Islands share an element of isolation, being physically disconnected from the mainland. According to the ESPON targeted analysis (2013) most European islands suffer from low accessibility, few employment and educational opportunities and a low level of innovation compared to the European mainland. The shortage of Human Capital often leads to an underdevelopment in the education system and a lower level of education. As such, in a time where science education faces so many obstacles and students easily disengage, in these isolated islands this appears to be increased. Although faced with a lower attractiveness for investment, from a different point of view isolation can be their most valuable trait. Islands host a very important patrimony of natural and cultural assets. Containing specific traits of flora and fauna, their own micro-climate and cultural heritage, islands accommodate a perfect environment for science education to be promoted. One of the listed measures to diminish the impact of isolation and boost development in the islands is to promote the use of new ICT tools in education (ESPON, 2013).
IDiverSE builds on the awareness of the uniqueness and value of the European islands. It is settles on the fact that with the use of real scientific research students can discover the value of their natural and local culture , while with the use of ICT they can share their discoveries with the outside world thus promoting the richness of their homelands. This project intends to bring innovation to the school environment and open the school to the community, namely based on outdoors pathways where people experience science, through hands-on activities and observing natural phenomena around us.
Interdisciplinary and collaborative inquiry, local culture, ethnoscience and personal geography will be integrated to create a Science Trail where students will explore their natural environment starting from the Water, continuing to the Land and ending with the Skies. Altogether the results will provide students with a holistic view of the factors that influence their lives, as their culture, their environment and their geographical conditions. Working in cooperation with schools from different islands in Europe and worldwide, through an online platform, students will also realise that each island has a different network of influences creating a diversity that brings value and uniqueness to each student’s homeland.
IDiverSE also stands for “I Diverse” and as such it aims to include an even deeper view of Diversity, integrating each student’s internal world as unique and precious, promoting awareness for civic and ethical issues for the respect of difference. In the end the Science Trails will become available to each island’s community and students will share their findings as well as raise their community’s awareness for the Diversity concepts learnt. The whole process will be transparent and inclusive, raising their community’s understanding of the importance of development and innovation in education. IDiverSE is in line with the key competences for the 21st century skills for students and teachers. By promoting real scientific research and Inquiry Based activities, it challenges students to become more independent and proactive, developing their critical thinking and the capacity to find problem solving solutions. For the international cooperation component it promotes the development of social and communication skills, as well as tolerance and global citizenship.