region within the Czech Republic that has strong tradition of
agriculture. Recently, however, the region suffers from high unemployment, namely in its
highland parts. Obviously, the prosperity of our society in the future is closely connected
to the education level and high-tech skills of the inhabitants. The Palacký University in
Olomouc is naturally an important educational and cultural center of the region and has a
great potential to raise the region to become the center of prosperity.
During the last decade, we have observed continuous decrease of interest for
sciences among the high-school students. Moreover, we noted that this fact inevitably
influences also the quality of the education process on the university. In order to invert this
trend, Faculty of Sciences started to develop numerous activities toward high-school
students that could attract them to sciences and to improve there knowledge and skills,
before they enter university.
Fortunately, it seems that the high-school students are hungry for the out-of-
school activities and they do not exclude science. Recently, there are numerous events
organized to support the interest of young people for science, and in principle, they can be
divided into three categories:

Correponding author: Martin Kubala, Faculty of Sciences, Palacký University in
Olomouc, tř. Svobody 26, 77146 Olomouc, Czech Republic;
E-mail: mkubala@prfnw.upol.cz.

• various workshops, shows and exhibitions, where the students are left in the role
of passive spectators;
• contests, where students solve difficult problems (e.g. scientific Olympics),
which, however, only poorly develop the creativity of students;
• contests, where the students can presents results of their own creative work (e.g.
SOČ; Středoškolská Odborná Činnost – high-school professional work), which
have another drawback; though the system of the competition is well organized,
the organization start only from the moment when all the experimental work has
been done.
We started another project that could complement the abovementioned activities where we
would like to support the enthusiasm and creativity of the young generation and to attract
the students to science.

2. Basic Principles of the Project “Badatel”

The project Badatel (Badatel is an older Czech word for a scientist, nowadays rather
poetic) offers the possibility for high-school students to develop their skills under
supervision of the experts from our Faculty of Sciences and with the use of the
modern instruments in our laboratories [1]. The basic principles of the project can be
expressed as follows:
• “no money” – students don’t get any money for they work, in turn they
don’t have to pay anything;
• “no selection” – students don’t have to pass any test, anybody, who
would like to spend his/her leisure time with science, is welcome;
• “no formalities” – the modus operandi in each project is just a matter of
the agreement between the student and his supervisor.

3. How (and Why) Does Our Project Work ?

Our internet site (www.badatel.upol.cz) seems to be the most important element for the
project functioning. The student can visit the database of available projects and select the
most attractive one. In the case when student cannot find a concrete project but defines
his/her area of interest, the coordinator of Badatel tries to seek a proper coworker within
the university scientists who would be willing to cooperate with the student. Also, the
coordinator seeks the help for the students who already started to work on some project on
their own and seek for the professional support.
Another thing important for the successful run of the project is its propagation.
Despite the internet site is easily accessible and we also distributed leaflets to high schools
in our region, the most successful seems to be personal propagation of the project, either
directly to the students or mediated through their teachers.
Last, but not least, is a propagation of the project inside our university.
Fortunately, in the beginning, few enthusiastic people started the project, and now it seems
that the first results have convinced more people to participate.

6. First Observation and Results

The project started in the spring 2006, and nowadays we can already see the first fruits of
our effort. The participation of the high-school students exceeded our expectations, and
after roughly one year from the project start, we registered almost 60 actively participating
students. Not surprisingly, they are mostly interested in chemistry and biology (Fig.1).

Fig.1.: High-school students actively participating to the project Badatel.

In the May 2007, we organized the first conference for young scientists, where
the students got the opportunity to present results of their work. Though our project is on
its beginning, we could hear 12 oral presentations and see another 7 posters. The level of
all presentations was surprisingly high and fully comparable to the performance of our
university students. Moreover, two students claimed that they start to prepare their first
scientific publication.
During the conference, students were asked to fill a small questionnaire. They answered
that the project Badatel brings them mainly:
• novel experiences and knowledge,
• the possibility to work with modern instruments,
• the possibility to experience a laboratory work,
which is in line with our expectations. Moreover, connection with the Network of Youth
Excellence [2] enabled participation of our students to the international events.
In turn, we expect that there will be numerous high-school students with the
enhanced science knowledge and laboratory experience, who will enter the university.
This will not only raise the quality of the education process, but on the longer time scale,
also the quality of the scientific research. The growing interest for the project Badatel
promises that the project will further successfully develop.


I would like to thank all the collaborators from the Faculty of Sciences, who supported the project Badatel with
their effort. I would like to thank also Peter Csermely for initial inspiration and many useful hints. Finally, the
Ministry of Schools, Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic is acknowledged for the financial support within
the grant MSM 2E06029.


[1] www.badatel.upol.cz
[2] www.nyex.info

Your meeting with the Science at the Science
Festival School
Joanna LILPOP 1
Science Festival School, Poland

Abstract. The initiative that took institutes of Polish Academy of Science, Warsaw
Science Festival, the Warsaw University of Life Sciences and BioEducation
Foundation gives a unique chance for young people to work in professional
laboratory and experience what is a modern biology research like. People can meet
science in the laboratory of molecular biology at Science Festival School in Warsaw.

Keywords. Biology, science, workshop, laboratory.


Science Festival School (SFS) is a first non-governmental, non-profit, fulltime biology

popularization institution in Poland. Since 2002 it has been founded by The International
Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology in Warsaw (IIMCB), Institute of Biochemistry and
Biophysics of Polish Academy of Sciences (IBB PAS), Nencki Institute of Experimental
Biology PAS (NIEB), Warsaw University of Life Sciences, BioEducation Foundation and
the Science Festival. The SFS aims to reduce the gap between science and society in
Poland by conducting educational activities popularizing biology: open lectures,
workshops for students and all interested participants, as well as courses for biology
teachers. All activities are focused on improving biology education and the awareness of
biology in society. In 2006, a total number of 1360 young participants took part in
laboratory workshops together with 116 biology teachers and about 1000 lectures listeners.
In 2007 the number of participants will certainly rise because in the period of 8 month
there have been already over 1100 visitors.
During 5-hours workshop at the two professionally equipped laboratories at
IIMCB and the Warsaw University of Life Sciences participants can explore their own
DNA, clone genes, study molecular evolution or investigate differences between proteins.

1. Master of Science Popularization in Poland

SFS helps in solving the main problems in Polish education system which are: lack of
practical experiments in comparison with too much theoretical knowledge, low founds for
education and often low qualified teachers.
One of our main challenges is to help teachers in their work by giving them good
examples of school practice and support them in professional, up-to-date knowledge of
molecular biology and modern research fields. Teachers participating in SFS courses have

Corresponding author: Science Festival School, 4 Trojdena str., 02-109 Warsaw,
Poland, E-mail: sfn@iimcb.gov.pl.

an opportunity to learn how to use modern equipment and molecular biology techniques,
and how to make experiments that can be easily implemented in schools. During our
workshops for teachers, we try to build a connection between them and scientists so they
can feel like a part of the science community. We also equip them with lesson scenarios
and affordable experimental kits that can be used at school laboratories. After each
workshop, the participants receive certificates, which in turn, help them to develop their
own career. SFS helps all teachers, especially those from small towns and villages, whose
access to such forms of self-improvement is the most difficult.
The SFS laboratories of molecular biology are open not only for teachers and
talented students but also for average pupils from secondary schools a little interested in
biology. They can participate in one-day long experiments such as gene cloning, molecular
diagnosis, DNA fingerprinting, exploring gene evolution or transformation of bacteria. It
has been proven that these kinds of activities not only help to learn and understand
complicated thesis but also motivate for further learning and strengthen interest in
scientific research.
Appart from teaching laboratory practice, SFS presents theoretical issues of
modern biology. Open lectures on biology given by top Polish scientists are organized
every two weeks. The lectures are accessible to anyone with a basic knowledge of biology.
Some popular topics like genomics, evolution controversies, genetic diseases or
genetically modified organisms bring huge audiences. But also more specific themes
refering to gene expression regulation, immunology and the RNA functions are in the
center of interest of young students and biology teachers.
In the second “Master of Science Popularization” contest, organized by the Polish
Press Agency and Ministry of Science and Higher Education, Science Festival School
received the first prize in the category of “Journalist, Editorial Office or Non-Scientific
Institution of Science”. This award was given for the efforts of SFS to develop the interest
of young students in biology and furthermore in science, and in encouraging teachers to
incorporate a molecular biology curriculum into the biology courses at schools. In this
way, the SFS changes biology education in Polish schools.

2. Working with talented students

We offer 2-weeks training in different areas of biology covering the interest of many
young biology enthusiasts. SFS board chooses participants of the training among the
Polish Biology Olympiad laureates. The students send to the board an application letter
with declaration of their interest and the most desired subject of research. Then SFS search
for laboratories and research teams who whish to enclose young enthusiastic one and take
care of him/her for one or two weeks during vacation period. The strength of SFS is a good
contact with almost all biology laboratories in Warsaw – we closely cooperate with the
International Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, the Institute of Biochemistry and
Biophysics Polish Academy of Science, the Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology PAS
and the Warsaw University of Life Sciences.
The first laboratory training for four gifted secondary school pupils was
organized in 2005 during summer holidays. Four of laureates of Polish Biology Olympiad
joined for a week the research groups at: Laboratory of Neurodegeneration, IIMCB,
Laboratory of Molecular Biology, IBB, Biophysics Laboratory, IBB and Laboratory of
Calcium Binding Proteins, NIEB. The two of them started in National level Biology

Olympiad next year, became a finalists and took part in the 17th International Biology
Olympiad in Argentina 2006 winning the very good Silver and Bronze medals.
Next year during summer holidays two weeks laboratory training for seven gifted
secondary school pupils was organized. Two laureates of the Polish Biology Olympiad
joined the research groups at IIMCB: Laboratory of Neurodegeneration and Laboratory of
Molecular and Cellular Neurobiology, two joined the Laboratory of Ethology at NIEB and
one the Laboratory of Neurobiology of Development and Evolution, NIEB; one person
joined Department of Endocrinology at the Polish Academy of Sciences Medical Research
Center; and one the Department of Parasitology at the Warsaw University of Life
In every case SFS organized initial training for participating students in
laboratory practice covering the main laboratory techniques and laboratory chemistry
basics. SFS usually cover costs of travel and accommodation in Warsaw as well as costs of
accident insurance during the time of trainig of our young researchers.

3. The international cooperation at the “VOLVOX ” project

In 2005, Science Festival School started the implementation of the Volvox Specific
Support Action project funded by the European Commission within FP6, officially
entitled: Coordinated internet-linked networks for promoting innovation, exchanging
knowledge and encouraging good practice to enhance bioscience education in European
schools (www.eurovolvox.org). Volvox consists of nine partners from Denmark, Estonia,
Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, Sweden and the UK. The Volvox project
aims to:
• implement mechanisms to help teachers, scientists and others develop, exchange
and adapt resources for biology teaching;
• identify barriers that prevent the exchange of new and novel ideas between those
with a professional interest in bioscience education;
• investigate practical means of enhancing the uptake of new and novel ideas by
European biology teachers.
The Volvox network will provide teachers with authoritative briefings, proven laboratory
protocols, classroom activities addressing the social impact of bioscience, accounts of the
careers of young scientists and numerous other educational resources to help motivate
them and their students. Furthermore, Volvox will provide a dynamic forum for the
exchange of creative ideas and good educational practices across the European Union. The
Volvox project combines elements from the developments such as: refereed electronic
publication, open source, exchange networks, and flexible copyrights. Such resources free
available in the Internet should encourage more young people to develop positive attitude
towards studying science and to consider a scientific career.
In the article I’ve mentioned the main trends in SFS activities and highlighted the
main ideas that we try to implement into practice. SFS organizers hope that active
popularization will cause the rise of interest for Science in the society and increase the
number of students finding their careers at science research fields.

Think Globally, Act Locally – The Case for
New Approaches to Science Education
Daniel MIETCHEN a,b,,1, Henry ROMAN a,c, Rehana JAUHANGEER a,d, Steven
MANSOUR a,e,Gaëll MAINGUY a,f and Ravinder BHATIA a,g
World Academy of Young Scientists, Budapest, Hungary
Friedrich-Schiller University, Jena, Germany
Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Pretoria, RSA
University of Westminster, London,.UK
Acorn Active Media Foundation, Montreal, Canada
Institut Veolia Environnement, Paris, France
The Scholar Ship Research Institute, London, UK

Abstract. Many political problems that we face today have both a strong scientific
component and a global dimension. However, these elements are insufficiently
reflected in current science curricula or in the political decision-making process.
Efforts to address this gap must arise from high level governance and scientific
insitutions, but also from the grassroots community of scientists. We present a project
that introduces this holistic perspective into the education of future scientists and
decision-makers: capacity-building workshops conducted during the itinerary of a
ship-based and thus globally mobile campus, where young scientists engage with
practitioners to address challenges at global and local levels.

Keywords. science education, young scientists, sustainable science, sustainable

decision-making, North-South collaboration


The view we have of our planet and its relationship with the rest of the universe has
experienced profound changes over time, not least due to the results of the scientific
inquiry process. During the Copernican revolution, for example, our geocentric view of the
world changed into a heliocentric one. Today, many people are aware that even the Sun is
not particularly remarkable amongst the stars we know.
Humanity’s scope of action, however, is still tightly bound to our planet, and
perhaps increasingly so since the latest onset of globalisation. Many political problems that
we face today (as addressed for example by the initiatives to achieve the Millenium
Development Goals of the United Nations) have both a strong scientific component and a
global dimension, yet this is insufficiently reflected in the current science curricula.
Moreover, this is also true of the political decision-making process, whether on a global,
national or local level, in spite of the increasing number of policy papers that have been
generated to support this decision-making process.

Corresponding author: Daniel Mietchen, Friedrich-Schiller University Jena, Dept. of
Psychiatry, Philosophenweg 3, 07740 Jena, Germany;
E-mail: daniel.mietchen (at) uni-jena.de.

This gap must be filled from both ends – by providing researchers and fledgling scientists
with insights into political and economic decision-making and by endowing political
decision-makers with a basic understanding of the process of accumulation, improvement,
maintenance and application of scientific knowledge. By relying on traditional methods of
knowledge transmission and use, the learning processes in the education of scientists,
decision-makers, the media and the public is perhaps too slow in light of the urgent need
for action. One option to speed up this process is to identify and publicise examples of best
practices or, where there are few such best practices, to stimulate their generation.
In the following, we describe an endeavour which aims to bring together
political, economic and scientific perspectives in efforts to address current global
challenges, with the active participation of young scientists. The mechanism proposed for
this is through capacity-building workshops co-organised by The World Academy of
Young Scientists (WAYS) and The Scholar Ship Research Institute (TSSRI), both in the
industrial and the developing world, and within the framework of a truly global and
interdisciplinary science education program.

1 The World Academy of Young Scientists

WAYS is an international organisation supported by UNESCO and ICSU and dedicated to

the dissemination of scientific knowledge and to empower young scientists in their careers
worldwide. WAYS creates a global community with communication that is web-based,
but now increasingly in person through active regional and national chapters.

1.1 WAYS 2.0, an Active Online Community

The WAYS website (WAYS 2.0: http://www.ways.org) is open to all with an interest in
science. WAYS 2.0 currently represents more than 1500 registered members, half of
whom are located in Africa. The website receives more than 8000 visits per month. Upon
registration, members create an account to display their biography and research interests.
The website facilitates searches for other members according to different criteria such as
location, language, discipline, or key words.
WAYS 2.0 provides different communication tools to share and seek
information. For instance, members can post an announcement for a conference or a job, a
link to an exciting research paper, or share a personal opinion on their own blog. Members
can also search for others interested in a particular topic, search for help, seek for jobs or
recruit in-kind support for a project. WAYS 2.0 makes use of integrated collaborative tools
such as wiki or google.doc to allow different members at a distance to easily work together
on a document. Most of the features of WAYS 2.0 are collective aggregators, and the
conference announcement section for instance can manage announcements from all
countries in all disciplines at the same time.

1.2. Regional Organisation of WAYS

Beyond this online toolbox that give access to a growing and increasingly diverse range of
knowledge, WAYS is also structured in the physical world at the local level. After the
creation of Arab-WAYS in 2006 in Alexandria, Egypt, WAYS-Africa was launched in
March 2007 in Pretoria, South Africa, with the financial support of the South Africa
National Research Foundation, the International Council for Science Regional Office for
Africa, and the International Science Programme. Representatives of thirteen African
countries elected the executive committee and established the constitution of the
organisation. The WAYS African chapter, WAYS – AFRICA, is now a robust community
of more than 800 members across English-, French- and Portuguese-speaking African
countries. To empower young African scientists, WAYS-Africa makes use of WAYS 2.0
to develop its network and to exchange information.

2 The Scholar Ship Research Institute

The Scholar Ship is a semester-long academic programme aboard a dedicated passenger

ship that traverses the globe as an oceangoing campus. The programme is built in
partnership with leading universities from around the world. Students and staff together
form a transnational learning community designed to develop their academic knowledge,
intercultural competencies and leadership skills. The overall objective of the programme is
to prepare global leaders to tackle global challenges. Worldwide voyages aboard The
Scholar Ship are 16 weeks in duration, and occur two times each year beginning in
January and September.
The Scholar Ship Research Institute (TSSRI, http://www.thescholarship.com)
performs interdisciplinary research in the natural and social sciences by harnessing
international academic partnerships to address critical global challenges. TSSRI performs
research in Environmental Sustainability, International Relations, Human Development,
and Intercultural Communication. Within Environmental Sustainability, the Institute
conducts research in oceanography, atmospheric sciences and the coastal environment,
with climate change and biodiversity being the two overarching themes of research.
Other science-related topics include public health (focusing on the HIV/AIDS
pandemic and on malaria transmission) and the uses of information technologies to
promote literacy and human rights. Research is conducted both on-ship and on-shore,
through collaborations developed amongst the academic network of The Scholar Ship.
One laboratory on the ship is devoted to physical, chemical and biological oceanography
research. A second on-ship laboratory is devoted to DNA barcoding, including a
programme to understand the dynamics of malaria transmission via mosquito vectors in
equatorial regions. An overview of the on-ship science projects is given in Figure 1.
The Research Institute’s broader goal is to connect leading scholars,
policymakers and students across the world, in order to advance scholarship whilst
contributing to the development of timely, policy-relevant curricula. Academics and
students associated with the Research Institute’s workshops and collaborative research
endeavours seek to engage and educate policy makers by connecting innovative,
interdisciplinary scholarship to the central challenges of global leadership. By bringing
together leading scholars and practitioners from across the world and from different

academic disciplines, the outputs of the research are fed directly into the policy
process. This truly international and interdisciplinary perspective provides a key
mechanism for furthering our understanding of how to address global challenges.






Figure 1: Science Research Projects of The Scholar Ship for Voyages 1&2.

3 Capacity-building Workshops

Science offers practical solutions to many different problems that the world faces. Creating
adapted solutions requires the rare combination of up-to-date knowledge of what is
feasible along with a sound understanding of corresponding constraints and opportunities.
Knowledge is now evolving so quickly that a crucial component of the training of young
scientists is to learn how to access, filter and control information. Information technologies
are in fact a powerful tool to promote training and capacity building. Making use of the
unique combination of WAYS 2.0 tools to build knowledge and share information, WAYS
is partnering with TSSRI to set up a workshop series aiming at developing a scientifically
literate and empowered world community of young practitioners and scientists. These
workshops are being organised to promote capacity building of young scientists to conduct
research and to employ the results of that research for the public good, particularly in
developing and transitional economies. Ultimately, the workshops will build decision-
making capacities and collaboration between the young scientists of the developing world
as well as those from the developed nations. Over time, this can potentially have
significant impact on the way science is conducted.

To present and teach these various technical skills, it is important that most of the
workshop speakers be recruited locally. Each of the geographic regions has its own
specific issues and only speakers familiar with the area can understand the problems that
the attendees face on a daily basis, and present practical solutions within the nuances of the
region. The workshop content is science and technology-based, but also addresses career
issues. Web-based tools are used by the organizers to plan the workshops, thereby
improving skills in the IT area. The participation of female scientists on all levels is
strongly encouraged.
The first collaborative capacity-building workshop in Cape Town will serve as a
pilot experiment to design and implement a series of workshops at different locations
around the globe where The Scholar Ship is docking. From an African perspective,
telecommunications infrastructure and internet connectivity are poor in many countries on
the continent. Since electronic format has become the privileged vehicle of knowledge,
and given the expensive price of most print copy, most researchers cannot access all the
updated information they need. In addition to these structural and financial problems, a
limited IT proficiency hampers many African scientists to browse efficiently and navigate
today's databases and scientific repositories. The Cape Town workshop tracks therefore
aim to promote the development of core skills such as writing strong grant proposal and
articles, harnessing information technology, and intellectual property management. These
core skills are widely lacking in many developing countries and are now mandatory for
many young researchers worldwide, independent of their scientific discipline. The
workshop outline program is shown in Table 1.

Track 1 Track 2 Track 3

Remote Sensing for Science Basics: Intellectual Property
Policy support Training the and
Trainers Entrepreneurship

DAY am Bilko Research Design Introduction to IP.

pm Bilko Online Literature Online searching for
1 Searches prior art.
DAY am The Policymaking Writing a scientific Online filing of
process article/ policy paper patents
2 pm Policy Support with Introduction to
Remote Sensing Intellectual
DAY am Policy Support: Case Prepare article and Research
Study presentation commercialisation and
3 Business Incubation
pm Presentation skills Business Plans
DAY am Fundraising – resources and skills
pm Non-academic Career Development - Tools and Strategies
Table 1: Program for the Cape Town Capacity-building Workshop.

A second workshop is in preparation for Panama in September 2008. The

workshops are organised by local committees, with continuity and sustainability issues
being addressed by a Steering Committee, which is also responsible for fundraising.

Eventually, each workshop will be composed of tracks drawn from a selection of tried and
tested modules, thereby allowing a cost-effective reuse of pedagogical content from one
workshop to another whilst maintaining flexibility to meet local needs.

4 Outlook

Today’s scientific agendas are increasingly dictated by national, regional and corporate
needs and constraints. However, to tackle global issues effectively, there is an urgent need
to take a different – geocentric – world view. The proposed workshops are designed to
help prepare the next generation to collaborate internationally and in an interdisciplinary
manner to handle the complex political, social and technological issues that we already
face today. Although The Scholar Ship will itself visit port towns only, these joint
capacity-building workshops could serve as role models for similar events in other areas,
be they rural settlements or urban centres. It is our hope that this stateless and itinerant
initiative will help the emergence of a more informed Geocentric 2.0 vision for the future
of our planet.

5 Acknowledgements

We are most grateful to Adelina Mansah and the members of the WAYS-Africa executive
committee for their active participation and constant support and to Eric Churchill and
Armando Durant for enthusiastically preparing the Panama Workshop. The Scholar Ship
Research Institute gratefully thanks the Ship's owner, captain and crew who have all
assisted with the establishment of the onboard research facilities.

XLAB – an Offensive in Science Education
Eva-Maria NEHER1
XLAB, Germany

Abstract. XLAB is an educational institution, which wants to bridge the gap between
high school and university. XLAB organizes experimental courses in Biology,
Chemistry, applied Computer Sciences, and Physics for classes and individual
students from Europe and from all over the world. The students do intensive
experimental work with state-of-the-art-equipment. Theoretical teaching by
experienced scientists runs parallel with the experiments.


In nearly all industrialized countries the number of students enrolling in natural science
studies at universities has been decreasing dramatically for more than 15 years. On the
other hand science and technology provide the key to the problems and challenges that our
societies are facing today.
Much effort has to be invested to encourage young people to pursue scientific
careers. Young people have to get enthusiastic about the great research adventure of today.
Students should get to know how to do research: what it means to work in a laboratory,
what it means to solve a theoretical problem, and for what purpose a computer is really
needed, instead for fun. That means students should get to know the reality!
The strategies and activities of scientists and research institutions are numerous
and manifold: Institutes organize science festivals and open their laboratories for the public
on weekends. Scientists give public lectures, visit high schools to show some spectacular
experiments. The latest events are the ”Long Nights of Science” were they invite the
public to visit the research facilities at nighttime. All these activities all very ambitious, but
do they really reach our future scientists, the young people being still in High School
lacking the need of better science education.
XLAB offers hands-on experiments in well equipped laboratories. Scientists
design the experiments and supervise the students. They are experts in the subjects they
teach and the experiments reflect more or less the latest results in research. Hands-on
experiments play the most important role in science teaching. Theory comes along with
the experiments and not separately or exclusively, as this is the reality in most school
The economical situation of high schools does not allow installing sophisticated
experiments: the equipment is much too expensive and teachers are normally not trained in
supervising experiments on a scientific level.
Therefore, the establishment of central laboratories makes good economic sense:
Central laboratories can serve regional schools and may also be accessible nationwide and
- as is the case for XLAB – worldwide.

Corresponding author: Eva-Maria Neher, XLAB-Göttinger Experimentallabor,
Justus-von-Liebig Weg 8, 37077 Goettingen, Germany

Aims of XLAB

Concurrent with the Bologna Process XLAB is following the general aims of the EU in
promoting the attractiveness of the European Higher Education Area and promoting the
mobility of the students and encouraging them to take up university studies abroad. In
particular XLAB tries to raise student’s interest in science subjects in order to increase the
number of future scientists.

Teaching at the XLAB

The XLAB tries to provide an atmosphere of real research laboratories with authentic tools
and machines and most important: lecturers who are experienced scientists.
XLAB offers a variety of practical experiments in Biology, Chemistry, applied
Computer Sciences, Mathematics, and Physics. The experiments are designed and
supervised by scientists. Scientists and science schoolteachers work together in a very tight
collaboration. The performance of the experimental courses is supported by qualified
technical assistance. This guarantees a specialized scientific knowledge, experienced
didactical teaching, and a successful performance regarding the technical prerequisites.
Students work in the laboratories for the entire day and mostly for several days.
They concentrate on one subject; that means there is no interruption by other lessons as it
is the case at school. This provides an intensive learning at a level, which can be compared
with university teaching.
Most of the students are very satisfied with their progress in learning by doing
hands-on experiments. Others learn, that taking up university studies in science would be
not the right decision for them. This is very important and prevents them from frustrating
experiences during later university studies. Another group of students get to know about
non-scientific-careers in the field of science, and technology, which is also very important,
since well-educated and highly motivated technical assistants are of great demand in
scientific research.

Target groups

The target groups are:

1. School classes with their teachers coming from Germany and neighboring
countries. Classes stay for one to five days after having made special
2. High school and 1st year university students coming individually, attending
weekly courses during school holidays in winter, spring and autumn.
3. International students participating in the XLAB Science Camp for three weeks
during the summer holidays. The number of students representing one nationality
is limited to 4 to 5 in order to avoid the formation of subgroups.

Worldwide acceptance of XLAB’s offer

Number of Students

XLAB started in August 2000 and today we count more than 56000 student x days. Since
operating in an own building the number of student x day reaches about 11000 per school
year, and nearly 20% are coming from other countries. Laboratory space is still not
limiting, the bottleneck is due to the number of apartments in the University Guesthouse.


In November 2004 XLAB moved into a new building, especially designed for teaching
high school students in the various science subjects. The four story – nicely colored -
building has laboratories and seminar rooms to teach more than 100 students
simultaneously. Each floor is dedicated to one of the four subjects but nevertheless the
interdisciplinary character of modern research can be experienced. For example in
Neurobiology, Biochemistry and of course in applied Computer Sciences.
Moving to the new building does not mean, that XLAB became independent
from the research laboratories. Whenever special measurements like NMR-Spectroscopy,
electron microscopy and many others are necessary, the students work within the different
research laboratories of the University and the Max-Planck-Institutes in Göttingen.

International Science Camps

In summer XLAB organized International Science Camps. Since 2003 more than 200
students form nearly 30 different countries participated. The common language of the
camp is English in teaching as well as in social life.
Each science camps last for 3 and a half weeks. The scientific program takes
three weeks. Each student chooses three weekly courses out of a program of 9 to 12
different experimental courses in the fields of natural sciences. Students present the results
of the each course to each other on Saturday morning.

In the third week an excursion to Berlin highlights the social program.

Science is international, and the scientific community resembles a worldwide
family. There are no prejudices with respect to nationality and political or religious
affiliations. Scientists from all over the globe, having a common interest in special
research topics, meet each other at international congresses and workshops at various
places on all continents.
The XLAB international Science Camp conveys this experience to our future
scientists. Young people, 17-21 years of age, will regularly meet in summer in Goettingen,
discover their common interest in sciences, work and live together, make international
friendship across the borders of cultural heritage, get to know the country of their host, and

get a feeling of what it means to become a member of the various international scientific

Adults, The Neglected Science-Deficient
Young@Science, The Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel

Abstract. The Network for Youth Excellence, its members and other organizations
are all deeply engaged in educating the young generation. Specifically we all are
concerned with promoting the genuine engagement of youth with science,
encouraging them to take an interest in as well as actually study science. The
underlying thought is that educating the youth is more effective than educating older
adults as all their career life is still ahead. Youth are often also open to new ideas and
fresh scientific concepts. Moreover, they are not yet committed to their career, family
and social duties; hence they are willing to spend more time in studying. It is argued
here that informal adult science education should not be overlooked. As voting
citizens in a democratic society, adults have tremendous power in shaping the future
of our society, nation and our one and only home planet as a whole. Moreover, adults
have significant direct and indirect influence on youth attitudes. Hence, neglecting
adults in general, and the science-deficient sector in particular, may have severe
consequences. Three examples of programs for adults will be discussed. They are
selected not only because of the adult participation, but primarily due to the
advantages of mixed adult-youth attendance.

Why Adults?

Youth science programs are the natural preference of science educators. Youth are the
adults of our future community, youth are often both eager to and capable of learning new
ideas and embarking on intellectual journeys. On the other hand adults are already
occupied by their job, career, family and community duties, and have little time and
patience for new science adventures.
Nevertheless, as far as science literacy is considered, we cannot afford to neglect
our adult citizens for various reasons. First, as members of a democratic society they have
to decide and vote on various issues from genetically modified food to global warming
policies; from stem cell research to environmental pollution, which all require certain basic
comprehension of scientific ideas and terminology. Probably new science-associated
issues will appear in the future and moral and intelligent decisions will have to rely on
even more scientific literacy.
Citizens have to prioritize scientific research and science education, and allocate
accordingly the required resources. Once again, lack of understanding of science and the
relevance of both scientific research and science education may have a significant and
dangerous impact on our future.
On top of their voting power some citizens have an excessively prominent
influence due to their official or unofficial power as high ranking officers, politicians,
leaders or influential media people.

Corresponding author: Zvi Paltiel, Young@Science, The Weizmann Institute of
Science, Rehovot, Israel, E-mail: zvi.paltiel@weizmann.ac.il

It is thus apparent that we cannot afford risking our future by neglecting the adult
sector. There is however another indirect reason for engaging adults in informal science
programs. Naturally adults have tremendous influence on youth. Be it a family member,
friend or influential idol, they all shape the attitude of young followers.
Our computer science after-school clubs may serve as an illustrative example.
For years they were highly popular among high- and middle-school students. A few years
ago, right after the major downfall of the high-tech and software industry, the attendance
shrunk by over 50%, though no such change was seen in other fields. As it is unlikely that
the genuine excitement of computer science changed so abruptly, we believe the apparent
and hidden messages of influential adult people as a result of the downfall accounts for this
It is argued that adult, and specifically parent and family member, interest in
science has major influence on youth. It is therefore essential that a student be able to share
with his parents and other family members her or his excitement in revealing new
scientific ideas. Likewise, parents should be encouraged to share there own science
associated excitement with their children. In short, there is hardly any better way to
encourage students than by exciting their parents.

Adult Science Deficiency

In general, adults are science-deficient, especially when they are not engaged with science
in their career. At least three factors can be accounted for this. Many adults were virtually
never exposed to sciences at their schools. Difficult political or socio-economical
conditions, old fashion educational system or simply inadequate teachers are all to be
Yet another reason for adult science deficiency is our limited memory capability.
After all, how much of our school learning do we remember when our middle- or high-
school children study just the same material? Often our recollections are too poor to allow
intelligent parent-child discussion.
Finally, even in case we adults still remember our school science curriculum, it is
often irrelevant old fashioned material. It might have been replaced by new curriculum in
the same field due to the rapid significant progress of the associated scientific field.
Alternatively, the ever changing interest of science and the emphasis of the science
curriculum are constantly on the move. Thus even a parent who recalls all his school
material may often be unable to discuss new scientific concept with her or his child. To
name just few: Gene therapy, numerical analysis, nano-technology, are some of the fields
which no one could study at school just thirty years ago.
It is therefore argued that due to the lack of science studies at school, the
forgotten material and the ever changing emphasis of the sciences, most adults are to some
extent science deficient. Consequently, it is upon us, science educators, to bring science to
the adult sector as well, on top of our mission among youth.

Adult, Youth, Mixed Activities

One may conceive of all sorts of social and educational activities which may engage adults
with science, exposing science to the people and people to scientific context. Here, only
three examples are discussed based on our own experience. These specific examples were

selected due to the mixed attendance of youth and adults in all three.
We believe such mixed attendance is advantageous as youth and adults may
mutually share their interests and excitement. Moreover, adult attendance may accredit the
activity with certain esteem which is missing in youth only program.
“Astronomy for All” is a popular monthly program which may take place either
on-campus or occasionally at low-light pollution sites off-campus. Fig. 1 was taken on an
excursion to a two-hour ride off-campus site for meteor shower gazing under the clear
desert sky. Dozens of adults and school students attended this activity. They certainly had
a lot to discuss and share in the aftermath of this event.

Fig. 1: An Astronomy Club excursion to a low light pollution site is attended by both
adults and youth.

Fig. 2 (a)

Fig. 2 (b)

Fig. 2: Venus transit event with over 1,000 adults and youth in attendance. Mixed audience
outside (a) and inside (b) the over-crowded on-campus lecture hall

Yet another mixed activity is the popular science lectures presented by top
scientists for over 40 years. In Fig 3.the lecturer, is sitting on the podium after an hour long
lecture followed by a 30 minute question and answer session. Youth and adults who still
have urgent questions come forward to discuss them with the mathematician lecturer.

Fig. 3: The remaining mixed adult-youth audience is discussing some of the burning
questions with the mathematician lecturer (sitting), following a popular science lecture and
a long Q&A session.

Our final example is the popular Science Café events in which scientists discuss
their research with the Café attendees. Admittedly these events draw primarily adults, but
some school students do attend them, depending on the specific topic and the scientist.


It is argued that adults should not be overlooked when science enrichment is considered,
both due to their central role in our society as voters and influential people, and because of
their deficiency in science. This deficiency may be the result of poor science teaching at
their school age, poor recollection, or due to the advancement of science in course of time.
It is further argued that science enrichment of adults may eventually also encourage the
interests of youth in science. Finally, it is argued that mixed activities of both adults and
youth may best serve the science interest and literacy cause.

Science camp of Archaeology
Tamás RÉVÉSZ and Csaba BÖDE1
Hungarian Student Research Foundation, Budapest, Hungary

Abstract. This paper introduces an international summer science camp – organized

by the Hungarian Research Student Association for high school students – held in
Szeged, Hungary in 2007. Despite its special focus – Archaeology and Biochemistry
– this camp combined several disciplines, ranging from social to natural sciences.

Keywords. Science camp, NYEX, archaeology, biochemistry, high school students,

interdisciplinary, student-organized, international program


In summer 2006 members of the Hungarian Research Student Association decided to

organise an interdisciplinary science camp to foster the collaboration between different
international and national talent-supporting organisations. After careful consideration
archaeology was chosen as the focus field of the camp. The camp was organised by high
school students for high school students with the help of the Network of Youth Excellence,

1. Why Archaeology? Why Szeged?

Hungary is famous about its archaeological heritage, due to its special geographical
location between East and West. Various archaeological findings remained here with
dating ranging from the stone age to the Second World War and many archaeological sites
of the Carpathian-basin gained international reputation.
There are numerous examples of successful natural science camps, but we wished to
organise a program equally attractive for students with social and natural scientific interest.
Archaeology is an ideal candidate, since it synthesises the application of many natural
scientific techniques (for example physics and biology) with its social scientific approach.
Since Archaelogy is not a part of the secondary school education this camp gave an insight
for students into an completely new part of scientific discipline.
Situated on the banks of the river Tisza, Szeged’s historical past dates back to 24000
A.D., from when the river lured people to this region. Szeged was a very important
strategic point for the Romans as well, lying between the two provinces, Pannonia and
Transylvania. The city retained its importance in later times, due to its good geographic
location and by being a riverside trading post. In 1921 the University of Kolozsvár moved
to the city, from then Szeged became one of the cultural centres of Hungary.

Corresponding Author: Csaba Böde, Director, Hungarian Student Research
Foundation, Budapest, P.O.B 108. H-1363, Hungary, E-mail: bode.csaba@kutdiak.hu

2. The Program

While planning the program for the one-week long camp we tried to balance scientific and
social activities (Table 1.). On average three scientific lectures or activities took place in
during a day from morning till late afternoon. These were held by leading lecturers from
Hungarian universities. Topics covered the widest possible range from aerial archaeology
and pollen analysis to radiocarbon dating and molecular biological analysis of findings.
Beside the lectures many practical sessions were organised, where the
participants could touch real archaeological objects or for example try out the
reproductions of tools from the Bronze Age. To involve students even deeper, they also
had the opportunity to prepare and hold scientific presentations in various topics.
Examples of student presentations include “How to extract DNA from human remains” or
“Age determination by amino acid racemization method”.

31. July 01. Aug 02. Aug 03. Aug

Roman Excursion to
empire Ópusztaszer

Intercultural Open-Air Free

City trip
night Festivals program

04. Aug 05. Aug 06. Aug 07. Aug

assessment Archeology Archeology

gical Archeology
Visiting Departure
Anna Spa
Date Date
assessment assessment
methods methods

Traditional Traditional Free

dances dances program

Table 1. Daily program of Science camp of Archaeology.

Informal conversations with the lecturers were also important part of the Camp.
After the lectures during lunch and dinner time students had the opportunity to discuss
further the lecture topics at the dining table.

In such an international camp social programs are important, too – since most of
the participants do not know each other. Therefore we organised a group forming event in
the first evening. On the other evenings we organised city visit and dance courses to make
camp-friendships even deeper in the camp. The participants had the opportunity to
introduce their own countries beside getting acquainted with Hungarian dances and folk
traditions. Students also visited Ópusztaszer, the National Historical Memorial Park near

3. Conclusion

The camp was completely organized by high school students for high school students.
According to the participant’s opinion the camp have showed them that such a social
science, like archaeology can also have various natural-scientific aspects. They have
realised that many research topics can be studied from another aspects with the means of
another scientific discipline. Since the organizers were also students, it made the
communication between the participants and the organizers more simple, still did not
cause problems at organizing the scientific programs.
In the future we would like to improve the practical part of the scientific
programme: with more laboratory exercises, for example introducing DNA sequencing
into the programme. If the conditions allow, a two-day work in an excavation spot would
also be inserted into the program. This would shift the program from the formal
Academic-style lectures towards the non-formal learning methods.

4. Acknowledgements

Such an event cannot be organised without help. We thank the Network of Youth
Excellence (NYEX, www.nyex.info) and the Federation of European Biochemical and
Molecular Biological Societies (FEBS, www.febs.org) for their financial help. We thank
Csanád Bálint the director of the Archaeological Institute of the Hungarian Academy of
Sciences for his scientific support. We would like to thank all the organisers of the camp:
János Daru, the former president of the Hungarian Research Student Association, who also
developed the idea of organising such an archaeological camp, and Erna Burai and Lilla
Barabás for their help in organising the Camp. Last, but not least we would like to thank
Dávid Fazekas, the co-ordinator of the camp for his enormous devotion.

STaN and Gifted Children Education:
Experience, Policy, Plans, Cooperation
Eva VONDRÁKOVÁ a,1, Martina PALKOVÁ a,,b,c
Společnost pro talent a nadání – STaN (Association for Talent and Giftedness), Prague,
Czech Republic
First Private Elementary School for Gifted Children, Prague, Czech Republic
Masaryk University, Faculty of Social Studies, Brno, Czech Republic

Abstract. Many able young children are curious, active and internally motivated to
learn. Very often their curiousness disappear shortly after they start the compulsory
school attendance. STaN (Association for Talent and Giftedness) aims to change
such situation. This paper presents examples how STaN members and its associates
support children´s curiosity, motivation and talent development. Paper informs on
our activities, cooperation, plans and experience with changing educational policy in
the CR.

Keywords. NGO activities in GC education, private schools, very young students,

interest in science and technology.


There is lack of experts, namely in science and technology, around the world. Many clever
and initially curious children lose their motivation to think and learn in the course of
compulsory school attendance. In addition those who are motivated for science and
technology in the preschool age can hardly find someone (teacher, mentor) able to support
and develop their interest and giftedness at such young age. State educational policy is
rigid and needs a lot of time to realize changes. Children cannot stop their development
and wait until conditions will be better. So many of them lose their motivation and some
later do not want to study at all, despite their high intellectual abilities and previous
Parents of such children look for a solution. Those active and able enough try to
organize their children´s education using “self – help”. Let us to introduce you the first
private elementary school for gifted children “Cesta k úspěchu” (Path towards success) in
Prague. This school cooperates with STaN – Association for Talent and Giftedness
(NGO). There are also some “mainstream schools” looking for the way how to educate
their gifted students well and cooperating with STaN.
Let us to mention briefly 18 years long history of STaN, its main activities and to
inform you about several examples of our cooperation in GC education in the years 2006-

Correponding Author: Eva Vondráková, Bellušova 1827/53 155 00 Praha 515, Czech
Republic; E-mail: eva.vondrakova@email.cz; vondrakova@gmail.com.

1. STaN – Association for Talent and Giftedness

1.1. History and activities

Association for Talent and Giftedness (Společnost pro talent a nadání – STaN)
started its work in spring 1989, as the Czechoslovak branch of ECHA, It was founded
(as well as Mensa Czechoslovakia) by Dr. Hana Drábková, psychologist, specialized
on the heritability of giftedness. Thanks to it she was invited to attend the 1st ECHA
conference (Zurich 1988).
STaN-ECHA has been very active from the very beginning of its existence.
Since the autumn 1989 seminars for psychologists and teachers have been held
regularly three to four times a year, mostly in Prague. Until now (Autumn 2007) there
were 56.STaN seminars realized. STaN had its paper and poster at the: 17th WCGTC
conference Warwick, August 2007, England.

Figure 1. Cityhall of Prague 13 where ECHA seminars are realised

There were also meetings of Club for Clever and Curious Children
organized once a week at the 1989/90 and 1990/91 school years. Students 11 – 14 years
old could meet interesting experts from various fields of human endeavour.
Club for Parents has been operating since the 1993. Parents of gifted
children look for advice and help with their children’s education. Among main

problems GC had at schools there were boredom, loneliness and sometimes bullying.
Also underachievement, learning disabilities and behavioural problems, often because
of nonconformity of the GC (mostly boys). More than 100 such meetings took place
until now.

Figure 2. The club of parents

STaN-ECHA offers consultations to parents, teachers and students (mostly

future psychologists and teachers). In addition to mentioned problems many parents of
preschool children and toddlers want to know if their child is really gifted and how to
care for him/her.

2. The first private elementary school for gifted children in Prague

2. 1. School for the Children

Parents mostly prefer preventing problems to their solving later. They are looking for the
school corresponding to their ideas. If they do not find such school, some of them try to
establish private school or choose home schooling for their children. Both is allowed but
not supported by the Czech Ministry of Education.
STaN-ECHA collaborates with Dr. Ing. Stanislav Svoboda, father of a “twice
exceptional” child and founder of civil association „Škola dětem“ (School for the children)
and the first private primary school for talented children. His school Cesta k úspěchu v
Praze (Path towards success in Prague) was registrated in 17. 10. 2006 after long and hard
effort of the association.
Despite the fact that the project was highly elaborated and all due formalities
were all right, Ministry of Education didn’t accredit it for several years. It changed in the
October 2006, with the new ministress. Thanks to it they are opening their classes for

gifted children at last in school year 2007/2008. Sadly, basic school “Cesta k úspěchu in
Prague” is still a rare opportunity for developing the potential of gifted children in CR.

3. Young technician – case report

Hundreds cases report on small gifted children´s show strong inner motivation of many
very young children in science and technology. Parents at STaN-ECHA meetings
report their children´s thirst for information and effort to gain insight into problems.
Matyas Kosik (12) is extremely gifted boy. At his 4 years he used to wake up
his mother early mornings and demanded reading from the Journal of radioingeneering.
When he was in the 2nd class of primary school he was able to repair lamp lets. At his
ten he became successful in repairing radios. Before his 12th birthday he constructed a
functional radio set. In the picture you can see Matyas with his favourite part of his
collection of electron tube radios – the Telegrafia Triumf Bali. With the help of one of
his friends, he brought the antique piece back to function

Figure 3. Matyas (12) and his favourit electron tube radio.

The first school for the GC in Czech Republic was private Mensa gymnasium
(grammar school). This project was developed in 1991 year by Katerina Havlicková
and Eva Vondráková. The school exists since the September 1993. Matyas became one
of its students last year.

4. Small Owls – young scientists in Kindergarten

STaN-ECHA seats in the Kindergarten “Rozmarynek”. There was established “Small

Owls” class for gifted children in cooperation with us.

Figure 5. Small Owls

Thanks to international conferences, meetings and informal communication

with our colleagues from all over the world we are informed on current news and
trends in the gifted children education. Our aim is to apply what is known in this topic
and improve the chance of GC to realize their potential fully.


[1] www.talent-nadani.cz


Contributions to Gifted Science Education

What kind of science communication do we
really need? The case of science café.
Michael S. ARVANITIS 1
Euroscience Greek Regional Section, PO Box 3125, 10210, Athens, Greece

Abstract. This paper describes in brief, the action plan that the Greek regional
section of Euroscience has followed, in order to promote science in Greece.
Focusing mainly on young children, the science cafe activity achieved to attract the
interest of children, university students and to become one of the most popular
scientific actions in Greece.

Keywords. Science and Society, Science Communication, Science cafe.

1. Introduction

How far can we go with science communication activities? How many, if any, gifted
children can we attract to science and how creative and innovative can we be in
developping new activities? In this paper, we present our experience from the science cafe
project that is running in Greece since 2004. We try to evaluate this 4 year period and
examine whether or not has fulfilled our expectattions.

2. The Science cafe project

Started in 2004 as a cooperation between major institutes in Greece, the science cafe
project soon gained publicity and publicity sponsors. Although it began as a joint event it
became obvious at an early stage that most of the parnters preferred a sole organization
than joint events. This year only in Athens three different cafes are running, hosting
different speakers, hosted at different places, each having its own audience. For
Euroscience Greece, the National Contact Point for the thematic “Science in Society” of
the Seventh Framework Programme, the concept of science cafe remains an important,
valuable and attractive tool in order to bring science in to society.
What is a science cafe? It is a place where anyone can come to explore the latest
ideas in science and technology. Meetings take place in cafes, bars and even theatres, but
always outside a traditional academic context.
For the first time in Greece we moved science cafe to a real cafe and we also
experimented with junior science cafes during school holidays (during Christmas and
Easter mainly).
Although we try to keep up with the actual matters that have an affect on the
society our main concern is to provoke people's interest (and especially children) with
controversial matters and subjects, moving a science cafe more to a debate style of

Correponding author: Michael S. Arvanitis, Euroscience Greek Regional Section,
PO Box 3125, 10210, Athens, Greece; E-mail: info@euroscience.gr.

interaction between scientists and the public. To this, we introduced as well a series of
scientific and societal debates. These debates are slightly different than the traditional
science cafes, as there is no more one speaker but at least three from totally different
backgrounds. Keeping debates open for public discussion we try to keep the same style as
this of science cafe trying at the same time to make a more interesting discussion with the

Pic 1. A science cafe

The thematic of our science cafes depends mainly on the actual matters that the
greek society wants to listen to (e.g. environment, food safety, molecular biology etc) but
also to be in accordance with global matters or events (i.e. Year of Earth 2008, this year's
anniversary of Spoetnik launch etc)
Our experience from video conference cafes, which we organized jointly with the
British Council in Athens, shows that people, especially young people, are more
embarassed and less loose when they know that they are being recorded by a camera.
These cafes showed also a smaller participation than the others and we assume that the
reason for behind that is that we used the english language than greek. Although we can
not say that the video conference cafes have been a failure we have to rethink of how
events like these can attract more people at a local level.

Future Steps:

Our plans for the future of the science cafe in Greece is to find new, attractive speakers. To
this, we have the valuable support of the British Council which trained a small team of
young science communicators, the winners of the “Famelab” competition. We need to
keep up with a short-cycle renewal if we want to keep and expand our audience.
Also its necessary to develop training networks for both speakers and organizers
in collaboration with other science communication organizers in Europe. Its also needed to
strengthen the interaction between science cafe and its territorial context and move as well
science cafes outside of the big metropolitan cities. A global network of science cafes and
a stable and wealthy way of financing it should be a major priority.


[1] M. Arvanitis, Field work experience as a research initiation for students: the case of applied geophysics, In
P. Csermely, T. Korcsmaros, L. Lederman (ed.), Science Education: Best practices of research training for
students under 21, IOS Press, Amsterdam, 2005, pp.106-109
[2] S. Tisseron, Comment l’esprit vient aux objets, Aubier, Paris, 1999.

The Geographic distribution of the young
talents in Albania
Sokol AXHEMI 1
University of Tirana, Albania


One of the main issues, that is a part of the education system in different countries of the
world is the approach and policy taken to support and sustain in different ways, the talents
and gifts shown by different pupils, young people as they are called in general the young
talents in a various of fields.
Such a thing influences in different directions in the comprehensiviness of the education
system of a particular country. Firstly it plays an important role in the creation of the
premises for the creation of a secure developing base for the different fields where we can
find or such talents show up. Secondly through them, it becomes possible their
involvement in particular fields and their orientation toward those issues and objectives for
what a particular field requires or needs. Thirdly it impacts in the creation, perfection and
identification of an elite class that is exposed in different directions, fields and activities of
the country.
However different scholars of social, didactic and methodic sciences representatives of
other countries educational systems represent even different but important directions,
mainly of more specific and detailed aspects. Such a thing is closely linked with the role,
development or progress that such policies play toward the young talents.
There are known experiences and examples of different kinds in this particular
Thus the government of different countries, societies and different educational systems of
the social character or private through the special policies and programmes make the
necessary attempts with the goal of drafting different plans and active ways to support
Let’s mention that such policies are shown differently in different countries influenced
from different factors and elements.
Below we are trying to show in a general way some thoughts in relation with the
situation and the policies being followed for the young talents, their level, the evolution
that they have had in different historical periods of the country development, which are
closely related with the particular measures and effects. At the same time we have made
our attempt to show them even from their geographic distribution, always seeing them
under the impact of the different conditions and factors that have influenced in such a

Corresponding author: Sokol Axhemi, Department of Geography, University of
Tirana, Tirana, Albania

Young talents in Albania until early 1990

The education system in Albania has passed through a long road of development and
consolidation by making it possible that in organized or spontaneous ways there could be
created the possibilities and opportunities that in different fields there could emerge young
The road through which passed the identification and developments of these
young talents knows a long slope full of deviations, ups and downs and features that
belong to different stages and period of development of the country.
Different scholars of the educations and of social sciences have tried to work on
this field by attempting at the same time to present even the different stages of the historic
development of the education in Albania, by stopping even in the different policies taken
for the young talents.
We are emphasizing that in a special way changes and special characteristics a
system likes this has shown in two phases. The first phase can be considered the one until
the early 1990, which is the so called period of the communist system domination and the
second phase the one after 1990s identified as the phase for the development of this
educational system during the period of democratic transition.
Each one of them is distinguished from the followed policies and from different
measures of the practical character, that have been applied in direction of identifying and
developing further the young talents in Albania.
The essential characteristic of the first phase until the early 1990 was a special
volountureest policy followed from the government policy in the direction of creating the
opportunities that the young talents could show thier abilities in different fields. In order to
achieve such a goal it became possible that in all the administrative urban regions of the
country, almost in all cities and towns there could be built different culture houses for the
children (called pioneer houses), where in an organized manner there were being realized
different lessons and different extra-curriculars and extra-scholar activities that were
directed toward a different fields.
The main fields over which it was made possible the tendency toward emerging
and identifying the young talents were mainly those of the scientific direciton as in other
directions where there could be distinguished those of the artistic and sportive character.
Such an activity was led and managed from the special government organisms
where to their disposal there were being involved different teachers, coaches in
dependence of the different directions and activities that were being realized. Through this
special “pioneer houses” as they were called in that period it was made possible that to
these talents could be given a supplementary assistance in continuation for the different
scholastic programmes that was realized at the different schools of the country.
There should be appreciated the fact that a considerable number of talents and gifted
people in different fields have been identified through such institutions where they have
been further developing their gifts. We should praise the fact that real examples we have
encountered for the coming years in particular way, in fields such as those of artistic
character ( where we can mention different singers, instrument players, dancers, painters
and sculptores), etc where in the coming years made it possible with their priority presence
by giving a lot to the different national activities to such fields.
At the same time another direction that should be mentioned are the young talents
which have emerged especially in the sport fields( where football, voleyball players and

athletes, etc) with the passing of the years have given a lot not only to the sport life in their
own cities but have also contributed to the Albanian national sport. Where some of them
were identified as winners of different medals and rewards in the several activities that
were being organized at that time.
The young talents that emerged during these activities organized by these
institutions took different appreciation and awards even in international activities where
our country was being represented.
So many awards, titles and medals were won in respective fields that were related
with the song, balet and dance and the different sports, etc. Lets emphasize that the
concentration in different international acitivities in general was limited and oriented
mainly toward artistic and sport fields by marginalizing different fields of science as it is
the case of different olimpiads of the Balkanic, European or world size in different
scientific subjects, where our country started to participate massively after the 1990s.
But the identification and the work for the development for the young talents
could not be called or finalized only in these different cultural houses for the children. It
was important that the school was going to play a prioritarian role. Thus another
identification for the further development of the young talents it was also the one inside the
school environment throughout the country.
A policy like this was being realized through the organization of different
scientific circles out of the school that were created in the whole pre-university educational
system in accordance with the different sciences subject being taught in these schools. So
we can mention the scientific circles of history, geography, chemistry, mathematics,
physics etc.
In these scientific circles the respective teachers of these scientific disciplines
were choosing theirs best students and especially those that were showing gifts or clear
signals for the opportunity to move ahead or deepen themselves in a particular scientific
In these circles there were taking place and studied extra materials, which beyond
the school curriculum that was being presented in the official teaching sessions for the
respective hours in the framework of the different scientific disciplines. We emphasise that
these themes mainly of the special character, were becoming an orientation for the desires
and the passion that the most distinguished students were showing in these particular
scientific disciplines.
These ways were influencing in the creation of the premises and the opportunities
that several elements could be selected and identified, that were being defined as talents,
that could serve to be oriented in the future toward the work and elaboration of special
disciplines or toward different fields of the knowledge.
However it should be mentioned that beside the positive sides of the
implementation of such policies toward the identification and development of young
talents, again a system like this was not able to bring till the end the mission for the one it
was created.
By being at the core a socialist and statist policy , and in the building of such
volunteerism policies, the idea of their massive involvement, by eleminating the selective
character and the real identification of the talent in a particular field.
In some cases, initiated from the political conjucture even though there were
being distinguished or identified in different fields as the most capable and promising ones,
some of these talents because of not having the same political thoughts with the
powerholders were obliged not to develope their talents and gifts in the particular fields.

The history of development of our country knows many cases especially of the
different science fields, as well as in sports and art where some of the distinguished talents
were not allowed to continue their activitity in the respective fields.
There lacked the absence of the reward, support and sponsor of the different
talents that were being seen, thus not creating the opportunities that these people could
continue further their work and their talents, in a selective way and to be assisted with
teachers and respective coaches.
In some cases we have even the termination of their training and technical
assistance after finishing the compulsory education. Such a thing was making it possible
that many of them would be abandoned to spontaneity and not to the continuation of their
training in respective fields where they were being identified as promising people

New talents policies in Albania during transition

The period of transition in our country, as in many other aspects, had its influence on
education. We must underline the fact that there were made efforts policies to transfer
voluntary policies in a more productive in the course of these years. Nevertheless we must
point out that in general these policies have a more sporadic character in the way of in and
the application at the same time and its role and real importance changes from time to time
that they have on the unmark and develop new talents. We must point out that there are not
clear policies and long term strategies in this field, that would promise and make possible a
consolidated development of various qualitative steps in this aspect.
Therefore they gave up massive policies or type of the houses of pinners which
existed during the previous political regime, they didn't consider the role and function of
the new children’s cultural centres which replaced them. In this way the previous massive
policies were replaced by such policies made up constructed the given budget for various
activities that performed with these cultural centres, not giving technical and methodical
assistance for special elements of the gifted children which come out.
This greatly influenced such policies to be spontaneous and in the same time
within the framework of small activities like sport and art. Individuals who were talented
or gifted in various science branches, school was considered the way of their turn
(identification) and development. But it was not consolidated a productive tradition in this
aspect even in different school in the country.
Nowdays, there exist only these centres in different administrative regions called
children's cultural centres with the main direction artistic activities, to same extent sports.
Meanwhile the undertaking of state policies is sided with finding (absorbation) of the
talented through different olympiads and science competitions organized within the local
or national framework. The best are gathered and organized to represent the country in
various international activities, in certain science fields. The sponsorship of winners is
made possible in a sporadic way with modest financial support.
The importance and weight of private education is important to find out and
develop new talents in our country in the transition period. Different kinds of private
schools of the compulsory education, high education, high school and university they are
trying to give their support, the financial support, but also giving the necessary methodical
and scientific with teacher and trainers in the respective fields. It should be underlined that
the undertaking of such policies by the private educations institutions has encouraged to
find out winners or declared as among the best of different individ framework of local,
national and international activities organized in many directions.

Another novelty which should be pointed out in the transition period is the liberty
and spaces that democracy guarantees, especially for an isolated country as Albania for a
long period of time. Therefore after 1990 it was made use of relations made at various
international activities and other friendly and family relations, many of the new talents
considered to develop their talent and abilities in many European educational institutions
and so on.
It should be mentioned in this aspect many talents of art, singers and dancers and
various instrumentalists and most of them nowadays present themselves successfully in all
European and world scenes.
Different initiatives in certain business fields, although with sporadic character
also represent a special interest where the business itself is interested to take the best and
most interested in the fields they are interested in stipulating these individuals with rewards
sponsorship on a scholarship, technical and methodical assistance in the country and
abroad. Especially certain initiatives of the business in private sector are oriented towards
fields such as: information technology, different economical sciences (finance, business
administration, banks, etc).It seem that this is tightly linked with the future of such
businesses which undertake such initiatives, searching elite personnel to make possible
their progress towards success.
It should be underlined that in addition to way of dedicating to the new talents
there are some other initiatives outside their business fields which aim philonthropical
investments and sponsor different talents of various fields. Through these sponsorship they
are given special scholarship expenses for their activities, the necessary assistance in all
aspects, etc. Although we must point out that such a sponsorship is more oriented towards
sports and talented people of different kinds of sport.
It seems such a situation made it possible that the finding, development and
consolidation of new talents in our country, should be consisted with the teachers
conscience and passion of different subjects in every school of Albania. Adding the
materials given within the framework of the material programmed at school, new special
information/closely tied to the respective discipline, training only based on passion of
these teacher is the best and may be the only way influencing new talents mainly at
different branches at school.

The geographical distribution of new talents in Albania

The geographical distribution of new talents in Albania deserves special attention not only
for their evidence but mainly related to the conditions and factors which had an influence.
It must be underlined that even in this aspect it is emphasized the interaction of various
factors at different periods of the development of the society. During the period of the
communist regime it was a more harmonious distribution of them in all geographical space
of Albania. Whereas in the transition period and anwards such a geographical distribution
is mostly concentrated and oriented towards the main urban regions.
Nowadays, in the present, new talents are mainly in the urban regions of the
country. A sporadic case exists in rural regions of the country. Indeed the latest cases are
mostly related to individuals who express their talents and gift mainly on different kinds of
sport. There are some concrete examples in the region of Kukes and Tropoja in wrestling
and skiing, and also the case in Shtermen (Elbasan) where they have found talented
persons on lifting.

Such a disproportion seems to be tightly connected to conditions and quality of
education expressed in different ways in rural and urban regions of the country. According
to the statistics mainly the urban areas of the country are generally characterized by low
standards of the quality of education, very low quality of teaching and even with a
considerable percentage of teachers without diploma of higher education.
Quite the opposite happens in the urban areas of the country. The good quality of teaching,
the best conditions with laboratories and didactic and materials has given a great chance
and favour for the creation and development of different talents within the framework of
various scientific disciplines.
Another important marker having important role to find out new talented persons
is the set up and development of a new system of non public or private education in
Albania. Such a system has been more widespread in different urban regions than in those
rural affecting and in the same way offering new possibilities for competition among the
two main systems of the development of education, on one side public education and on
another side non public education or private education.
Some new interesting phenomena appears within the framework of the
geographical distribution of new talents. Their evidence at different science fields or other
kinds of art and sport generally are noticed more in cities or as they are called big urban
centres. This is tightly connected to the important efficiency in the statistical point of view
that takes the number of pupils in these cities, which in the same time are distinguished as
big centres of concentration of population. From the statistical point of view this greatly
influences the growth of the possibilities of appearing and noticing a great percentage of
talented individuals.
Similarly other reasons affecting this aspect seem to be closely tied with the
improved conditions in the system of education, which were previously mentioned some
cities which find out such talented persons in different fields are: Tirana, the capital city,
Shkodra, Durres, Fier, Vlora, Korca, Elbasan, etc.
Although we must stress out sporadic case of the appearance of new talents in
other towns in the north part, south, east, and central part of the country. Therefore the
individualization of such talents are prominent even in Tropoja, Saranda, Permeti, Puka,

The policies they used to find out new talents in Albania are closely connected to the
economical, social and political developments that Albania come during different
historical periods.
The policies they used with reference to new talents they have not for a long time the real
possibility not only for their identification, but mainly there were problems in respect to
the continuance of the development of the talents.
The appearance of new talents is mostly dedicated to the spontaneity with regard
to their development and not the presence of the structures or the application of new
efficient policies with reference to premises and favourable possibilities.
The period of the development of the democracy in Albania after 1990,s gave
rise to the necessary conditions to make possible the transition from the massive voluntary
policies to the application of the elite selective policies. Within this framework, even
spontaneous these are made efforts to make possible the application of suportives policies.
The first step with regard to this are dedicated to special sponsorships, different
scholarships, etc.

A novelty in this period is also making up of certain policies in the system of
private education with reference to the support of new talents not only for their financial
motivation, but also the realization of the optimal conditions for their technical and
methodical assistance.
There should be estimated even the support from different kinds of business with
reference to the financial support of new talents. Therefore it should be underlined that the
area in supporting of this business is mostly concentrated in the proper fields according to
the kind of business and less in other directions, except for some sporadic appearances
with philanthropic character.

Fractal intelligence development
The “David Star” Model
Florian COLCEAG 1
IRSCA Gifted Education and EDUGATE - The Romanian Consortium for the Education of
Gifted Children and Youth, Romania

Abstract. The fractal intelligence development model uses the “David Star Model” to
offer an understanding of unity in variability for human differentiation, giftedness,
evolution, and adaptation in structuring the individual set of dimensions and values.

Keywords. Fractal intelligence, david star model, giftedness, gifted students


Many researchers in educational psychology noticed some behaviour patterns that seems
to be universal in human terms. Jean Piaget, and Edward De Bono made some
observations regarding the repetition of some structural patterns regarding domineering
behavior, and group relationships in cooperating environments. Piaget noticed the
repetition of a three-position pattern (domineering, dominated, pacifist), De Bono noticed
the repetition of a six -position pattern (six thinking hats). Renzulli also created the three-
ring model that characterizes giftedness. Many other models suggest that there are two
different kinds of psychological characteristics interfering within a human mental formula,
but there are in fact two main generators of characteristics, a natural human set of
characteristics, and a socially nurtured set of characteristics.

Structural Niches Model vs. Fractal Development

These observations led to a fractal development in the structural niches model, that can
explain both directions of differentiating aptitudes, and the dynamics of intelligence
development (see Fig [1]).
Fractal intelligence is developed by the interfering of two sets of characteristics,
one corresponding to the social characteristics of humans (commitment, intelligence,
creativity), and the other one to the natural characteristics of humans (wisdom, balance,
optimization).The interference among these characteristics is determined by a certain
topology, and will generate other characteristics. For example intelligence and wisdom
will generate leadership capacities, and the second set of characteristics will be able to
recover the primary characteristics, for example leadership and strategic thinking will
generate wisdom. The opposite characteristics will generate dimensions of human
intelligence behaviors. For example wisdom-commitment will generate the “to- do

Corresponding author: Florian Colceag, Gifted Education IRSCA Gifted Education and
EDUGATE- The Romanian Consortium for the Education of Gifted Children and Youth,

dimension”, intelligence-balance, the “to-be dimension”, creativity-optimization the “to-
have dimension”. The second set of opposite characteristics will generate different
dimensions: social skills-success, the “to-become dimension”, leadership-care the “to-
protect dimension”, and efficiency-strategic thinking, the “to- succeed dimension”.

Fig 1. Fractal intelligence model. Author: Florian Colceag.

The main generating model will engender other new characteristics that can be
described by smaller David stars models. Those new characteristics will correspond to new
structuring dimensions. For example, care and success will not generate only balance, but
also self- esteem, creating a new psychic dimension, the “harmony dimension”.
The main characteristics modeled by the main David Star can be considered as
general for the human species. The smaller David Stars can be considered as connected
with cultural local model, even smaller David Stars can be connected with family models,
or even individual characteristics.
These characteristics are created by the interference between the social-cultural
needs expressed in niches of needs, and profiles of personality corresponding to these
niches, and the individual personal aptitudes which can be developed into a symbiotic
correspondence with these social niches.
The level of richness of this symbiosis can describe giftedness into a complex
socio-cultural, economic, individual context, and can measure success.
The model is not deterministic, giving a big degree of individual and cultural
freedom, but is self- sustainable for each people’s logic. There are various degrees of
cultural and individual specificities describing both cultural dimensions of thinking, and
individual abilities adjusted to various social and economic niches.
This fractal intelligence model allows us the understanding of unity in variability
for human differentiation, giftedness, evolution, and adaptation in structuring the
individual set of dimensions and values.


We can therefore understand why and how students in a classroom will differentiate the
own characteristics, and why they have stable roles into the class economy of
communication (for example, the leader, the clown, the dumb, etc.). We can also
understand why there are two students competing for the same position, each one
developing slightly different personal reactions, and skills in the same learning
All this is due to the following: the normal tendency for a group of people to
structure itself as shown in the David Star model, and to extend the generating model for
new characteristics into smaller David Stars in a fractal way. These characteristics explain
why a big group of people can be led, why they obey to the same rules or customs, and
why there are differences between the David Star dimensions of a nation’s leader, and the
David Star dimensions of a simple family man.


[1] Dabrowsky, K. (1964) Positive Disintegration. Boston: Little Brown & Co. Edi.
[2] Dabrowsky, K. (1967) Personality- Shaping through Positive Disintegration. Boston: Little Brown & Co.
[3] De Bono, E. (1985) Six Thinking Hats, Boston, Little Brown & Co.
[4] Guilford, J. P.(1967). The Nature of Human Intelligence. N.Y.: McGraw-Hill. Jacobson, W 1979,
Population Education, Teachers College Press, New York.
[5] Milgram, R. & Goldring, E. B. (1991) Special Education Options for Gifted and Talented Learners. In
[6] Milgram (Ed.), Counceling gifted and talented children: A guide for teachers, councelors, and parents, 23-26.
Norwoon, NJ: Ablex.
[7] Milgram, R. & Dunn R. (1993) Teaching and Counseling Gifted and Talented Adolescents. An International
Learning Style Perspective. Praeger.
[8] Myers, I. B. (1962) The Myers- Briggs Type Indicator, Palo Alto, CA.: Consulting Psychologists Press.
[9] Myers, I. & Mc Caulley, M (1985) Manual for the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Palo Alto, CA: Consulting
Psychologists Press.
[10] Mc Donald, K. B. (1998) Evolution, Culture and Five-Factor Model. Journal of Psychology, 29 p. 119-149.
[11] Piaget, J. (1958) Growth of Logical Thinking, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
[12] Power, E.1995. Educational Philosophy, New York, Garland Publishing Inc.
[13] Renzouli, J.S. (1988) The Three-Ring Conception of Giftedness. Baum, S.M., Reis, S. M & Maxfield, L.R.
(Eds) Nurturing the Gifts and Talents of Primary Grade Students. Mansfield Center, C.T.: Creative Learning
[14] Sternberg, R. J. (1990) Methaphors of Mind: Conception of the nature of intelligence. Cambridge,
University Press.

Quagmires and Quandaries:
Ethical Uncertainties in Scientific Research
Network of Youth Excellence, USA

Abstract. Ethical conduct of research requires anticipation and thoughtful

consideration of the processes and consequences of scientific inquiries. This
essential skill can be developed. While regulations and professional codes of
conduct provide guidance, they cannot address the complexities and nuances of
real-world research, nor can they foresee all ethical issues that arise as new
technologies emerge. Case studies are an effective way for young researchers to
develop skills in the slippery, messy, imprecise practice of ethical research.

Keywords. Ethics, Research ethics, Case studies


Even the most conscientious scientists cannot control all the uses of knowledge derived
from their research, nor prevent their negative consequences. Many situations pose
challenging quandaries where the appropriate action is not easily determined. Even so, it
is essential that young scientists examine the ethical dilemmas of their work. Case studies
are an effective way to develop skills in ethical analysis and decision making, by engaging
young scientists in the complexities of real world ethical issues. Analyzing and discussing
cases helps students understand how difficult it may be to make ethical decisions, even
with the best of intetntions and efforts. As they examine and discuss cases, students
develop the ability to anticipate and address ethical challenges in their own research. It is
unlikely that as scientists they will face the exact conundrums they previously considered,
but in developing a repitoire of responses to a number of ethical problems, they will
develop a moral sensibility and competency that can be applied to a wide range of ethical
dilemmas in their research

1. "You shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis, 3 v. 5)

1.1 “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” (from Robert Burns)

Dr. Lawrence Brody is head of the Molecular Pathogenesis Section of the National Center
for Human Genome Research at the US National Institutes of Health (NIH). One day in
1994, as he was examining research files of breast cancer subjects, Dr. Brody noticed that
the files included an unusually high number of women with Jewish surnames. His first

Corresponding author: Peggy Connolly, Network of Youth Excellence, 1445
Brentwood Lane, Wheaton, IL 60187-8427 USA

reaction was that this was an aberration, but a “what if” lurked in his scientific mind. He
examined additional NIH files to see if there were an historically disproportionate number
of women with Jewish surnames who had suffered breast cancer. It appeared that
Ashkenazim1 Jewish women were at significantly higher risk for breast cancer. When he
discovered that the high incidence of breast cancer in this population was consistent over
time, Dr. Brody was faced with an ethical dilemma. One the one hand, preventive
measures and early diagnosis of breast cancer save lives. On the other hand, there was a
real danger that a group who had already suffered extreme discrimination and
stigmatization could face more prejudice if his hypothesis was confirmed and the findings
made public.
The Ashkenazim Jewish population (descendent from Central and Eastern
European ancestors), like other populations of common ancestry, is at higher risk for
certain genetic diseases. Ashkenazim Jews are at greater risk for cystic fibrosis, a systemic
disease that causes deadly build-up of mucus in the lungs; and Tay-Sachs disease, an
incurable, progressive, fatal neurological disease. For over three decades, Jewish couples
considering marriage have been screened for Tay-Sachs disease and cystic fibrosis. If both
partners are carriers of either gene mutation, they have a 25% chance that each child will
have cystic fibrosis or Tay-Sachs disease, and are advised to consider different marriage
partners, adoption, or other reproductive options.
Dr. Brody and his colleagues identified a specific deletion in BRCA1 (a gene
associated with a 50% risk of developing breast cancer) in many of the tissue samples of
Jewish women who had been treated for breast cancer. Exactly the same mutation was
found in a significantly high number of 858 banked tissue samples from Ashkenazim Jews
screened for cystic fibrosis and Tay-Sachs disease. Not a single similar deletion was found
in tissue samples from a control group of 815 non-Jews. Expanded surveys continued to
yield the same result. Evidence that Ashkenazim women were at particular risk for a
specific genetically-triggered breast cancer continued to mount and Dr. Brody, an ethically
conscientious scientist, had to decide what to do.
Public awareness of a population of common ancestry at risk for genetic disease
may create a perception of genetic inferiority. In the United States and other countries
without universal health coverage, members of that population face discrimination in
obtaining health insurance and, because of the high cost of employer-provided healthcare,
discrimination in employment. Young women whose mothers have had breast cancer may
have their marriage prospects limited. Population genetic research may cause social and
emotional harm for all members of the community, including those who have not
consented to participate in research.
Recognizing both the burdens and benefits of expanded research on the
comparative prevalence of the BRCA1 deletion in Jewish and non-Jewish populations, Dr.
Brody met with rabbis from Washington DC area synagogues to discuss his finding and
the possible consequences of continued research. As a scientist, he wanted to continue the
research with sufficient tissue samples and medical information to allow statistically
significant conclusions, but would do so only if this was supported by the Jewish
community. The rabbis discussed the medical and ethical ramifications with their
congregations. The response from the Jewish community was overwhelming: within six
weeks, Dr. Brody received the number of tissue samples he had hoped to collect in a year.
Further studies confirmed that Ashkenazim Jewish women are more likely to carry a

The Ashkenazim Jews are descendent from Central and Eastern European ancestors, as opposed to
Sephardic Jews whose ancestors originally lived in Spain and Portugal.

BRCA1 deletion mutation than the general population, and are at higher risk of developing
both breast and ovarian cancer than women without this specific mutation. These results
encouraged women at risk to consider screening for the mutation, have more frequent
mammograms, and make behavioral changes to lessen their risk.
However, these benefits were accompanied by burdens. Dr. Brody’s concerns
materialized: newspaper editorials raised the issue of genetic inferiority, he received
reports of employment and insurance discrimination, women diagnosed with breast cancer
felt compelled to leave the community for treatment so their daughters’ marriage prospects
would not be diminished, some women had unnecessary prophylactic mastectomies and
ooverectomies. In addition, tensions arose between family members who wanted to know
their risk status or participate in research and those who did not, as genetic testing reveals
information about blood relatives, whether they want the knowledge or not.
This case is useful to demonstrate that even most thoughtful planning cannot
prevent harms in research. It raises intriguing questions for discussion:
• Who has the right to know an individual’s genetic makeup? Individual? Spouse?
Potential Spouse? Parent of a minor child? Parent of an adult child? Siblings?
Children? Physician? Employer? Potential Employer? Government? Insurance
carrier? School? Potential adoptive parents?
• Do parents have the right to know a child’s predisposition to a genetic condition
(Breast Cancer? Sexual Orientation? Huntington’s?)
• When is it ethical to use genetic information in medicine? To predict
predisposition or malady? To treat? To diagnose? In preimplantation selection?
(Does the reason for the selection make a difference?) To select against disease or
malady? To select for desired traits? To select against a malady (cystic fibrosis,
Tay-Sachs disease)? To select for a malady (i.e. deafness, dwarfism)?
• Does the physician have an obligation to protect confidentiality of a patient with
a genetic condition or an obligation to inform family if the condition can be
prevented or treated? (Courts have ruled both ways: focus on the ethical
dilemma, not the legal issue.)
• When should children be tested? When parents request it? If there is evidence of
a genetic condition in the family? To diagnose predisposition or genetic condition
(Does it matter if treatment is available or not? If patient can afford it or not)?
• When should information about a genetic condition be released to parents and
when to the child? Should the school be informed?
• Is it ethical to make genetic tests available directly to the public? How will this
effect Standard of Care if consumers self-diagnose and demand treatments? How
should physicians respond to public pressure to create a new standard of care in
genetic treatment that doctors feel is inappropriate or ineffective? How will this
affect physician time with patients? Who should judge the efficacy of genetic
• When a physician orders a genetic test, whose responsibility is informed consent?
How complete should information be? Is it ethical to explain only the medical
consequences and fail to address the potential consequences of genetic
discrimination in insurance, employment, purchasing a home, etc.?
• Do physicians have enough education to understand whether the benefits of
genetic intervention outweigh the risks? (i.e. of the 1000+ BRCA mutations,
which are dangerous and which are innocuous?)

• Non-directiveness is a fundamental principle of genetic counseling. Is it ethical to
offer prenatal testing without allowing reproductive choice?
• Who should have access to genetic screening? Testing? Treatment?
• Who should own and control genetic information? The individual? Physician?
Insurer? Government? Pharmaceutical Company? University Research Center?
• Is it child abuse to choose to have a child with a genetic malady?
• Is it ethical to test without treatment? Does it matter whether appropriate
treatment is unknown, or because it is not available due to insurance coverage or
• What should happen to clinical specimens? Should fully informed consent
always secured before specimens are taken, stored, used?
• Genetic tests are unlike other medical tests in that the information affects not only
the patient, but also the patient’s family. This puts family members at risk for
discrimination based on information that may not be applicable to them. How
should the confidentiality of patients be protected in genetic records? Are
protections necessary for electronic records?
• How will patient confidentiality be protected if Smartcards become
standard? (Smartcards are credit card sized and will hold information about the
individual on about 10,000 genetic conditions.)
• Is it ethical for a community to be screened for genetic conditions without the
consent of all members, especially when they may be harmed by the knowledge
of the results (i.e. discrimination because of traits or conditions such as
alcoholism, Huntington’s or breast cancer linked to identifiable populations)?
• What should physicians do when genetic testing could result in appropriate
treatment, but there is a possibility that the patient will lose insurance coverage,
employment, etc.?
• Should the patenting of genes be allowed? Patenting cell lines created from
diseased organs?
• Should patients be told all of the information revealed by a genetics test? Should
the patient who has an APOE test for heart disease also be told if it indicates
Alzheimer’s? Should information be entered on the medical record without
informing the patient?
• Should the patient be informed if the record will be made available to insurers,
employers, or others? Should the patient be informed if the record already has
been made available to insurers, employers, or others?

1.2 “The awful shadow of some unseen Power floats though unseen among us...” (Percy
Bysshe Shelley)

In contrast to Dr. Brody’s conscientious efforts to make ethically wise decisions, the case
of John Moore is an example of deliberate deceit.
When John Moore was diagnosed in 1976 with hairy-cell leukemia, a rare cancer,
he sought treatment from a specialist at a prominent research university hospital. The
physician was aware, but did not inform Mr. Moore, that certain of his blood and tissue
cells had enormous scientific – and financial – potential. The doctor recommended that
Mr. Moore’s spleen be removed. Before the operation, and without telling Mr. Moore, the
doctor and a university researcher made written arrangements to take the spleen to a
separate research unit and conduct research unrelated to the patient’s medical care. The

goal of the research was the development of commercially lucrative products from John
Moore’s blood products and tissue. Although Mr. Moore consented to have his spleen
removed, he was not informed about the research, not the commercial potential of his
biological products and their financial value to his doctor, the researchers, and the
university. Following surgery, Mr. Moore’s doctor instructed him to make repeated return
visits to provide samples of blood, blood serum, skin, bone marrow aspirate, and sperm
that the doctor said must be done only under his direction. From 1976 to 1983, each time
these procedures were done, Mr. Moore traveled over two thousand miles between his
home and the hospital. He became increasingly suspicious of the follow-up care, and asked
his doctor if any products of commercial value could be derived from his tissue and blood
products. The doctor told him no, and actively discouraged him from asking such
In 1979, the physician and researcher successfully established a cell line from
John Moore’s tissue. In 1981, the university applied for a patent for the cell line: the patent
was issued in 1984. The physician and the university regents negotiated a contract with a
biotech firm for the firm’s exclusive use of products derived from Mr. Moore’s cells in
return for stock shares, $15 million, and other compensation. Mr. Moore’s physician, the
researcher, and the university shared in the profits. John Moore received nothing.
When John Moore discovered the truth, and realized how he had been deceived,
he sued his physician, the university regents, the researcher, and two biotech firms that
profited from sale of his patented cell line. Despite acknowledging that the physician failed
to disclose a conflict of interest and his repeated denial of any commercial value of Mr.
Moore’s cells, a strongly divided court ruled in favor of the defendants. The majority
opinion stated that giving patients ownership rights to their tissue would impede scientific
research and medical progress.
The value of products developed from John Moore’s spleen to date has exceeded
$3 billions in sales.
Because the John Moore case is so disturbing, it raises a number of provocative
questions that generate excellent discussion:
• Was John Moore harmed?
• Do patients have a right to share in profits from commercialization of their
tissue? Do their doctors?
• Should it be acceptable for scientists, physicians, corporations, and institutions to
profit from products developed from human tissue and organs, while denying
patients and donors the same right to profit?
• If it’s unethical for patients and donors to profit from commodification of human
bioresources, is it not also unethical for scientists, physicians, corporations, and
institutions to profit from products developed from human tissue and organs?
• If patients or research subjects are allowed to share in profits from their
biological resources, will this encourage others to demand a greater share of the
profits or delay research?
• Should donors be compensated? Should they receive a proportion of profits?
• Should patients have the right to own or determine the disposition of their excised
tissue or organs? Who should decide what will become of discarded tissue?
Patient? Doctor? Right of eminent domain? Scientists? Government? Hospital?
Corporation? Educational or research institutions?

• Should any right of individuals to own their diseased tissue and organs be greater
than the right of society to benefit from the knowledge and products they may
• One of the justices who heard the Moore case suggested that rather than allowing
private enterprise to profit from trafficking in human organs, all valuable excised
body parts should be placed in a public repository from which all scientists would
be free to obtain materials for research. Is this a good idea?
• Has the Moore decision created greater acceptance for commodification of
human body parts?
• If doctors are not allowed to profit from clinical research, will this hinder medical
and scientific progress?
• What is the affect of patenting on scientific research?
• Even when a medical procedure is necessary or therapeutic, is there a duty to
disclose the doctor’s potential to profit financially from it?
• What is the purpose of intellectual property protection?

2. Additional Case Studies

2.1. Neuroscience

Imaging technologies, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), have proven to be

powerful diagnostic tools in clinical medicine, allowing physicians to identify the presence
and course of many diseases and conditions that otherwise go undetected or are
misdiagnosed. This technology has provided biomedical researchers a detailed map of a
wide range of physiological processes, especially those related to the human brain. A
recent innovation, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), permits neuroscientists
to track the flow of blood through the brain, allowing them to correlate various mental
states and processes with neuronal activity in certain areas of the brain. Researchers have
found that some parts of the brain are specifically associated with language use and
development, while others correlate more closely with particular cognitive and emotional
states. Neuronal patterns associated with complicated processes, such as decision-making
and memory retrieval, and with personality traits, such as empathy and extroversion,
appear to be identifiable through fMRI.
While the commercial use of brain scans to test for personality traits is only
hypothetical at this time, another kind of practical application of the fMRI is already
available to consumers. Last year, San Diego-based No Lie MRI opened its doors for
business, offering lie-detection services using fMRI. Likewise, Cephos Corp. of Pepperell,
MA offers the same services at the Medical University of South Carolina. Both boast an
accuracy rate of 90-93 per cent, slightly higher than that of polygraphs (85-90 per cent).
Polygraphs detect deception by sensing, among other things, perspiration, heart rate, and
respiratory activity. Subtle increases in heart rate or perspiration are associated with the
nervousness people typically experience when lying. As these outward signs can be
suppressed, polygraph examinations usually do not offer enough reliability to be
admissible as evidence in court. fMRIs may enjoy an advantage in this regard. By tracking
neuronal activity associated with lying, an examiner can identify the veracity of statements
with a high rate of accuracy.

The fMRI has found practical applications unrelated to medicine, lie-detection, or
pure research. One proposed use relates to the possibility of detecting personality traits
and mental capacities. Employers, insurers, and schools are interested in the character
tendencies and capacities of applicants. Applicants for sales positions might be screened
for extroversion or persistence. Others might be screened for the capacity to multi-task.
Health insurers might screen for personality traits associated with high-risk behaviors.
Credit card, mortgage, and other financial institutions might screen applicants against
specific character traits.
Not everyone shares the enthusiasm surrounding the use of fMRIs for lie-
detection and characterization of personality traits. Civil libertarians worry that it is one
more threat to individual privacy. Some fear that the technology will be used to read
people’s thoughts. Others charge that scant attention has been paid to potential misuses
and the negative impact it would have on civil liberties. Information that is usually legally
off-limits could be gathered through an fMRI. There may be temptation for employers
and schools to use this technology to screen applicants for desirable traits and to weed out
other candidates whose tests suggest undesirable characteristics. Another concern relates
to the storage of personal information gathered through the use of fMRIs. How will
confidentiality be maintained? Some worry that brain scans have not proven themselves in
the real world. That is, they may work reliably with test subjects when little is at stake, but
may provide in accurate results when there are serious real-life consequences.
Nonetheless, entrepreneurs of fMRI technology remain unconvinced that any
serious irresolvable ethical challenges loom on the horizon.

2.2. Intellectual Property

Dwayne Kirk had a long and excellent relationship with his mentor, Charles Arntzen of
Arizona State University, Tempe…until he discovered large sections of his first
publication copied word for word in a book by Arntzen. Arntzen excused his use of Kirk’s
work without his knowledge or consent, claiming that this is common practice in science,
using another researcher’s work, he said, is “a way to conserve energy”. Arntzen further
argued that since Kirk worked on his research team they had a history of sharing materials,
and because the book was not peer-reviewed his unauthorized use of Kirk’s work was
acceptable. When Kirk complained, Arntzen removed him from research projects. Other
students who challenged their mentors’ or professors’ use of their work, have suffered
retribution, such as failure to defend their dissertations successfully, poor
recommendations, removal from research teams, loss of teaching positions, professional
ostracism, and blacklisting.
Many colleges and universities have severe penalties - including failure,
suspension, and expulsion -for plagiarism. Although institutions vary slightly in their
definition of plagiarism, it is universally understood to be taking credit for another’s work
without acknowledging the source. Some schools expect students to acknowledge anyone
with whom they have discussed their ideas: Harvard requires students to credit others in
their papers if they have had conversations with them that significantly influenced their
ideas. Lawrence University students are expected to affirm the honor code on all written
work, for example, acknowledging if they used a tutor. To ensure proper credit is given,
Presbyterian College requires the writing center to report to teachers the names of students
who have sought help. Some feel this is extreme: in a survey at the college, one professor
argued against such stringent requirements, suggesting that seeking assistance in learning
how to write is a normal part of the educational process.

Less strict standards appear to apply generally for faculty in academia. Some lab
directors are routinely included as authors on all publications coming out of their labs,
although they may have done little of the research and none of the writing. Some
professors assign students to write articles or chapters for them, without acknowledging
the students’ contributions in the publication. Other teachers use excerpts from student
papers in their own work, justifying their actions with the argument that these are not the
students’ original ideas, but are an expansion of the teacher’s ideas. Professors also
complain about intellectual theft by colleagues: ideas stolen in the peer-review process, or
delaying a review to allow another colleague to publish first. Sometimes failure to cite
appropriately is blamed on the pressure to publish to preserve a career, or charged to
inadvertent oversight in the rush to meet publishing deadlines, or to confusion when trying
to write multiple papers at once.
In the past few years, several prominent professors and scientists have published
as their own work excerpts from the work of others. When exposed, they frequently
excused their actions by blaming their students for oversights, protesting that they were
unaware of the plagiarism – e.g. quotation citations accidentally missed by research
assistants, or material inserted by research assistants that the professor did not intend to be
in the text. Some excuse their actions on other grounds. Laurence Tribe, a Harvard Law
professor, acknowledged that he used the (unattributed) work of Henry Abraham in his
book, “God Save This Honorable Court”, but claimed that he was attempting to write a
book for lay readers, without those footnotes that can be so intimidating. He also cited the
tradition in law of relying on law clerks to do much of the lawyer’s writing, suggesting that
this makes the rules of plagiarism murkier for lawyers.
Not all believe it is appropriate for professors to claim credit for students’ work.
Richard Lewontin, Harvard Professor Emeritus calls the practice dishonest, decrying the
culture of academia that gives those in authority exploitative power over their students
…”much as a lord had unchallenged property rights in the products of serfs…”

a) Social Sciences

In 2000 a reporter for the New York Times, developing an article about gay and lesbian
teenagers and the Internet, posted a notice in an on-line chat room. The reporter received
responses from a number of adolescents, and followed up by meeting and talking with
them. She learned that the Internet was helpful to many children with questions about
their sexual identity. For example, children who worried about their homosexual interests
found support from others in similar situations. Many found consolation in discovering
they were not "the only one". Some were developing mutual interests and even falling in
Adolescent lust made its presence felt in these interviews as well. One teenager
reported he had been visiting pornography sites, and thrilling to the experience, since age
11. The reporter asked teens about sexual experiences ("cybering") they had carried out
on-line. Masturbation to sexy messages and pictures was common. The reporter learned
some teens had been in contact with people many years older who were interested in them
sexually, and that one boy had hacked his way into the account of someone in whom he
was sexually interested, viewing and deleting messages from a competitor.
In one instance, the reporter traveled to a rural Southern town and met with a 15
year old boy without the knowledge of his parents. Such an approach would not be
permitted by the codes of conduct for researchers in areas other than journalism (e.g.
psychologists and sociologists) relative to the protection of research subjects. Such

protections are considered particularly important when dealing with children; for example,
typically interviewers are not allowed to question children without their parents' consent.
Particularly when topics are sensitive (e.g. sex, religion, illegal activity) parental consent
must be obtained before children can be asked to give information.
The reporter's article in the New York Times stressed the value of the Internet for
early exploration of sexual identity, especially for children who are isolated and worry
about their parents' reactions. While articulating many benefits of a cyberculture protected
from prying eyes, however, the article made clear the dangers of sexual predation. Still
some critics of the article worried that in touting the benefits of on-line conversations, the
article may have the result of exposing naïve or troubled teens to sophisticated sexual
The Society of Professional Journalists recognizes a commitment to avoiding
harm. It appreciates that "gathering and reporting information may cause harm," and that
reporting is "not a license for arrogance." The Society further recognizes the importance
of being especially sensitive when dealing with children, as well as an obligation to the
"voiceless," and to support exchange of viewpoints, especially those that others might be
loathe to air.

b) Biochemistry/Chemistry

In 1939 when DDT was introduced as an insecticide, it was widely believed to have little
toxic effect on plants and animals. Over the following two decades, DDT was widely used
worldwide to control disease carrying insects, particularly mosquitoes and typhus-
transmitting lice, as well as insects that cause crop devastation. However, after about a
quarter century of use, it was recognized that DDT causes severe accumulated
environmental damage, including disruption of the life cycles of plants and animals, high
toxicity in fish, decline of bird-life as eggshells became too fragile to withstand the
mother's weight, proliferation of resistant insect species, and effects on human endocrine,
immune, and nervous systems. The Center for Disease Control identifies tremors, seizures,
reduced duration of lactation, and increased premature birth as some of the risks DDT
poses to humans. In the 1970'S, many countries banned DDT.
Malaria is the most widespread disease in the world, striking about 500 million
people a year, and killing about 2.7 million, mostly children. In Africa alone, over a
million children under the age of 5 die annually from malaria. Many adults who are
stricken with the disease are unable to work or care for children. Malaria is a chronic
parasitic infectious disease, passed to humans through the bite of one of about 35 different
species of malaria-transmitting mosquito. Malaria also is transmitted through tainted
blood transfusion and shared needles. It is passed from pregnant women to the fetus,
causing the placenta to become infested with the parasite. Control of malaria is difficult
due to the complex interactions of the numerous, genetically variable parasites and
disease-transmitting mosquitoes, local ecologies, and human hosts.
The most effective, cost efficient method of fighting malaria is DDT, applied
twice yearly to interior walls of homes. The female anopheles mosquito, whose bite
transmits malaria, feeds on humans mainly at night, when people tend to be at home. Non-
resistant mosquitoes die quickly upon exposure to DDT. DDT is also irritating to resistant
mosquitoes, however, which respond, when exposed to it, by flying outside to avoid the
The goal of United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) treaty negotiations
is to eliminate DDT because of the environmental damage it causes. Although the twice-

yearly application of DDT to the interior of homes has only minor environmental impact,
it would be banned under the treaty. Most wealthy countries support the ban. It is
opposed, however, by many poor countries, in which malaria is a serious problem, that
lack the scientific and technical resources to develop alternatives to DDT.

c) Reproductive Technologies

Sharon Duchesneau and Candace McCullough are both deaf, and are the parents of a deaf
child, Jehanne. To increase the chances of having a second deaf child, they selected a
sperm donor with a family history of several generations of deafness Their son, Gauvin,
was born with a complete hearing loss in one ear and a serious hearing loss in the other.
Although a hearing aid would allow Gauvin some level of hearing in the one ear, his
parents refuse any treatment that allows even residual hearing, saying they will allow him
to choose hearing or deafness when he is older.
The use of reproductive technologies to select for desired traits has long raised
ethical concerns about using technologies to give children a disproportionate advantage.
The decisions of Gauvin’s parents to ensure he would be born deaf, and remain deaf, have
raised the issue of defining “handicap” and “enhancement”. While many believe deafness
to be a disability – it is listed as such in the Americans with Disabilities Act, and many
sperm banks will not accept sperm from donors who have congenital deafness - others,
such as Gauvin’s parents, believe deafness to be a benefit.
Critics of genetic selection for deafness or failure to remediate hearing loss
consider deafness to be a disability that limits a child’s potential. They believe deafness
limits pleasure and safety, creates difficulty in acquiring language, impedes
communication, and may cause a child to be ostracized. Children's rights advocates
strongly oppose selecting for deafness, as inability to hear limits language development
and career options, and eliminates ability to hear the sounds of music, nature, or human
speech. Children who grow up with hearing playmates find these friendships diminish as
talking in adolescence becomes as important as physical play in childhood. Others fear that
selecting deafness for a child may lead to more restrictive use of reproductive technologies
for parents at risk of conceiving a child with genetic maladies such as cystic fibrosis or Tay
Sachs. If parents are allowed to select for deafness, some ask if parents may also select for
Proponents argue that the deaf community experiences a degree of emotional
intimacy not achieved in the hearing world, and these bonds of community outweigh the
benefits of hearing. Deaf people often have a heightened sense of smell, touch and vision.
In an interview in the Washington Post, Candace McCullough called deafness a cultural
identity, not a handicap. Supporters say that McCullough and Duchesneau did not create a
handicapped child: they allowed a handicapped child to be born. Jim Roots, of the
Canadian Association for the Deaf, sees no difference in deaf parents who wish to have a
deaf child like themselves, and hearing parents who fit a child with hearing aids, use
cochlear implants, or resort to surgery to allow their children to hear. Clients of sperm
banks are able to choose characteristics they want in a donor, such as height, hair color,
race, and other traits, and are able to choose a donor without evidence of disease or
disability who matches themselves as closely as possible. Why should deaf parents not be
allowed to select traits that reflect themselves in their children?

d) Genetics

In early fall 2000, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (Boston) and Duke University
Medical Center were the first of several health care facilities to enter into a partnership
with Ardais Corporation, a biotechnology company. Ardias Corporation's stated goal is to
accelerate understanding of the links between certain genetic patterns and disease, and so
improve clinical applications by facilitating better diagnosis, drug development, and
treatment. Ardais has created a tissue bank to provide genetic researchers with disease-
specific tissue and detailed patient information to enable researchers to link specific
genetic sequences with diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and neurological disorders.
Ardais provides biological materials that would otherwise be discarded as medical waste,
processes them into usable samples, and makes them available to researchers.
Prior to surgery, a hospital nurse asks patients if they would donate tissue
samples left over from their surgery to the tissue bank. Surgeons do not know which
patients have consented, to prevent the possibility that additional tissue will be removed
for the purpose of providing samples. All patient information is anonymous, protected by
a rigorous coding system. The hospitals sell this tissue to Ardais. Ardais in turn sells the
patient information to biomedical researchers. Ardais also receives license fees.
Although sale of human organs is illegal in the United States, no similar legal
restriction applies currently to the sale of human tissue. The medical community, at this
time, has not discussed extensively either the morality of selling human tissue or who
might have a right to share in the profits. There is concern about the legitimacy of consent
given immediately before surgery.

e) Final Notes

The cases were written to reflect that more than one perspective has moral legitimacy, and
that intelligent and caring people can hold diametrically opposing opinions, it is interesting
to have students defend both positions, and try to propose common ground.
Cases 2.1 was written by Martin Leever, and cases 2.2 through 2.6 were written
by Peggy Connolly for the National Collegiate Ethics Bowl, and are used with permission
of the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics.

Training of Creativity:
Theoretical and Practical Aspects
Vilnius Pedagogical University, Department of Psychology of Didactics, Lithuania
Educational Center for Gifted in Lithuania

Abstract. This article describes theoretical and practical aspects of training creativity.
The research was done in in Lithuania in Educational Center for Gifted in Lithuania
as well as in Vilnius Pedagogical University. Many programs and courses in
creativity have proposed ways of seeking to deliberately stimulate and develop
creativity. Differences in the understanding of creativity influence the kind of training
strategies applied. Scholars who see problems solving as a central aspect of creativity
use techniques based on heuristics. If the main aspect of creativity is associational
mechanisms, imagery techniques are suggested. There have been identified a number
of general of approaches of creativity training including: cognitive approaches,
personality approaches, motivational approaches and social interaction approaches
(Scott et al., 2004). The effective programs are those that try to influence different
aspects of creativity – cognitive, personality, attitudes, behavior, interpersonal, affect,
and environmental. Creativity training, then, can be effective. Sizable effects can be
observed using four major criteria applied in evaluating training – divergent thinking,
problem – solving, performance, and attitudes-behavior (Scott, et al., 2004). The
different techniques of creativity training are also recommended. These techniques
were successfully used in the special program of creativity in Lithuania training the
creative abilities of Vilnius Pedagogical University students (Grakauskaitė–
Karkockienė, 2005, 2006; Karkockienė, Butkienė, 2005). The research was
represented in the volume of Science Education, 2006 (Grakauskaite-Karkockiene,

Keywords. Key words: creativity, training of creativity, effectiveness of creativity

training, programs and methods of creativity training.


Over the course of the half last century, psychologists have a particular focus on creativity
abilities training. Developing educational programs help to enhance students’ creativity is
among the most important goals of our educational system.
Creativity means one’s ability to perceive a problem and to generate new ideas,
or to think independently and deal quickly and easily with a problem situation, or to find
an original way of solving a problem, or to create novel things (Guilford, 1968b; Torrance,
1974; Sternberg, O’Hara, 1999; Sternberg et al., 2005). Ability to think creatively depends
not only on one’s knowledge and skills. Rather, it is determined by one’s special ability to
distinguish a problem, and to utilise, speedily and in multiple ways, information contained
in tasks one has been set (Guilford, 1968; Torrance, 1962).
J. P. Guilford (1968) worked out a three-dimensional model of intellectual
structure covering 120 intellect factors. J. P. Guilford sought to distinguish a factor
responsible for the ability to perceive or feel problems. Such a factor was eventually
located within the intellectual structure model. It was called divergent thinking. Divergent

thinking means a particular type of thinking accounting for the emergence of a wide
variety of original ideas; more specifically, it means thinking in many directions,
proceeding from particular things to general ones. Divergent thinking is considered by
many scholars to be a vital and most important creative skill able to bring into effect both
creative problem solving power and creative behaviour (Feldhusen, 1994; Sternberg,
O’Hara, 1999; Mumford, 1999, Scott et al., 2004).
E. P. Torrance elaborated the concept of creativity advanced by J. P. Guilford to
produce eventually the worldwide-known creativity tests designed to elicit from a testee
his or her divergent thinking ability (Sternberg et al., 2005). Basing himself on J. P.
Guilford’s theory, E. P. Torrance (1974) distinguished four parameters of divergent
thinking, namely, the fluency, the originality, the flexibility, and the elaboration, and
worked out a creativity test (Torrance Test of Creative Thinking, TTCT, 1974). This
instrument was purposed mainly for the investigation into divergent thinking.

1. The Effectiveness of Creativity Training Programs

The belief that creativity can be enhanced is discussed. Many authors agree that creativity
can be enhanced because human potentials can be fulfilled. Efforts to enhance creativity
will not expand one's inborn potentialities but they can insure that potentialities are
maximized (Plucker, Runco, 1999). Different components of creativity such as cognitive,
attitudinal, interpersonal components can be enhanced through a stimulating environment
that induces ideas and creates solutions to problems.
Different psychological studies give different views on creativity and the chances
and methods of training for creative thinking. Hardly numerous on a world scale, multiple
studies on creativity training have provided rather contradictory evidence.
To provide a comparison of research into creativity by different authors is a
complicated task. Firstly, different authors work with subjects differing in terms of age.
Secondly, they use different training techniques. And thirdly, relevant programmes differ
in terms of their duration. Studies on creative thinking are available only from foreign
psychological sources aiming, in the main, to demonstrate the effectivity of definite
training methods (such as the “brainstorming” by A. Osborn, or the “Purdue creative
thinking programme”). Foreign authors have failed to produce a more exhaustive analysis
of assumptions on which relevant programmes are based or to discuss in detail the
circumstances of programme validation, or to provide the contents of definite tasks or
research procedures. Possibly, this circumstance may account for the almost absolute
absence of a comparative analysis exhaustive enough to encompass works by different
authors. This makes it difficult to compare, in greater detail, the specific qualities of the
present programme and of the ones offered by other authors.

2. „The Creativity and Self-actualisation“ Training Program

The special program of creativity in Lithuania training the creative abilities of Vilnius
Pedagogical University students (Grakauskaitė-Karkockienė, 2006) was utilised for
educational and training purposes within the framework of “Creative Psychology” subject
at a higher school, namely Vilnius Pedagogical University. This was done to make
students feel practically the effectivity of creativity training methods. We have also
attempted to determine the programme’s influence on the subjective rating of one’s own
actual and desired creativity by students. As far as we know, similar research works on the

application of creativity training programmes to the teaching of psychology is missing
both in Lithuanian and foreign sources.
The program is based on the assumptions of humanistic psychology. The human
capacity for growth is central in humanistic theory. Humanistic theories have suggested
that self–actualization and creativity are strongly related. A. Maslow, leading humanistic
psychologist, suggested that creativity and self-actualization “may turn to be the same
thing” (1971). A. H. Maslow talks about three categories: primary creativity, secondary
creativity and integrated creativity.
C. R. Rogers wrote about “man’s tendency to actualize himself, to become his
potentialities (…) the individual creates primarily because it is satisfying (…) because this
behavior is felt to be self-actualization” (1961).
Creativity according humanists is a part of being healthy human being. Human
nature is understood as a conscious, self-directed, self-actualizing, healthy process. Self-
actualization is fundamentally equivalent to the goals of education, learning environments,
and creativity, espoused by notable educators and psychologists.
The role played by a group leader is essential in programs designed to foster
creativity. The group leader did the best to promote an atmosphere of honest work and
friendly co-operation which is absolutely necessary if one seeks to make each group
member feel safe and free to join oncoming activities according to his or her abilities
without feeling tense or repressed. Lively and enthusiastic learning prevailed. The leader’s
behavior encouraged each participant to be active and outstanding. The leader offered a
chance to everyone to express his or her opinion and ideas.
„The Creativity and Self-actualisation“ Training Program was sucessfully used
seaking to devlop and sistematically stimulate the creative competencies of students
teaching the course of „Creative Psychology“.

Figure 1. Participants of „The Creativity and Self-actualisation“ Training Program in

Vilnius Pedagogical University

Figure 2. Participants of „The Creativity and Self-actualisation“ Training Program in
Educational Center for Gifted in Lithuania at summer camp

Figure 3. Participants of „The Creativity and Self-actualisation“ Training Program in

Educational Center for Gifted in Lithuania (photos from author’s selection)

3. The model of creative competencies (abilities) which were develop

• Knowledge (theories of creativity, creativity training, research)

• Cognitive abilities of creativity (divergentive thinking, metacognition,
solving of creative problems)
• Practical abilities (ability to apply different methods of creativity training)
• Ability to coolaborate with groups members Ūsharing ideas, ability to
reflect the experience in the group)
• Attitudes toward their own creativity (positive self evaluation of their own
creativity, self-motivation to reveal their own creativity in learning process as
well as in different social situations).

The methods used teaching according the program: reflection and discussion,
role playing,individual work, work in the pairs, working in small groups, different
creativity techniques.

4. Conclusions

1. Findings of the present research may be utilised by future researchers seeking to draw
up creativity training programmes or to investigate into programmes’ effectivity within
groups differing in terms of participants’ age or education. This particular programme may
be used successfully for the training of students’ creative power. The programme may be
utilised by specially trained professional psychologists in their daily working activities.
Findings of possibilities to use the program for developing creativity may contribute to the
improvement of the overall quality of studies at Lithuanian schools and universities. More
specifically, they may facilitate the renovation of methods used to impart education
contents to students, or they may help to introduce active teaching techniques for the
encouragement of independence and co-operations.
2. The effective programs are those that try influence different aspects of creativity –
cognitive, personality, attitudes, behavior, interpersonal, affect and environmental.
Creativity training, then, can be effective. Sizable effects can be observed using four major
criteria applied in evaluating training – divergent thinking, problem-solving, and attitudes-


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[6] Parnes S. J. Programs and Courses in Creativity // M. A. Runco, S. R. Pritzker. Encyclopedia of Creativity.
San Diego, Ca: Academic Press, 1999, p. 465-477.
[7] Plucker J. A., Runco M. A. Enhancement of Creativity // M. A. Runco, S. R. Pritzker. Encyclopedia of

Creativity. San Diego, Ca: Academic Press, 1999, p. 669-675.
[8] Rogers C. R. On becoming a person. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin, 1961
[9] Scott G. , Leritz L. E., Mumford M. D. The effectiveness of Creativity Training: a quantitave review.
Creativity Research Journal, 2004, Vol. 16, Issue 4, p. 327-361.

Equity in Educational Outcomes in Serbia:
Recent Findings and Expected Trend
Institute of Psychology, Faculty of Philosophy, Belgrade, Serbia

Abstract. The question of the educational equity is one of the most influential on the
educational policy. Recent international research findings estimated Serbian
educational system as comparatively equitable, but low achieving.

Keywords. Educational outcomes, equity, performace, international student



Among the issues that have has the greatest impact on the educational policy in recent
years, particulary in Europe, the question of equity occupy the prominent place. This is
visible in research evidence, as well as in discussions and decision making at the policy
level in number of European countries. Equity is seen as one of the most important
indicators of efficiency of an educational system, or even it takes precedence over the
efficiency. During the last decades, equity has been defined by the syntagm "equal
educational opportunities for all" which is, lately replaced with the view that a fair system
is one that offers equal chances of achiving educational success and, consequently, equal
qualification and equal access to better jobs [1].

1. How to Measure Equity?

In short, recent research works reported equity mainly by one of three folowing aspects: 1.
low proportion of students below the minimumm skill treshold; 2. low educational
inequalities between social groups; and 3. moderate inequalities between the most and the
least educated.
In this paper, equity is considering in its second meaninig, as a lack of
connections between socio-economic background and educational achivement. The
discussion of the equity as an outcome of Serbian educational system is based on the
research evidence collected in OECD/PISA 2003 study (Programme for International
Student Assessment). PISA study in Serbia is conducted on the representative sample o
4400 15-years-old students attending the first grade of secondary schools. The survey
covered mathematics, reading, science and problem solving literacy. Since the main focus
in 2003 were on mathematics performance, this paper refers on student achievement in

Corresponding author: Dragica Pavlović-Babić, Institute of Psychology, Faculty of
Philosophy, University of Belgrade, Čika Ljubina 18-20, Belgrade 11000, Serbia;
E-mail: dpavlovi@f.bg.ac.yu.

1.1. How Educational Achievement is Measured?

Overall mathematics performance is expressed on a scale constructed to have the average

score of 500 points and standard deviation of 100 points. In other words, it is expected to
have about two-thirds of students scoring between 400 and 600 points. Also, student
scores were grouped into six proficiency levels, where each level represented groups of
tasks of asccanending difficulty/complexity. The range of one proficiency level is about 60
points on the math performance scale.
The average performance of students from Serbia is 437 score points. It means
that a typical student in Serbia is able, after nine years of schooling, to reach Proficiency
level 2. In the words of knowledge and skills, he or she can interpret and recognize
situations in context that require no more than direct inference; extract relevant
information from a singe source; employ basic algorithms, formulae, procedures and
conventions; he or she is capable of direct reasoning and making literal interpretations of
the results [2]. In short, mathematical tasks on this level require no more than reproductive
cognitive skills. In addition, more than one quarter of students failed to reach the treshold
(they perform below Proficiency level 1), while only 2% of them are able to solve tasks
required evaluative skills (they perform on Proficiency level 5 and 6). Mean performance
scores are typically used to assess the quality of educational systems. Based on these
results, we can estimated educational system in Serbia as oriented on reproductive
knowledge and skills with tendency to unify students' achievement on a low level [3]. This
non-ambitious educational policy could provoke strengthening of so-caled "education in
shadow" which, consequently, can raise differences related to SES background.

1.2. How Socio-Economic Background is Measured?

Socio-economic status for PISA 2003 is a composite measure, derived from three variables
related to family background: 1. educational level of parents, calculated on the basis of
years of schooling, 2. occupational status of parents (data were obtained by asking students
open-ended questions), 3. educational and cultural resoureces available to students
(number of books at home, access to educational and computing facilities, books of poetry,
works of art ...), as well as household possessions (car, television set, telephones and
mobile phones...) [4]. Index of student’ socio-economic status (SES) is expressed on a
scale with average of 0 and standard deviation of 1.
Estimated on this scale, the average index of student in Serbia is negativ, and
scored -0.23. Among remaining 40 participating countries, eleven scored below Serbia on
the scale of socio-economic status. Among them, 4 countries are members of OECD.
Among all PISA students in Serbia, 18,9% has the index of SES one standard
deviation below the international average, which is qualified as higly unfavorable
background. In other words, every fifth student in Serbia is endagered by the poverty.

2. Socio-economic status of students and performance in mathematics

Correlation between SES and achievement in mathematics of Serbian students is 0,314

(which is statisticaly significant on the level 0,02). SES explains 14,1% of variance in
Serbiam student performace, which is below OECD average. According to this result, we
can estimate Serbian educational system as relatively more equitable in comparaison to

systems of other participating countries. Despite this relative success in comparaison to
other educational systems, SES remains one of the most powerfull factors influencing
performance in Serbia.
One standard deviation change in the SES index is associated with 36
mathematics score points difference, which is equivavalent to a half of one proficiency
level, or, to one school year in learning mathematics. The effect of SES on math
performance is negative: if there is no correlation between SES and math performance, the
average score points of Serbian students will be 440.
Percentage of variance expalained by SES can be considering as the index of
educational eguity (Fig. 1, Tab. 1), where the absence of correlation between performance
and SES represents a case of perfect equity. Strenght of this relationship differs across
countries. There are countries in which students tend to perform well, irrespective of their
socio-economic backround (which are Canada, Finland, Japan, Hong Kong, Iceland,
Macao). Considering the great potential impact on the educational policy, below are listed,
in short, common characteristics of the educational systems of those countries:
Recommended typefont sizes:
• Public, non-selective system of schooling;
• Inclusive schooling, including gifted students;
• Schools are able to provide appropriate and equitable opportunities for diverse
student body, including individual tuition accordant with student's capabilities
and special needs;
• Prolonged period of comprehensive education, selection of students by abilities
and/or by educational achievement on later educational levels;
• Highly qualified teachers, obligatory in-service trainings;
• Involved network of schools [5,6].

Performance below average Performance above average
% of variance explained by SES

35 SES impact above average SES impact above average






5 Performace below average Performance above average

SES imapct below average SES imapct below average
300 350 400 450 500 550 600 650 700

Performance in mathematics
Figure 1. Performance in mathematics and the impact of the socio-economic background


International researches, as well researches conducted in Serbia show that home

background influences student development on a stable and predictable way. Home
background makes a substantial contribution to student differences. Moreover, when

children enter school, the impact of SES has raised. Research of educational outcomes in
Serbia, conducted in year 1989, showed this trend [7].
What we can expect in following years, if there are no systematic and substantial
changes in the educational system?
Chronically low achievement level and discontent with educational capital
acquired in the school probably will raise the contribution of private sector in the
education. Number of private schools on all educational levels is bigger year by year. In
addition, NGO sector will offer certified trainings in different fields. The accsessibility of
education will depend on the parent' readiness to pay for. In other words, we can judge
Serbian educational system as comparatively equitable toward students with different SES
background, at the moment. By the time, it will progresivelly loose this quality, if all other
relevant educational opportunities remain the same.

This work is part of the project "Psychological Issues in the Context of Social Changes",
implemented by Institute o Psychology and financed by Ministry of Science, No 149018D


[1] D. Meuret, Equity and efficiency of compulsory schooling: is it necessary to choose and if so on what
grounds?, Prospects 140, (2006) 389-410
[2] OECD, Learning for Tomorrow's World: First Results from PISA 2003, OECD Publications, Paris, 2004.
[3] D. Pavlovic Babic, Evaluativna istrazivanja obrazovnih postignuca: konceptualne i metodoloske mogucnosti
i ogranicenja u interpretaciji rezultata (Student Assessment: conceptual and methodological possibilities
and limitations in the interpretations of results, PhD Thesis, Faculty of Philosophy, Belgrade, 2007.
[4] OECD, PISA 2003 Techical Report, OECD Publications, Paris, 2005.
[5] J. Valijarvi, P. Linnakyla, P. Kupari, P. Reinikainen and I. Arfman, The Finnish Success in PISA and Some
Reasons Behind It, Institute for Educational Research, Jyvaskyla, 2002.
[6] S. Lie, P. Lynnakyla and A. Roe, Northern Lights on PISA - Unity and Diversity in the Nordic Countries in
PISA 2000, University of Oslo, Oslo, 2003.
[7] N. Havelka et all, Efekti osnovnog skolovanja (Effects of Elemenatry Schooling), Institute of Philosophy,
Belgrade, 1990.

Training of pedagogy specialists to work
with gifted children within the Bachelor’s
and the Master’s degree levels
South-West University “Neofit Rilski” – Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria

Abstract. The paper offers:

1. A sample training model for pedagogy student how to work with gifted children
2. A sample curriculum for MA training program named “Pedagogy for gifted
children and growing-ups

Keywords. gifted children, training of pedagogy specialists, Bachelor’s and Master’s



At the beginning of the XXI century, in the conditions of market economy and the
membership of Bulgaria in the European union, the task of the development of “the golden
children of society” (cf. Plato) has quite reasonably been given a central place in the
European and in the Bulgarian educational space. The children with a high level of
intellectual development and special abilities in the field of science, art, and sports are
relied upon to become the driving forces of the overall economic, social, and spiritual life.
It is their calling to be useful not only to themselves but to society as well due to their
original thinking, their rich imagination, and their well-developed competence to research,
create, compete, solve difficult problems by searching for ingenious and optimum choices.
In connection with the establishment of the European pedagogical space and
the Euro-space for higher education Bulgarian educators are expected to do their best to
solve the topical and significant problem for the identification and development of
children with manifested talents. It is expedient that this should take place on the
basis of the European philosophy for gradual diffusion of the differences between the
educational systems of European countries, while at the same time care is taken to
preserve the specific national characteristics, priorities and identity (see 1).
In order to expect a positive result in this direction it is vital that we should
start from the preparation of teachers on that matter. This is in accordance with the
task to provide conditions for the creation of the European space for higher education
as regards the maintaining of its high quality and the achievement of the goals of the
European Council concerning the highly gifted children. (see 2 and 3)
Directive 1248 (1994) for the education of gifted children is included in the
decrees of the European Union. Its function is to give certain recommendations. It
outlines the goals (what should be achieved) and gives the member countries freedom
to establish by themselves the ways and means of achieving them. It recommends that

the programs for teacher training should include strategies for the identification of
gifted children with exceptional abilities.
In the Republic of Bulgaria the work with children and adolescents with
manifest talents is handled by the Law for the Protection of Children, the State Agency
for the protection of Children, the Decree treating the conditions and procedures for the
protection of children with outstanding gifts. Despite this voluminous documentation
and the good prerequisites, however, the problem of work with gifted children and
adolescents has not yet been solved completely in the mass practice of educators. This
is why what is necessary must be done at all levels of education.
It is quite possible that in higher schools the preparation of future teachers to
work with gifted students should comprise all educational levels – bachelor, master,
and doctor. This can be encoded in the study plans (inclusion of relevant disciplines
from the field of psychology and pedagogy), in the curricula (arranging of the study
content into specific topics treating relevant problem in both theoretical and practical
aspects), profound analysis of these topics during lectures, seminars, hands-on
experience subordinated to the problem of work with gifted children (inclusion of
discussions, problem solving, case studies, tests, pedagogical situations, variants of
interactive methods, etc.); preparation of textbooks and guidebooks focused on both the
theoretical and the practical aspects of the problem, work on projects, diploma papers,
dissertations. (see 4).
This paper suggests a system of methods for the preparation of future teachers
to identify and develop gifted children within the bachelor's level of education and
qualification. It contains two major modules:
I. Theoretical orientation module.
Here the strategy for the development of gifted children on the basis of the
humanistic approach through a subject – subjective position towards the others
and oneself is of major importance. I suggest it should comprise several interrelated
stages. (for more details cf. D. Todorina – source 4, 5, 6, 7, 8):
[2] Determining the features of giftedness, abilities and talent characterizing
gifted children.
[3] Using relevant systems of methods for work with gifted children.
[4] Applying efficient techniques and technologies for preparation and
development of gifted children.
The order of these stages is logically coherent. Before we start to work with
gifted children we should naturally diagnose their abilities, interests, and capacities. To
this end we should have a prior knowledge of their giftedness, abilities and talents.
In accordance with the stages outlined so far, I suggest that the following
organization be employed in the theoretical survey of the problem:
1. Characterization of gifted children:
• System of concepts;
• Distinctive features;
• Myths and reality concerning gifted students;
• Problems of gifted students
2. Identification of gifted children:
• Diagnosing the interests of the children;
• Methods of diagnosing;
• Systems of methods for the exploration of common
intellectual capacities;

• Systems of methods for the exploration of special
• Determining the personal profile of gifted children.
3. Strategies and technologies for efficient work with gifted children:
• Historical sources of the idea for the development of inborn
• Conditions, prerequisites, and laws of the development of
gifted children;
• Positive and negative qualities of parents and teachers in
their work with gifted children.
The theoretical problems discussed so far have already bee explored in “A
Strategy for Work with Gifted Children” (D. Todorina, source 2).
II. Practical preparation module.
In this module the establishment of students’ competence is accomplished for
identification and development of children and adolescents with outstanding gifts. It is
carried out in the form of a training (group and individual) which provides conditions
for the self-perfection and development of future teachers.
Three cycles are envisaged, with 5 stages each, which correspond in terms of
their goals, content and objectives with the theoretical survey of the problem. Diverse
interactive methods of study are used, as well as combinations of frontal, group, and
individual forms of education. Different solutions to problems are offered and a
number of guided games, case studies, and tests are advanced. Varied inventories are
created to be employed in the practice of education – questionnaires, adjustable
individual programs, strategies and technologies, projects. The training are diversified,
with varying complexity, they are also adjustable and give an opportunity for the
inclusion of students in both imaginary and real situations from the practice of
education. They allow for activities with partially or wholly exploration character.
The training program generally includes the following:
Cycle 1. Characterization of gifted children.
First meeting: Introduction to the program for the seminars (the training) –
goals, objectives, methods, forms and means of teaching.
Second meeting: Distinctive features and problems of gifted students (group
training)- problems, objectives, test, etc.
Third meeting: Myths and reality concerning the gifted children (group
training) – problems and objectives, case study, test, etc.
Fourth meeting: How to recognize gifted children? (individual training) –
problems and objectives, case studies, a test for self-control and self-esteem.
Cycle 2. Identification of gifted children
First meeting: Diagnosing the interests of the children (group training) –
problems and objectives, versions of a questionnaire.
Second meeting: A survey of the common intellectual capacities (group
training) – problems, objectives, versions of a questionnaire.
Third meeting: Survey of the special capacities (group training) – problems,
objectives, versions of a questionnaire.
Fourth meeting: Determining the personal profile of the gifted student
(individual training) – problems, objectives, inventory for determining the personal

Fifth meeting: Self-control and self-evaluation of the competence for using the systems
of methods for the identification of gifted students – a test for self-control and self-
Cycle 3. Strategies and technologies for work with gifted children (in class
and in extra curricular activities)
First meeting: Conditions, prerequisites and laws for the development of
gifted students (group training) – problems, objectives, case study, test, etc.
Second meeting: Bearings, techniques and procedures for efficient creative
activities (group training) – problems, objectives, guided games, versions of individual
programs for gifted students.
Third meeting: Technologies for the development of gifted students in class
and during extra curricular activities (group training) – problems, objectives, case
study, projects for term and diploma papers.
Fourth meeting: How should I behave while working with gifted students and
what are the mistakes I should not make? (individual training) - problems, objectives,
case study, projects for term and diploma papers.
Fifth meeting: Self-control and self-evaluation of the competence for the use of
strategies and technologies for the development of gifted students – a test for self-
control and self-evaluation. (for more details concerning module II see D. Todorina –
source 9 ). The system of methods presented here has been tested with the students in a
number of education departments in South-West University “Neofit Rilski” - in the
Faculty of Education and the Faculty of Arts. The results are encouraging, which shows
its efficiency and expedience.
Elements fro this system of methods are being used in the student problem
team for the identification and development of children's talents (team leader – D.
Todorina). The team already enjoy their first success in the carrying out of their own
surveys and the creation of inventory for work with gifted students as well as their
participation in a TV program, a scientific forum in the Department of Pedagogy at the
Faculty of Pedagogy. They have also contributed to a students collection of scientific
articles, etc. The tendency is that the students' projects should enhance into diploma
projects so that they can be realistically tested in the practice of education.
The system of methods for the preparation of future teachers to work with
gifted students presented here is an attempt to achieve a higher level of teacher
preparation who will be able to appreciate and develop “the golden children of
society”. They should be worthy of the opportunity for the implementation of the
idea for the awarding of an international higher education diploma of Pedagogy of
gifted students.
I have developed a Master's degree program for diagnosing and
development of children and adolescents with outstanding talents. This contribute
to the quality of teachers' preparation as regards this important problem and it also
guarantee a high quality research and rational practical solutions in the search for
optimum strategies and technologies for the development of the creative potential of
the nation.
The students who graduate the MA programme, have acquired competence to
create and apply methods and techniques/technologies for diagnostics and education of
students and gifted students to be used in and out of the classroom, in curriculum and
extra curriculum activities in the fields of science, arts, sports, technology, etc. Those
can also be used in developing individual educational curricula and space for gifted
students in order to enhance their skills and in the psychological-and-pedagogical

consulting of gifted children and their parents about diagnostics, enhancement of skills
and choice of career. The programme allows the development of a number of socially
sufficient personal characteristics in MA students, based on of the changed function of
the teacher - from an information source to a facilitator and mediator, which are
essential for their future work with students.
The creation of a Center for the diagnosing and development of children
and adolescents with outstanding talents in the higher schools would complement
the idea of the preparation and development of gifted children and would also be of
help to their parents and teachers.
Hopefully the collaboration of all institutions and educators of all levels will
promote the development and self assertion of the individuals gifted by nature,
giving them a chance to be useful both to themselves and to society as a whole. The
impending establishment of a National strategy for the Development of Children and
Adolescents with Outstanding Talents within the Department of Education and Culture
will be a guarantee of the successful accomplishment of this task.


[1] Тодорина, Д. Проблемът за развитието на надарените ученици в европейското педагогическо

пространство. В. сб. “Културните права в европейска перспектива”, Благоевград, 2005.
[2] Тодорина, Д. Стратегия за развитие на надарените ученици. Благоевград, 2001.
[3] Тодорина, Д. Улогата и квалитетите на наставниците и родителите во процесот на работа со
надарените ученици. В “Педагошка практика”, година 1, бр.1.,Скопjе, 2002.
[4] Тодорина, Д. Подготовка на студентите педагози за идентификация и развитие на надарените
ученици в условията на новите реалности. В “Педагогическата наука и новите реалности”,
Благоевград, 2002.
[5] Тодорина, Д. Организация на учебната среда за деца със специални образователни потребности
(със задръжки и надарени) .В Мениджмънт на класа от Д. Тодорина, София, 2004.
[6] Todorina, D. Strategies for development of the “Golden children of the society” in the European
Pedagogical space, In “The Educational Heritage and Dialogue in the European Pedagogical space”,
Blagoevgrad, 2004.
[7] Gramatikov, P., Todorina, D., Gramatikova, M. Bulgarian Education’s Reform and Strategy for
Diagnostics of Gifted Children, In “Science Education: Models and Networking of Students Research
Training under 21”, IOS Press-Amsterdam, Netherlands, 2007.
[8] Тодорина, Д. Съвременни измерения на проблема за работа с децата и подрастващите с изявени
дарби. – “Педагогика”, 2006, бр.12.
[9] Тодорина, Д. Програма за тренинг на бъдещите учители за работа с надарените ученици. В
“Общество на знанието и образование за всички”, София, 2003.

Developing students’ creative processes in
extracurricular activities by the means of
Southwest University “N.Rilski”, Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria


Better quality of education can be provided not only by school education and learning, but
also by other activities involving the students, at any time of their daily life – both at
school and away from it.
The main emphasis of today’s school daily life falls primarily on learning, while
the educative activities tend to enjoy much less attention. This tendency is often justified
by the opinion that learning activities are naturally charged by an inherent educative
For the past decade, no major progress has been made in Bulgaria in studying issues
related to extramural and extracurricular activities in the context of their potential
educational effects and opportunities for development. Even less attention has been paid to
the psychological aspect of children’s involvement in such activities, their effect towards
facilitating development of the basic mental processes, qualities and characteristics of the
personality. Furthermore, this issue has been beyond the vision of was not within the scope
of administrators in the educational system.
In fact, the students’ entertainment and leisure time is rationalized by the
broad diversity of activities, which ensure meeting children’s needs of relaxation, of
positive and memorable emotional experiences. Such activities release children’s sense
of beauty towards nature and social environment, children are able to grasp the daily
routine rhythm and gain insight of not only the associated duties and responsibilities,
but also of the taste for relax, pleasure, pleasant excitement. The daily routine of
children is infested by romance, adventures, delight, positive perspective, where this
positive perspective may later on be transformed into a main goal, motivation, ideal.
This gives a unique opportunity for rationalizing the students’ entertainment
occupations in line with certain pedagogical objectives, filling these occupations with
rich content in a direction of introducing the children to the wealth, cultural traditions
and accomplishments of the nation and of the mankind.
One may reasonably conclude that adequately organized extracurricular and
extramural activity play an important role in the system of activities which influence
the development and education of the human personality. Deliberate neglect of this
activity divests and deprives the children of the entire wealth of positive emotional
experiences and diverse opportunities for enriching their interests, for productive and
pedagogically effective education and development during children’s free time.
We must emphasize that the way children spend their free time is to great
extent a determinant of both the level of their culture and their aspirations to meet their
own needs. It is perfectly possible for the pedagogues to satiate their students’ free

time with activities which are chosen by the children on voluntarily basis and
spontaneously, in line with their personal interests under the educator’s guidance.
Children need to take part in various activities that are both relaxing and enthral to the
children, activities that engage them in exciting experiences and develop the features of
their characters.
Extracurricular activity increasingly tends to gain more significance in mental
development. Usually, this activity comprises a definite intellectual guidance which is
close to the children’s interest and is charged with positive emotions, at that requiring
the strength of will. It is preferred by those students who are gladly taking part in
various study circles, courses, studios, competitions, olympiads, tournaments, etc.
The share of computer and electronic games tends to grow among the
occupations in which the students are involved nowadays, along with their learning
activities. Games contribute to the development of children’s mental qualities, provoke
their alertness, dexterity and resourcefulness, their strive for victory, but also stimulate the
sharpness of their minds, concentration of attention. The games enable children to build
skills which are often required in numerous life situations other than school learning and
playing games.
Our survey was committed to identify, within the enormous gaming diversity
available on the Internet, games which on one hand are in line with the need for
interesting experiences and at the same time contribute to development of the cognitive
processes. Also, the study was aimed at surveying students’ own opinion about their
gaming activities.
We have interviewed a total of 114 students within the age group limits between
grade V to grade IX from the towns of Sofia and Blagoevgrad.
Almost all respondents (97.5%) claim that they have unrestricted access to computer
games and that they play such games primarily at home (51.33%) or in computer clubs
(62.83%). Nearly half of the respondents (40.71%) emphasize that they can play whenever
they wish, no matter the time, on a daily basis.
The most preferable electronic games are mainly action games (69.03%) and
adventure games (38.94%). Respectively, these kinds of games comprise the major part of
available choices – both on the market and in the computer clubs. Only 8.85% of the
respondents have stated that they play also educational games. Significant portion of the
boys (54.87%) prefers to play sports games. The main sources of information on how to
get and exchange new games appear to be the classmates and friends. Respondents rank
parents and teachers at the bottom of the list of methods/persons quoted as information
sources. One fifth of the respondents state that they find the desired Internet games
themselves on the web. This comes as a proof to both a higher level of information culture,
when browsing through the global net and also to the students’ grown self-esteem in terms
of ability to handle the information flows.
In responding to the question “How do your parents see your preoccupation
with computer games?” 40.71% of the interviewees claim that their parents approve
(mainly the female respondents from the lower school grades). 34.51% of the
respondents state that their families worry “because this may disturb the quality of my
preparation for school”. The attitude of some parents is also well grounded, where
16.81% of them state that they “have no interest or knowledge of the kind of games
played by their children in their free time”.
Particularly worrying is the finding that the teachers – no matter whether class
teachers or subject teachers, do not play any role in students’ activities of the kind. The
question: “Are there any teachers who advise you on which games it is preferable to

play” is negatively answered by 87.61% of the students. Just 12.39% of the
interviewees have stated that they are supported and advised by some of their teachers.
Even the most generalized overview of the collected data confirms our thesis
that, regardless of the indisputable educative and creative nature of young people’s
extracurricular activities, they remain beyond the pedagogues’ attention.
In answering the question “What to do” we would like to propose to the school
authorities to work towards establishing and operating a Computer club. Such a Club
can be set up either on school premises, at the Centre for work with children, or in any
other educative establishment of similar nature.
The Club is a modern form of extracurricular activity with considerable
educative potential. Broader use and further strengthening of this extracurricular form,
however, depends to a great extent on the pedagogues and adults assisting the children
in their choice of preferred free-time occupations. The proposed Computer Club may
turn into a focal point of satisfying young people’s needs of amusements, attractive
activities and up-to-date computer applications as means of communication. The Club
form, as a variation of leisure time activity, has certain specific features – regularity of
visits, relatively permanent membership of individuals with common interests, topic
related initiatives, participation into entertaining, competitive and educative events. In
addition to that, all clubbing activities are voluntary choice of the participants and are
coordinated among them on the basis of mutual understanding. Clubbing could be
implemented on a temporary basis, either during the school year or on permanent basis,
with greater intensity during the school holidays.
These conditions for clubbing are a good prerequisite for developing a number
of personal qualities and gaining valuable practice-related skills. In the spontaneous
playing environment, children improve their concentration, develop the performance of
memory, thinking processes and imagination, they show creativity.
It is advisable, both from pedagogical and psychological perspective, to take
advantage of children’s inherent interest and zeal in such computer games with the aim
of developing mental and moral qualities of the child’s personality, strengthening the
mental processes and features of the individual. In our opining, there are two possible
ways – either to develop projects (scenarios) for new games design adapted to specific
educative and psychological requirements, or to try and identify, among the existing
games, the ones that correspond to our educative objectives and make sure the children
increasingly play those games.
In this particular study we chose the second option.
Internet resources are extensive in terms of gaming varieties among which
there are games with specific educational focuses. However, it is important to make
careful selection of the plots and provide appropriate advice and guidelines to the
gamers’ choice while making the selection and finding their way through this
enormous diversity. We have selected a set of gaming activities that meet the
requirements mentioned above. The compact disk with such game selection is available
to the audience as an attachment hereto. So far a lot of teachers, headmasters and even
parents have already shown interest and have made their own copies of the CD. Yet,
this is far behind the idea of exhausting the wealth of the Internet-based resources but
in any case, it could be used as a starting point for the school staff and public
authorities for possible follow-up actions.
Of major importance in securing effectiveness of the Computer Club activities
is the role of the pedagogue-organizer at the Club. If this person has to fulfil
effectively his/her educative functions as children’s partner in their gaming

occupations, at the same time being their advisor and assistant, this individual has to
be equipped with appropriate attitude and suitable professional competence. Therefore,
the most important aspects of this role shall be to make sure that:
• thematically, the clubbing activities are adequate to the new realities in education
and to the potential of the modern educational and information-based
environment, where the main aim is to improve the skills of the pedagogues-
organizers to the further development of children’s talents, gifts, interests,
inquisitiveness and expansion of their creative abilities;
• the choice of gaming entertainments is made with the children’s active
involvement, whereas the pedagogue-organizer’s role will be to proficiently
advise them on the forms and initiatives that develop their mental processes,
individual abilities and are in line with the basic educational objectives;
• the pedagogue should never try to press directly his/her views. This person
should take into account the conditions predetermining the participants’ activities
in their free time, make sure that these activities are implemented in an
atmosphere in emotionally positive environment, and strive to nurture the
students’ need of exciting and intense experiences.
• enrich and expand students’ intense interests in games by telling them interesting
stories related to the game’s plot, achievements of game’s designers; encourage
the club members to develop their own game scenarios, improve their abilities
associated with computer skills, guide them towards the wealth of information
resources available on the Internet, facilitate their abilities to surf and find their
own way within the information they need for entertainment purposes, but also
strengthen their personal qualities; help children in getting the right vocational
guidance in a particular area according to the child’s individual talents and skills
already demonstrated or to be developed in the future.
In order for our children to be able to learn and develop while playing, it is
necessary that the school finds forms to attract their parents as well in attaining this
goal. One of the possible means is to publish Reference books or Guide Books for
children or parents in the area of electronics and computer games; to issue, either at
school or at the respective extracurricular educative establishment/centre, bulletin
boards or other suitable dissemination media with recent news from the IT world, make
presentations of appropriate games, inform about future competitions and other
initiatives at different levels: district, regional, national, international.
Considering the vast Internet potential, it is advisable to establish a Discussion
forum or any other clubbing form of entertainment, where students, teachers and other
interested parties can exchange information through the global network with
representatives of other countries, take advantage of best practices and achievements of
training and educational establishments located in different parts of the world. This
could become a wonderful opportunity for our students to get involved in international
competitions on the World wide web, virtual travel adventures, project design or
studies on specific topics, participate in global initiatives for environment conservation,
struggle against violence and cruelty, integration of cultures and people with problems,
Implementing various initiatives within the virtual Internet environment,
getting familiar with new kinds of games and other entertainment forms applied by the
students in their free time, using multimedia means provided by the sophisticated
modern IT services, have proved to be unique tools with large potential applications in
the process of student’s learning and self-preparation. Another benefit is that they tend

to be a prerequisite for improving the effectiveness of training and education as an
ongoing and continuously refreshing process.


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Author index

Michael S. ARVANITIS 117 Joanna LILPOP 83

Sokol AXHEMI 121 Gaëll MAINGUY 87
Ravinder BHATIA 87 Vigor MAJIĆ 3
Csaba BÖDE 105 Steven MANSOUR 87
Volker BRANDT 45 Daniel MIETCHEN 87
Florian COLCEAG 129 Tamara MILOŠEVIĆ 57
Peggy CONNOLLY 133 Eva-Maria NEHER 93
Edward W. CROWE 9 Martina PALKOVÁ 109
Muli DOTAN 25 Zvi PALTIEL 99
Doron EDELDING 25 Paolo PLEVANI 73
Shimon GEPSTEIN 25 Henry ROMAN 87
Peter GILBERT 19 Charlotte SCHULZE 19
Cinzia GRAZIOLI 73 Dobrinka TODORINA 155
Joan J. GUINOVART 67 Lilyana TODOROVA 161
Boryana IVANOVA 161 Giovanna VIALE 73
Revital JALLIF 25 Eva VONDRÁKOVÁ 109
Rehana JAUHANGEER 87 Harald WAGNER 45
Ayelet KOPER 25 Manuela WELZEL 19
Zora KRNJAIĆ 35 Thomas WENDT 19
Martin KUBALA 79