STEAM-CAMP: Leadership Training Programme for Teachers
Today’s students in Ukraine are losing interest in science, and their academic performance is deteriorating significantly. Around 30% of school graduates in Mariupol, Zaporizhia and Kryvyi Rih choose the hard sciences – such as mathematics, physics or chemistry – for their external independent testing at school (known as the EIT). After school graduation, most of young people prefer soft sciences: foreign languages, geography or Ukrainian history. Only 6-8% of them get the test scores that allow to compete for admission to higher educational institutions to study a technical specialisation.
According to the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), Ukrainian students lag behind their peers from developed OECD countries by almost a year of study, and their results are on average 100 points lower as compared to Singapore or China mates. Moreover, Ukrainian students have most of their knowledge gaps in mathematics. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, when schools moved online, teaching hard sciences became even more difficult, which exposed a critical need for modern approaches to learning. The industrial region of Ukraine, particularly, the cities of Mariupol, Zaporizhia and Kryvyi Rih are in need of technical specialists and experts, including steel making professionals, while Metinvest’s assets need talented young people.
Metinvest systematically implements social partnership programmes in the cities where it operates including those aimed at education development. Since its establishment, the company has invested over UAH 180 million in educational projects and implementation of innovative solutions in education.
STEAM-CAMP is a leadership training programme for teachers of hard sciences such as mathematics, physics, chemistry and computer science in three industrial cities of Ukraine, where Metinvest’s key assets are located: Mariupol, Kryvyi Rih, and Zaporizhia. The main purpose of the project is to improve the quality of STEAM education in schools, get children interested in learning sciences and equip teachers with skills and innovative methods of teaching that would help them to enhance the knowledge of the graduates who choose STEAM disciplines for their EIT: physics, chemistry, and mathematics.
STEAM-CAMP is a broad partnership project supported by Metinvest and implemented by local non-government organisations – Mariupol Development Fund, Zaporizhzhia.Joint Action Platform, Kryvyi Rih Foundation for Future in cooperation with three municipalities of Mariupol, Kryvyi Rih and Zaporizhia and three universities – Mariupol State University and Zaporizhia State University and State University of Economics and Technology in Kryvyi Rih, as well as the Epoch of International Education training centre, Association of Young Workers of Ukraine, and STEM IS FEM education initiative.
The STEAM-CAMP was implemented in three stages:
Situation monitoring and participant selection
The selection of participants was carried out from December 10 to February 15. The participants filled in the questionnaire (to check whether the basic criteria are met), wrote a motivation essay, and passed an interactive video test to allow assessment of their soft skills and identify strengths and skills that can be improved. As the outcome of the stage, more than 500 most motivated teachers of hard sciences of general secondary and vocational educational institutions who had successfully passed the selection stage became participants of the project in three cities: Mariupol, Kryvyi Rih and Zaporizhzhia.
Holding of modules and inter-module support
In February-June 2021, 5 three-day thematic modules for the development of soft skills were held for 500 selected teachers of physics, chemistry, mathematics, and computer science: leadership potential, adoption of new technologies in education, digital tools at school, effective communication of the lead teacher, new thinking in education, and information handling.
The training process involved about 50 best speakers and mentors of national level, including professors and PhD from country’s state universities and experts with hands-on experience in education sharing their best practices and teaching the new tools and skills that the school of the future will need.
The participants were offered inter-module mentoring and support throughout programme implementation due to the engagement of the Association of Youth Employees of Ukraine.
During the project period, teachers worked in teams to develop sets of integrated lessons with guidance counseling elements on various subjects: “STEM around us”, “STEM in science”, “STEM in my city”, “Atlas of STEM professions”, “STEM in space”, “STEM in tourism”, “STEM hobby”, “STEM travels”, “STEM in art”, “STEM security”, etc. The developments were assessed by experts, speakers and mentors of the programme by a number of preliminary defined criteria.
Summing up and incentive component
The results were summed up in a synchronized manner in three cities: Mariupol, Zaporizhzhia and Kryvyi Rih. During the event, 22 teams of teachers presented their know-how by using the approaches and tools mastered during training courses.
The presentations were assessed by a jury consisting of educators of city councils, employers’ representatives, higher educational institutions’ representatives, programme speakers.
The winning team in each city was selected following the assessment of the developed integrated lessons and presentations on STEM-related subjects by teams of teachers.
The STEAM-CAMP programme also includes an incentive component for participants: bonuses for teachers per each student who passed the EIT in mathematics, physics or chemistry with high grades and were enrolled majoring in technical subjects in their home cities – relevant majors of Metinvest Group.
In the final of the STEAM-CAMP programme, teachers were congratulated by representatives of the embassies of Denmark, Germany, France, and the UK, the EU Delegation to Ukraine, the Chief of the UN Office in Ukraine, the UN Women Office in Ukraine and the OSCE Office in Mariupol.
In addition, as part of the project, in cooperation with the STEM is FEM educational initiative supported by UN Women and UNICEF, with the participation of 7 international organisations, “She is Science” exhibitions were opened in the three cities to promote science among young people and specifically girls.
Metinvest funded the programme and participated in its implementation from beginning to end. Being interested in preparing highly skilled talents its assets, the company’s specialists:
– participated in the landscape analysis for project design and concept creation;
– monitored the programme implementation;
– coordinated introduction of professional orientation elements in the course;
– organised the visits of programme participants to Metinvest’s assets;
– were members of jury for evaluation of teachers’ presentations;
– Management of Metinvest’s assets participated in the STEAM-CAMP opening and closing ceremonies in order to explain why the project is so important for the steel company.
The difficulty in organising the project was to synchronize the actions and programmes at the interregional level adapting to local special features and differences. However, this difficulty was overcome due to successfully selected local partner organisations, ongoing coordination of the project implementation and adaptability of teams at the local level.
“The programme helps to address several social issues at once. Children from the three largest industrial cities of Ukraine will have the opportunity to improve their knowledge of hard sciences negatively affected by quarantine and online learning. We motivate both students and teachers. Students will have more chances to enter higher educational institutions, get an in-demand profession and stay to build a career in their home cities. Teachers will be proud to have educated future inventors and technical geniuses.”
Diana Sidko, Project Coordinator, Line Manager of Regional Development Department at Metinvest
STEAM-CAMP is a unique project in Ukraine because of its scale and unprecedented impact on the educational sphere. As a result of the project, 500 STEAM teachers participating in the programme tried and implemented over 30 new digital tools in the learning process, developed over 450 lessons integrating professional orientation elements that laid down the foundation of a great partnership platform for STEAM teachers to share their experience and develop leadership skills. As the new school year begins, over 5,000 students in over 200 schools in Mariupol, Kryvyi Rih and Zaporizhia will benefit from new tools and proprietary methods in their learning process.
The project also gave an opportunity to establish a community of proactive teachers and helps reduce the outflow of young people and employees from the industrial region of Ukraine.
Half of the teachers participating in the project, i.e. 250 people, taught hard subjects in the final 11th grade.
According to the review of the EIT results in three subjects and the university admissions process:
in 2021, 13% more graduates in the three cities passed the external examinations in mathematics, physics, chemistry with the points required for admission majoring in technical subjects (160–180 points): 2,519 graduates in 2021 compared to 2,235 in 2020;
the total number of prospective students in the three cities increased by 11% compared to 2020;
the total number of prospective students of relevant majors of Metinvest in the three cities increased by 17%;
the interest of students in the hard sciences has increased, as evidenced by the positive dynamics of EIT in mathematics in quantitative and qualitative terms in all three cities, and in physics in Zaporizhzhia;
the average points of EIT of first-year students of relevant majors are generally higher in three cities compared to 2020, indicating an increased level of proficiency of prospective students.
The project has helped to increase students’ interest in the hard sciences and actually will increase the number of young people who are going to devote their lives to the technical subject areas. A special feature of the project is that its impact on the quality of teaching of the hard subjects and on academic performance can be observed over the years, as teachers have integrated new approaches, methods and tools in teaching the hard subjects in different classes, and share their experience and skills with their colleagues.
STEAM-CAMP project contributes to the development of the region and the entire country. It aims to improve the quality of teaching hard sciences and it, therefore, covers one of the most important social aspects of life – quality education, which will help be competitive in the labour market in the future.
Driving a programme like this is very important for the sustainable development of the cities where Metinvest’s assets operate. For Metinvest as a metals and mining company, this project is expected to help secure highly skilled talents and technical specialists in the future. At the same time, STEAM-CAMP is a project of large partnership with local communities and a number of national and international stakeholders that helps improve relationships with the above.