In a high-tech and rapidly globalising economy, science and mathematics education is more important than ever for Europe. At the same time, high levels of creativity and innovation, often and mistakenly seen as the antitheses of science and mathematics, represent equally important assets.
Maximising the potential in all of these areas - science, mathematics, creativity and innovation - must be a priority for Europe if it is to continue to compete in the 21st century.
Undoubtedly, as most people would agree, the place to start is in early childhood education. But programmes and curricula for promoting excellence in these crucial areas in early education vary widely across Europe, as do their impact.
The EU-funded project CREATIVELITTLESCIENT ('Creative Little Scientists: Enabling Creativity through Science and Mathematics in Preschool and First Years of Primary Education') aims at providing a clearer picture of existing and potential educational practices in science, mathematics and creativity.
The project, led by Greece's Ellinogermaniki Agogi, spans nine European countries: Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Malta, Portugal, Romania, and the UK. The countries were selected to represent a wide spectrum of educational, economic, social and cultural contexts.
The project's consortium brought together experts in early childhood science and mathematics education, creativity in education, cognitive psychology, comparative educational studies and teacher training.
The project will provide an in-depth analysis of relevant common and novel educational policies and practices across the continent and look at implications, opportunities and challenges. The researchers will propose guidelines, curricula and pedagogic materials for teacher education in the various European contexts.
A vital element for this project will be the dissemination phase. Findings will be distributed to a wide number of European education stakeholders and decision makers. The dissemination activities will culminate in the project's final conference in March 2014.
CREATIVELITTLESCIENT received EUR 1.5 million in EU funding and runs until March 2014.
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More information: CREATIVELITTLESCIENT www.creative-little-scientists.eu