EDU-ARCTIC competitions as an effective way to increase student's interest in STEM
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Competitions combined with field trips organised for students and teachers break the common format of teaching and learning in which knowledge is transferred in traditional way at the premises of schools. Science trips are innovative methods of making the learning processes more attractive and appealing. Moreover, competitions for students may stimulate students’ creativity and help to increase their inventiveness. An educational initiative proposing contest for students combined with attractive prizes of polar expeditions is EDU-ARCTIC. EDU-ARCTIC is a Pan-European initiative available for secondary schools, which uses the Arctic and polar research as a vehicle to encourage pupils aged 13 to 20 to pursue further education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), setting them on a path to careers in one of these sectors, or even to become a scientist. Students participating in the project have a unique possibility to get to know what scientific careers are like and to learn more about different research disciplines while learning how to apply the scientific method. It aims to establish strong links between the research and education communities by connecting schools to scientists working in various places of the world. The EDU-ARCTIC project uses a mix of different tools for teaching STEM, including online lessons with scientists dealing with polar research, environmental monitoring program, and Arctic Competitions with a chance for students to win a trip to an Arctic research station. In this paper we present information on organisation of the EDU-ARCTIC Competitions, winning projects from three editions and evaluation studies on the contest’s impact on participating students. We also demonstrate how the EDU-ARCTIC contest and polar expeditions are related to one of empirically verified models of effective teaching (so-called PERMA).