Introduction

Introduction

The main focus for the 2014 Icelandic presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers in the field of education and research was the Biophilia Educational Project.

The Icelandic Ministry of Education, Science & Culture sought collaboration with the other Nordic countries, as well as Åland, Faroe Islands and Greenland, to further develop the project, which was originally started by the artist Björk, the City of Reykjavík and the University of Iceland in 2011.

The main focus for the 2014 Icelandic presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers in the field of education and research was the Biophilia Educational Project.

The Icelandic Ministry of Education, Science & Culture sought collaboration with the other Nordic countries, as well as Åland, Faroe Islands and Greenland, to further develop the project, which was originally started by the artist Björk, the City of Reykjavík and the University of Iceland in 2011.

The Nordic Knowledge Train was a side project to Biophilia; a science communication outreach project, led by the University of Iceland in collaboration with the Faroe Islands, Finland, Norway and Sweden.

Although different in many ways, the Nordic countries share some of the same challenges in their primary education systems. The lack of skills within natural sciences, challenges with cross-disciplinary teaching and lowered levels of student motivation to name a few. The Biophilia Educational Project addressed these issues in the aims of the project

The Nordic Knowledge Train was a side project to Biophilia; a science communication outreach project, led by the University of Iceland in collaboration with the Faroe Islands, Finland, Norway and Sweden.

Although different in many ways, the Nordic countries share some of the same challenges in their primary education systems. The lack of skills within natural sciences, challenges with cross-disciplinary teaching and lowered levels of student motivation to name a few. The Biophilia Educational Project addressed these issues in the aims of the project.

The main aims of the Nordic collaboration.
  • promote innovation in schools through the development of educational methods which combine natural sciences, creativity, and technology
  • break up traditional teaching practices through a cross-disciplinary approach, across all ages, subjects, and disciplines
  • set up a Nordic collaborative network that would share experiences, ideas and further develop the project based on common Nordic values
  • encourage young people’s interest in creativity, natural sciences and technology, and thus progressively increase the competitiveness of the Nordic countries

Project Description

Project Description

In 2011 Björk released Biophilia, a multi-media project comprising a studio album and an app album for iPad and android.

The app album was the first of its kind, a fully interactive app to accompany the album, where each song is represented by its own touchscreen app.

In 2011 Björk released Biophilia, a multi-media project comprising a studio album and an app album for iPad and android.
The app album was the first of its kind, a fully interactive app to accompany the album, where each song is represented by its own touchscreen app.

Each app takes one key feature of music theory (chords, scales, counterpoint etc.) and pairs it with a scientific phenomenon. The Biophilia Educational Project was built on Björk´s aforementioned app through the participation of academics, scientists, artists, teachers, and students. It was an extensive project with all five countries participating, plus Åland, Faroes and Greenland, and around 69 schools, youth centres and preschools, 154 teachers and 2778 students (see table below).

The project aimed to inspire children to explore their own creativity and to learn about music and science. It was mainly targeted towards children between the ages of 10 and 12. Students learned through hands-on participation, composition and collaboration. Participants acquired the skills to develop their musical imagination, and to make music in an impulsive and responsive way, inspired by structures and phenomena in the natural world.

The essence of Biophilia was to encourage different worlds to meet, to collaborate, to connect different institutions in the society and form contacts and relationships across fields, subjects and age.

Each app takes one key feature of music theory (chords, scales, counterpoint etc.) and pairs it with a scientific phenomenon. The Biophilia Educational Project was built on Björk´s aforementioned app through the participation of academics, scientists, artists, teachers, and students. It was an extensive project with all five countries participating, plus Åland, Faroes and Greenland, and around 69 schools, youth centres and preschools, 154 teachers and 2778 students (see table below).

The project aimed to inspire children to explore their own creativity and to learn about music and science. It was mainly targeted towards children between the ages of 10 and 12. Students learned through hands-on participation, composition and collaboration. Participants acquired the skills to develop their musical imagination, and to make music in an impulsive and responsive way, inspired by structures and phenomena in the natural world.

The essence of Biophilia was to encourage different worlds to meet, to collaborate, to connect different institutions in the society and form contacts and relationships across fields, subjects and age.

Number of participating institutions, teachers and students, listed by country.
Statistical overview

The table indicates the number of participating institutions (schools, leisure centers, preschools, etc), teachers and students that participated in the project. It is important to note that these numbers do not include the hundreds of people who have attended open Biophilia workshops and presentations across the Nordic countries. They reflect only the participants who took a very active part in the intensive teaching and learning process of Biophilia.

Numbers are taken from the final reports of the countries

  • Country
  • Number of institutions*
  • Number of teachers
  • Number of students
  • Åland
  • 2
  • 5
  • 34
  • Denmark
  • 3
  • 10
  • 305
  • Faroes
  • 4
  • 16
  • 168
  • Finland
  • 7
  • 60
  • 1200
  • Greenland
  • 3
  • 9
  • 125
  • Iceland
  • 8
  • 35
  • 357
  • Norway
  • 4
  • 13
  • 538
  • Sweden
  • 2
  • 6
  • 51
  • Total
  • 69
  • 154
  • 2778
*(schools, preschools, youth centres)
Statistical overview

The table indicates the number of participating institutions (schools, leisure centers, preschools, etc), teachers and students that participated in the project. It is important to note that these numbers do not include the hundreds of people who have attended open Biophilia workshops and presentations across the Nordic countries. They reflect only the participants who took a very active part in the intensive teaching and learning process of Biophilia.

Numbers are taken from the final reports of the countries

Number of participating institutions, teachers and students, listed by country.

Country Number of institutions* Number of teachers Number of students
Åland 2 5 35
Denmark 3 10 305
Faroes 4 16 168
Finland 7 60 1200
Greenland 3 9 125
Iceland 8 35 357
Norway 4 13 538
Sweden 2 6 51
*(schools, preschools, youth centres)

Implementation

Implementation

In order to reach the widest possible engagement from the Nordic communities the Icelandic government put great strategic emphasis on the active participation of all eight countries.

In order to reach the widest possible engagement from the Nordic communities the Icelandic government put great strategic emphasis on the active participation of all eight countries.

The ministries of education across the Nordic countries appointed a leading institution (and an area/municipality) as the collaborative partner in the project. The project manager from the Icelandic Ministry of Education, Science & Culture held meetings with all appointed institutions in the preparatory period of the project (2014), which was focussed on introducing the project, its aims and responsibilities as well as to provide each institution with consultation and guidance for establishing a local steering group. From the start it was made clear that the steering group needed to be assembled by people from across sectors; it needed representatives from the local education authorities, cultural institution and a unviersity and/or a science centre. This setup was considered important because it represented the essence of project ́s concept: to encourage broad collaboration through an interdisciplinary approach. The steering group ́s mandate was to conduct and develop the project locally, its design and its educational aspect, as well as working with the interested parties in the region. Each steering group appointed a project manager who was responsible for running the project and served as a point of contact in the wider network of the project across the Nordic countries. The project managers had on average two meetings annually, organised and chaired by the management team from the Icelandic Ministry of Education, Science & Culture.

The ministries of education across the Nordic countries appointed a leading institution (and an area/municipality) as the collaborative partner in the project. The project manager from the Icelandic Ministry of Education, Science & Culture held meetings with all appointed institutions in the preparatory period of the project (2014), which was focussed on introducing the project, its aims and responsibilities as well as to provide each institution with consultation and guidance for establishing a local steering group. From the start it was made clear that the steering group needed to be assembled by people from across sectors; it needed representatives from the local education authorities, cultural institution and a unviersity and/or a science centre. This setup was considered important because it represented the essence of project ́s concept: to encourage broad collaboration through an interdisciplinary approach. The steering group ́s mandate was to conduct and develop the project locally, its design and its educational aspect, as well as working with the interested parties in the region. Each steering group appointed a project manager who was responsible for running the project and served as a point of contact in the wider network of the project across the Nordic countries. The project managers had on average two meetings annually, organised and chaired by the management team from the Icelandic Ministry of Education, Science & Culture.

The workshops took place as follows

Norway Greenland Faroe Islands Åland Islands Iceland Denmark Finland Sweden
Teacher training workshops

In 2015 the Icelandic management team travelled to all eight countries and held Biophilia workshops for the teachers participating in the project. The workshops typically took 1.5 – 2 days and the programme developed through time as the Icelandic team took into account the workshop evaluation after each visit.The workshops were attended by the project manager and core teachers in each country, as well as a wider group of people in some countries. The Icelandic team consisted of three instructors and the programme demanded a great deal of preparation from the participants and a very active participation.

The emphasis was on teaching the basics of the Biophilia Educational concept and methods, as well as inspiring teachers in a way that would encourage them to take ownership of the project and make it their own. The evaluation carried out after each workshop showed positive feedback, interest and enthusiasm for the project. Comments on areas of improvement were often on the time schedule, i.e. people would have liked to have an extra day for the workshop. This however proved difficult to address due to logistics such as financial and human resources.

The workshops took place as follows

Norway Greenland Faroe Islands Åland Islands Iceland Denmark Finland Sweden
3.1 Teacher training workshops

In 2015 the Icelandic management team travelled to all eight countries and held Biophilia workshops for the teachers participating in the project. The workshops typically took 1.5 – 2 days and the programme developed through time as the Icelandic team took into account the workshop evaluation after each visit. The workshops were attended by the project manager and core teachers in each country, as well as a wider group of people in some countries. The Icelandic team consisted of three instructors and the programme demanded a great deal of preparation from the participants and a very active participation.

The emphasis was on teaching the basics of the Biophilia Educational concept and methods, as well as inspiring teachers in a way that would encourage them to take ownership of the project and make it their own. The evaluation carried out after each workshop showed positive feedback, interest and enthusiasm for the project. Comments on areas of improvement were often on the time schedule, i.e. people would have liked to have an extra day for the workshop. This however proved difficult to address due to logistics such as financial and human resources.

The teaching guidelines expert group

One of the aims of the Biophilia Educational Project was to develop the project further through the Nordic approach. Among the first steps of the Nordic collaboration was to assemble a group of Nordic people, each an expert in their field, to go through the existing material of teaching guidelines from 2011 in order to assess it according to each respective scientific and music element, add new material and try to root it pedagogically and find new ways of using it.

The group had at least one represantative from each country and consisted of Sunleif Rasmussen, one of the Faroe Islands’ leading composers; Anja C. Andersen, astrophysicist with the Dark Cosmology Centre at the Niels Bohr foundation in Denmark; Pipaluk Jörgensen, playwright and director from Greenland; Cecilia Björck, Ph.D. in music education and senior lecturer in education at the University of Gothenburg; Esko Valtaoja, writer and professor of astronomy at the University of Turku; Alex Strömme, professor of science education at the University of Trondheim; Guðrún Geirsdóttir, chairman of the board of the University of Iceland’s Teaching Centre, and professor of education, and Björk Guðmundsdóttir. They took part in an intensive 4 day work meeting in May 2014 in Iceland. The work and ideas devised by this group formed the basis of the Nordic Biophilia teaching guidelines.

The guidelines were then further developed, according to the aims of the project, in collaboration with each participating Nordic region, incorporating local emphasis and knowledge.

Top row: Esko Valtaoja, Anja C. Andersen, Björk Guðmundsdóttir, Cecilia Björck, Guðrún Geirsdóttir. Bottom row: Sunleif Rasmussen, Pipaluk Jörgensen, Alex Strömme
The teaching guidelines expert group

One of the aims of the Biophilia Educational Project was to develop the project further through the Nordic approach. Among the first steps of the Nordic collaboration was to assemble a group of Nordic people, each an expert in their field, to go through the existing material of teaching guidelines from 2011 in order to assess it according to each respective scientific and music element, add new material and try to root it pedagogically and find new ways of using it.

The group had at least one represantative from each country and consisted of Sunleif Rasmussen, one of the Faroe Islands’ leading composers; Anja C. Andersen, astrophysicist with the Dark Cosmology Centre at the Niels Bohr foundation in Denmark; Pipaluk Jörgensen, playwright and director from Greenland; Cecilia Björck, Ph.D. in music education and senior lecturer in education at the University of Gothenburg; Esko Valtaoja, writer and professor of astronomy at the University of Turku; Alex Strömme, professor of science education at the University of Trondheim; Guðrún Geirsdóttir, chairman of the board of the University of Iceland’s Teaching Centre, and professor of education, and Björk Guðmundsdóttir. They took part in an intensive 4 day work meeting in May 2014 in Iceland. The work and ideas devised by this group formed the basis of the Nordic Biophilia teaching guidelines.

The guidelines were then further developed, according to the aims of the project, in collaboration with each participating Nordic region, incorporating local emphasis and knowledge.

The official website

An official website was created which served as an official information site for all interested parties, including the general public. It contained information on the Nordic collaboration, gave access to the education material, as well as providing general overview and background to the project. The content of the website was available in five languages: Icelandic, Danish, Swedish and Finnish and English. The education material was been translated into 7 languages: Icelandic, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish, Faroese, and English. To ensure a lasting impression and to strengthen the sustainability of the project the website has been updated to include new material and hosting of the website has been secured through the year 2019.

Successes and Challenges in the implementation of the project

The closing reports from the countries show that there was general satisfaction with project managers‘ meetings and conferences. The meetings provided valuable opportunities to enhance the understanding of the project by sharing information and ideas. The evaluation carried out after each teacher training workshop also gave positive feedback, in general. In hindsight further follow-up meetings during the implementation period would have been beneficial, both for the local teams in each region but also for the management team from the Icelandic Ministry of Education, Science & Culture to have better overview of how things were progressing.

The official website

An official website was created which served as an official information site for all interested parties, including the general public. It contained information on the Nordic collaboration, gave access to the education material, as well as providing general overview and background to the project. The content of the website was available in five languages: Icelandic, Danish, Swedish and Finnish and English. The education material was been translated into 7 languages: Icelandic, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish, Faroese, and English. To ensure a lasting impression and to strengthen the sustainability of the project the website has been updated to include new material and hosting of the website has been secured through the year 2019.

Successes and Challenges in the implementation of the project

The closing reports from the countries show that there was general satisfaction with project managers‘ meetings and conferences. The meetings provided valuable opportunities to enhance the understanding of the project by sharing information and ideas. The evaluation carried out after each teacher training workshop also gave positive feedback, in general. In hindsight further follow-up meetings during the implementation period would have been beneficial, both for the local teams in each region but also for the management team from the Icelandic Ministry of Education, Science & Culture to have better overview of how things were progressing.

The Icelandic Ministry ́s management team placed great emphasis on the independence and ownership of the participating teachers in the teacher training workshops. It is clear that the ownership and independence of teachers is paramount when it comes to successfully implementing changes in schools. The official project evaluation also indicated a strong correlation between good support from local management and the positive outcome of the project. In other words; the success of a project rests a great deal on the support of the management in each school/area. Furthermore the project manager of each country had considerable effect on the success of the project. It was clear in the countries where there were changes to the project management that the implementation of the project was not as successful.

Among the aims of the project was to break up traditional teaching methods and further develop the project by adding new material and ideas.
The collection and sharing of this material and ideas was intended be via the educational forum, an online platform specifically designed and set up for this project. All partners were urged to use it to communicate and to share material. As the project progressed it became apparent that people were not using the forum as planned. The participants gave several reasons for this; they felt they did not have sufficient time in their busy work schedule to give it their proper attention, they felt the forum was not accessible enough, and many noted that they would have been more comfortable using a pre-existing networking site such as facebook.

The Icelandic Ministry ́s management team placed great emphasis on the independence and ownership of the participating teachers in the teacher training workshops. It is clear that the ownership and independence of teachers is paramount when it comes to successfully implementing changes in schools. The official project evaluation also indicated a strong correlation between good support from local management and the positive outcome of the project. In other words; the success of a project rests a great deal on the support of the management in each school/area. Furthermore the project manager of each country had considerable effect on the success of the project. It was clear in the countries where there were changes to the project management that the implementation of the project was not as successful.

Among the aims of the project was to break up traditional teaching methods and further develop the project by adding new material and ideas.
The collection and sharing of this material and ideas was intended be via the educational forum, an online platform specifically designed and set up for this project. All partners were urged to use it to communicate and to share material. As the project progressed it became apparent that people were not using the forum as planned. The participants gave several reasons for this; they felt they did not have sufficient time in their busy work schedule to give it their proper attention, they felt the forum was not accessible enough, and many noted that they would have been more comfortable using a pre-existing networking site such as facebook.

Due to the forum not working as a data collection tool the project managers were asked to collect material directly from their teachers and present the results at a meeting in Copenhagen at the end of November 2016.
Two teachers, from Finland and Iceland, were consequently commissioned to edit these results and create a coherent document. This document, containing the „new“ Biophilia Teaching Guidelines, is accessible on the project ́s website.

For further information see The Official Project Evaluation.

Due to the forum not working as a data collection tool the project managers were asked to collect material directly from their teachers and present the results at a meeting in Copenhagen at the end of November 2016.
Two teachers, from Finland and Iceland, were consequently commissioned to edit these results and create a coherent document. This document, containing the „new“ Biophilia Teaching Guidelines, is accessible on the project ́s website.

For further information see The Official Project Evaluation.

Short documentary videos on the workshops
Short documentary videos on all workshops.

Nordic Benefit

Nordic Benefit

Biophilia has generated a huge amount of interest from the start, both within and outside the Nordic region.

The Biophilia Educational Project had at its center the aim of further developing the project ́s content across Nordic borders, creating a solid Nordic cooperation in the field of education and in so doing promoting the whole Nordic region as one community. In order to reach the widest possible engagement from the Nordic communities the Icelandic government put great strategic emphasis on the active participation of all eight countries.

Biophilia has generated a huge amount of interest from the start, both within and outside the Nordic region.

The Biophilia Educational Project had at its center the aim of further developing the project ́s content across Nordic borders, creating a solid Nordic cooperation in the field of education and in so doing promoting the whole Nordic region as one community. In order to reach the widest possible engagement from the Nordic communities the Icelandic government put great strategic emphasis on the active participation of all eight countries.

Successfully the project was implemented in all eight countries of the Nordic region, involving over 60 schools, 150 teachers and 2500 students – and these were the participants at the core of the project who had a very active engagement. Many more people and institutions were introduced to the project through open workshops and events. The material that developed in the process of the project, as well as the collaborative efforts between schools, institutions and countries have resulted in a Nordic network which has reinforced a sense of Nordic solidarity and increased interest in using inter-disciplinary teaching methods.

Biophilia has generated a huge amount of interest from the start, both within and outside the Nordic region. The project received coverage in newspapers such as The Guardian, Huffington Post, The Rolling Stone, Helsingin Sanomat, and Iceland Review, as well as on state radio in Iceland and Finland and on state television in Iceland and Sweden. The project has also been presented in conferences and events outside the Nordic region, f. ex. in Quebec (International Symposium on Northern Development), in Estonia (Creative Forum), in Scotland (Edinburgh International Science Festival), in London (Somerset House), in Switzerland (Culturescapes festival in Basel) and in Hamburg (Conference for Directors of Education at European Concert Halls). The Ministry of Education, Science & Culture in Iceland receives ongoing requests from abroad for presentations on the project, so there is still considerable interest and therefore the opportunity to introduce this Nordic project outside the Nordic region.

See further in Publicity and Presentation.

Successfully the project was implemented in all eight countries of the Nordic region, involving over 60 schools, 150 teachers and 2500 students – and these were the participants at the core of the project who had a very active engagement. Many more people and institutions were introduced to the project through open workshops and events. The material that developed in the process of the project, as well as the collaborative efforts between schools, institutions and countries have resulted in a Nordic network which has reinforced a sense of Nordic solidarity and increased interest in using inter-disciplinary teaching methods.

Biophilia has generated a huge amount of interest from the start, both within and outside the Nordic region. The project received coverage in newspapers such as The Guardian, Huffington Post, The Rolling Stone, Helsingin Sanomat, and Iceland Review, as well as on state radio in Iceland and Finland and on state television in Iceland and Sweden. The project has also been presented in conferences and events outside the Nordic region, f. ex. in Quebec (International Symposium on Northern Development), in Estonia (Creative Forum), in Scotland (Edinburgh International Science Festival), in London (Somerset House), in Switzerland (Culturescapes festival in Basel) and in Hamburg (Conference for Directors of Education at European Concert Halls). The Ministry of Education, Science & Culture in Iceland receives ongoing requests from abroad for presentations on the project, so there is still considerable interest and therefore the opportunity to introduce this Nordic project outside the Nordic region.

See further in Publicity and Presentation.

Official Project Evaluation

Official Project Evaluation

As stated before the Biophilia Educational Project was taught in over 60 schools/other institutions by over 150 teachers to over 2500 students across all five Nordic countries, as well as Åland, Faroe Islands and Greenland.

An independent consultation company (Attentus Consulting) was commissioned to evaluate the implementation and methodology of the project. The evaluation was meant to cover if and how the main objectives of the project were achieved, what the main strengths and weaknesses were, and the effect the Biophilia Educational Project has had on the participating teachers, their work, their workplace and their students.

As stated before the Biophilia Educational Project was taught in over 60 schools/other institutions by over 150 teachers to over 2500 students across all five Nordic countries, as well as Åland, Faroe Islands and Greenland.

An independent consultation company (Attentus Consulting) was commissioned to evaluate the implementation and methodology of the project. The evaluation was meant to cover if and how the main objectives of the project were achieved, what the main strengths and weaknesses were, and the effect the Biophilia Educational Project has had on the participating teachers, their work, their workplace and their students.

In general, the teachers were satisfied with the Biophilia Educational Project.

The results of surveys and focus groups showed that the project had a positive influence on the teaching methods of all the participating teachers, as well as showing increased interest among them to use a creative approach in their teaching.

The results also show an increased interest in integrating different subjects in their teaching and in most of the participating countries the teachers reported an increased interest among their students in music, creative ways of learning, technology and natural science.

In general, the teachers were satisfied with the Biophilia Educational Project.

The results of surveys and focus groups showed that the project had a positive influence on the teaching methods of all the participating teachers, as well as showing increased interest among them to use a creative approach in their teaching.

The results also show an increased interest in integrating different subjects in their teaching and in most of the participating countries the teachers reported an increased interest among their students in music, creative ways of learning, technology and natural science.

Based on the results of this evaluation a few recommendations were made on how a project such as this might be improved:

  • it is important to find ways to make it easier for participants to collaborate with each other both within countries and between countries;
  • information, guidelines and instructions need to be clear and follow-up needs to be provided throughout the project;
  • the participants need to have strong support from their leadership/management as well as support from the municipality.

Based on the results of this evaluation a few recommendations were made on how a project such as this might be improved:

  • it is important to find ways to make it easier for participants to collaborate with each other both within countries and between countries;
  • information, guidelines and instructions need to be clear and follow-up needs to be provided throughout the project;
  • the participants need to have strong support from their leadership/management as well as support from the municipality.

Below are a few quotes from teachers who participated in the project:

The full report from Attentus is attached.

While participating in the Biophilia Educational Project participants developed many diverse practices and methods. A collection of these Nordic teaching guidelines has been assembled and will be published on the project website as of August 2017 as well as in an updated Biophilia app.

Quotes from teachers who participated in the project

The full report from Attentus is attached.

Equality

Equality

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The official evaluation of the project, managed by Attentus Consulting, was conducted among the teachers participating in the project. The data from the Attentus report shows that women were 60% of participants and men were 40%. This is in correlation with the gender ratio in the teacher profession, largely true across the Nordic countries.

MEN

WOMEN

Of the project managers 62.5% were women and 37.5% were men.

The official evaluation of the project, managed by Attentus Consulting, was conducted among the teachers participating in the project. The data from the Attentus report shows that women were 60% of participants and men were 40%. This is in correlation with the gender ratio in the teacher profession, largely true across the Nordic countries.

MEN

WOMEN

Of the project managers 62.5% were women and 37.5% were men.

Publicity & Presentations

Publicity & Presentations

Biophilia has generated a huge amount of interest from the start, both within and outside the Nordic region. The project received coverage in newspapers such as The Guardian, Huffington Post, The Rolling Stone, Helsingin Sanomat, and Iceland Review, as well as on state radio in Iceland and Finland and on state television in Iceland and Sweden. The project has also been presented in conferences and events outside the Nordic region, f. ex. in Quebec (International Symposium on Northern Development), in Estonia (Creative Forum), in Scotland (Edinburgh International Science Festival), in London (Somerset House), in Switzerland (Culturescapes festival in Basel) and in Hamburg (Conference for Directors of Education at European Concert Halls). The Ministry of Education, Science & Culture in Iceland receives ongoing requests from abroad for presentations on the project, so there is still considerable interest and therefore the opportunity to introduce this Nordic project outside the Nordic region.

Biophilia has generated a huge amount of interest from the start, both within and outside the Nordic region. The project received coverage in newspapers such as The Guardian, Huffington Post, The Rolling Stone, Helsingin Sanomat, and Iceland Review, as well as on state radio in Iceland and Finland and on state television in Iceland and Sweden. The project has also been presented in conferences and events outside the Nordic region, f. ex. in Quebec (International Symposium on Northern Development), in Estonia (Creative Forum), in Scotland (Edinburgh International Science Festival), in London (Somerset House), in Switzerland (Culturescapes festival in Basel) and in Hamburg (Conference for Directors of Education at European Concert Halls). The Ministry of Education, Science & Culture in Iceland receives ongoing requests from abroad for presentations on the project, so there is still considerable interest and therefore the opportunity to introduce this Nordic project outside the Nordic region.

THE NORDIC KNOWLEDGE TRAIN

THE NORDIC KNOWLEDGE TRAIN

The NKT project aimed at exploring new methods in formal and informal education, connecting natural sciences, technique, art and innovation across school stages, subjects and sectors.

The activities of the train were intended to spark interest in STEM subjects and the joy of learning. The Nordic Knowledge Train (NKT) was a side-project of Biophilia. It was a science communication outreach project between Frodskaparsetur Foroya (Faroe Islands), Heureka science center (Finnland), Jærmuseet, Science Circus (Norway), Technichus (Sweden) and coordinated by The University of Iceland.

The NKT project aimed at exploring new methods in formal and informal education, connecting natural sciences, technique, art and innovation across school stages, s ubjects and sectors.

The activities of the train were intended to spark interest in STEM subjects and the joy of learning. The Nordic Knowledge Train (NKT) was a side-project of Biophilia. It was a science communication outreach project between Frodskaparsetur Foroya (Faroe Islands), Heureka science center (Finnland), Jærmuseet, Science Circus (Norway), Technichus (Sweden) and coordinated by The University of Iceland.

Remote areas and hard to reach communities, geographically or socially, benefited from the visits of the train and special measures were taken to meet pupils and parents among fugitives or asylum seekers. The Nordic partners in the project strengthened their network and collaboration opportunities both in their local communities, with other educational and cultural institutes, and between themselves. New methods were developed, piloted and evaluated and all participating partners have taken steps to continue their knowledge exchange and practice of new methods. This new connection between formal and informal educational venues can in the future strengthen a Nordic platform in the development of new interdisciplinary methods and innovative approaches.

For further details see attached report.

Conclusion

Conclusion

The results of surveys and focus groups showed that the Biophilia Educational project had a positive influence on the teaching methods of all the participating teachers, as well as showing increased interest among them to use a creative approach in their teaching. The results also showed that teachers experiences increased interest in integrating different subjects in their teaching and in most of the participating countries the teachers reported an increased interest among their students in music, creative ways of learning, technology and natural sciences.

The results of surveys and focus groups showed that the Biophilia Educational project had a positive influence on the teaching methods of all the participating teachers, as well as showing increased interest among them to use a creative approach in their teaching. The results also showed that teachers experiences increased interest in integrating different subjects in their teaching and in most of the participating countries the teachers reported an increased interest among their students in music, creative ways of learning, technology and natural sciences.

Based on the results of this evaluation a few recommendations were made on how a project such as this might be improved. It is important to find ways to make it easier for participants to collaborate with each other both within countries and between countries; information, guidelines and instructions need to be clear and follow-up needs to be provided throughout the project. Last but not least the participants need to have strong support from their leadership/management as well as support from the municipality. The project process contributed to an extensive collaboration between a number of institutions, teachers and students across the entire northern region. While

participating in the Biophilia Educational Project participants developed many diverse practices and methods. A collection of the teaching guidelines that developed during the project have been assembled and published on the project website to further strengthen the sustainability of the project. The Biophilia Educational Project addressed some of the issues and challenges that the primary education systems in the Nordic countries are facing. The essence of the project was to encourage collaboration, cross-disciplinary teaching and the use of creativity in learning about natural sciences and music, with the help of technology. It emphasized the importance of giving students and teachers the opportunity to play – to explore – to connect and to create.

Based on the results of this evaluation a few recommendations were made on how a project such as this might be improved. It is important to find ways to make it easier for participants to collaborate with each other both within countries and between countries; information, guidelines and instructions need to be clear and follow-up needs to be provided throughout the project. Last but not least the participants need to have strong support from their leadership/management as well as support from the municipality. The project process contributed to an extensive collaboration between a number of institutions, teachers and students across the entire northern region. While

participating in the Biophilia Educational Project participants developed many diverse practices and methods. A collection of the teaching guidelines that developed during the project have been assembled and published on the project website to further strengthen the sustainability of the project. The Biophilia Educational Project addressed some of the issues and challenges that the primary education systems in the Nordic countries are facing. The essence of the project was to encourage collaboration, cross-disciplinary teaching and the use of creativity in learning about natural sciences and music, with the help of technology. It emphasized the importance of giving students and teachers the opportunity to play – to explore – to connect and to create.