Much analysis has been carried out on the importance of science education both in schools and in higher education. However, science education outside the classroom, which refers to informal science education, and the science education effects of non-educational activities, are not well explored in their nature and effects. Acquiring knowledge, and in particular, evaluating knowledge, often with the help of the Internet, is what is frequently happening in reality, and should be recognised for what it contributes in terms of more sophisticated consumers and scientific citizenship. Consideration on what is available and what is being learnt would be useful to understand how science education outside the classroom influences today's citizens.
The available knowledge on science education outside the classroom and its impact on citizens need to be analysed, taking into account possible gender and geographical differences and the analysis including socio-economically disadvantaged groups. The analysis include socio-economically disadvantaged groups. The proposed action shall specify if this type of learning complements the classroom or succeeds where the classroom might have failed. Consideration shall be given to the impact that can be achieved by science education outside schools and how this form of informal schooling might be accredited and whether there is a way of assessing the quality of the educational contents.
To address this specific challenge, proposals should have a wide geographical coverage. It is therefore expected that consortia would include at least entities from 10 different Member States or Associated Countries, although smaller consortia will also be eligible and may be selected.
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of the order of EUR 3 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.
This action allows for the provision of financial support to third parties in line with the conditions set out in Part K of the General Annexes.
In the short term, the proposed action will identify good practices in terms of science education outside the classroom and consider the impact this information has on formal and informal science education for students and citizens. In the medium term, the results of the present action will help the EU to better understand the effects of science education outside the regular education institutions and will increase the range of innovative products in science education that reflect societal needs. In the long term the results of the research should contribute to considerations on accrediting the available information.