Select Committee on Science and Technology Written Evidence

Annex 1


  To date, the Group is constituted of the following members:

    Armagh Planetarium (NORTHERN IRELAND)

    Association for Science Education (ASE)

    British National Space Centre Partnership (BNSC)

    Careers Scotland (SCOTLAND)

    Department for Education and Skills (DfES)

    EADS Astrium

    Ecsite UK

    European Space Agency (ESA)


    National Academy for Gifted and talented Youth (NAGTY)

    National Science Learning Centre

    Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC)


    Space Education Council

    Yorkshire Forward/Space Connections

  The group met in September and November 2006. The next meeting is scheduled for late March 2006 at the occasion of the conclusion of the consultative/study phase.


  Europe faces a severe decrease in the interest of young people in, Science, Engineering and Technology (SET) subjects as well as a decline in the uptake of SET careers. This general disinterest in SET subjects and careers amongst young Europeans, in particular young women, is more evident in the classical SET disciplines in school and university subjects, such as mathematics, physics and chemistry, than in emerging fields such as Information and Communications Technology (ICT) or applied science. Combined with an overall ageing scientific population in the European SET workforce, this decrease of young people in SET related subjects and careers could have serious consequences. These shortages will not only affect the future tertiary education systems in Europe, but more importantly the SET related industries and their employment markets.

  Although education was included from the outset as one of ESA's basic activities in the ESA Convention, it is only in the last few years that a dedicated education effort has been undertaken both at corporate level and within the directorates. As of 2005, an education policy and a new dedicated operational structure has been set up, aimed at a joint effort between the Education Department and directorates. Among others, the European Space Education Resource Office (ESERO) project of particular interest in this note is, together with a wide range of hands-on activities for university students, part of an ambitious programme.


The concept

  Reaching our primary target audience directly, ie millions of students or professors/teachers, is an unworkable task for ESA. In addition, not mentioning the various languages, the educational systems are very different from one Member State to another. Therefore, in order to implement with efficiency its education policy, the Agency ideally had to opt for a "Member State by Member State approach".

  The objective of the ESERO project is to establish in all ESA Member States "ESERO contact points" (an ESA contractor—preferably located at already existing educational facilities) manned by an education expert well integrated into the national educational system and networks.

  This should allow the ESA Education Department to support, through the "ESERO contact point", the specific educational needs of the Member States and to get easy access to the already-existing national networks (publishers, museums, teachers' associations, etc).

  In conclusion, The ESERO project is aiming at the development of close relations with national education stakeholders and the participation in education activities tailored to the specific situation in each Member State.


  In order to maximise the chances of success, it was decided—with the full support of the concerned delegations—to first start the implementation of the project with three "ESERO contact points"; namely in Belgium, The Netherlands and Spain.

  Besides a planning of regular reviews, an overall evaluation of the pilot projects is planned at the end of 2007 and a decision to further expand towards other Member states will then be taken. If positive, at least one "ESERO contact point" per Member State will progressively be installed by 2010 at the latest.

  The implementation of the pilot phase is scheduled over a period of two years, articulated in four stages. Namely: a preparatory phase (three months) aiming at the setting up of the "ESERO contact point"; the study phase (six months) to identify the stakeholders, networks, needs, ...of the education community; the strategy definition (three months) and finally the operational phase (12 months).

  The "ESERO contact point" in the Netherlands is located at NEMO, the National Centre for Science and Technology, in Amsterdam. It was officially inaugurated in April 2006. As part of the contract, a consolidated study report has demonstrated the need of such a location that can act, while answering the needs of the education community, as a "one-stop-shop" for the development, promotion and distribution of educational space related materials.

  The "ESERO contact point" in Spain is located at the science centre "La CosmoCaixa" in Barcelona; whilst the one for Belgium is situated at the Planetarium in Brussels. The inauguration of both offices is planned for the first quarter of 2007.

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