Meet the Expert Meet the Expert

Carlos Cunha is a Physics and Chemistry teacher at Escola Secundária Dom Manuel Martins,  upper secondary school in Setúbal, Portugal.

He has a thorough experience in promoting hands-on and inquiry oriented learning. He was involved in several projects on Astronomy and Physics teaching; he is also a member of the Scientix expert panel and a pilot teacher in the ECB/inGenious project.

Explaining his teaching credo, Carlos says: "I really do think that experimental and inquiry based teaching is the best way to get a meaningful learning, specially when using simple toys or day-to-day objects to illustrate physical phenomena."

Carlos is a Chemical engineer with a master degree in Laboratory Physics, Teaching and History of Physics. He has also received further teacher training in programmes organised by CERN, European Space Agency and other international research institutions. 

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Summary of the 1st Teacher ODE Summary of the 1st Teacher ODE

The first teacher Online Discussion Event took place in the period 11-13 July 2012 and was moderated by Carlos Cunha. During the three day event teachers were invited to discuss how they are informed about European and national science education project results.

Bellow you find a summary of the discussed themes each day of the event.

Day 1
The first day focussed on the various dissemination channels teachers can access to get results from Science & Math Education projects. 

Most teachers said they prefer Twitter, since "You can receive information as an audience (if you want) or, on the other hand you can just send information" and because " you can choose the kind of information you want to receive. It is very easy and comfortable to use." The participants were also invited to discuss traditional media channels, but the participation was less active.

Day 2
On the second day, participants discussed what could create better dissemination of results to teachers. Some teachers mentioned the necessity for project managers to find new ways to reach teachers. It was suggested that teachers attending project workshops and conferences should have the responsability to participate in meetings with local teachers to disseminate information learned from the conferences and workshops. Some participants expressed the need of having workshops and conferences in their mother tongue.

Day 3
The third day aimed to determine the key information that should be communicated to catch teachers’ attention.
Communication and dissemination of new and inspiring methodologies and resources were seen as more interesting and effective for teachers if they are presented by peers. New methodologies should be part of the national curricula of all European countries and competitions among teachers and schools shoudl be encouraged to foster the application of new methodologies, especially if the prize is teaching equipment for the schools.

Important! Important!

Discussions Discussions
How to catch a teacher's attention
RE: How to catch a teacher's attention
14/07/12 20:45
I think you're absolutely right. Without resources we can't do nothing. Children like simple scientific experiments. With this experiments it is easy to learn and students are attracted to the sciences.
RE: How to catch a teacher's attention
13/07/12 20:07
Dear Marilena,

SCIENTIX can be the website you speak about.
It has projects, news, outcomes of STEM projects,...
We can look for also in EST (European Shared Treasure). A database with the outcomes of the Comenius projects.
But, in y case, it's very difficult to disseminate our ideas in workshops or congress because in school budgets there aren't money for it. It's a big difference with Universities, where you can ask for money to attend congresses. When we (teachers) go to workshops or congresses is paying by ourselves (or thanks to projects promoted by EUN).

Our schools only pay us to teach in our class, but not for disseminate our ideas, projects or experiences... And the Ministeries of Education have their own experts, haven't they?

Daniel Aguirre
RE: How to catch a teacher's attention
13/07/12 19:09
So, I think a Web site it would be helpful only for dissemination projects, where managers upload their outcomes, the activities, links to the projects section for discussion, recruiting teachers promoters, and a newsletter that you can get schools and teachers, weekly.
Also, a project would help to motivate a greater number of teachers through their participation in conferences, seminars, meetings with the company, competition, etc..
For exemple, it was a project last year about transdisciplinarity and teachers were inviteted to particiate at a competition .
Awards - equipping schools with labs multitouch. 8 / country.
Thus, we won a lab only multitouch tablets that will work students. It was very motivating ...emoticon
RE: How to catch a teacher's attention
13/07/12 17:48
Dears Des Spolse, Maite Debry, Marilena and Tina and all,

Yes I can agree that it would be interesting if all European national curricula could include inquiry methodologies, innovative activities, but...

What kind of resources, webpages, projects do you think that would get the attention of those colleagues at your school that are not already motivated to this practices?

Give us your opinion on that, please!!!
RE: How to catch a teacher's attention
13/07/12 17:43
We have not much freedom because of the big Curriculum. It should be intersting to develop extra-class sciences clubs but some financial help is needed !
RE: How to catch a teacher's attention
13/07/12 17:25
I am totally agree with you.
Everything has to do with the investment in teachers as human resource to promote STEM.
Also, material must be motivated.
RE: How to catch a teacher's attention
13/07/12 17:25
Of course, you are right!
In my school is rather difficult to find sciences teachers Sometimes other teachers (gym teacher for instance ) give sciences lessons for one year ... the other year it is another ... There is not enough stability in the teacher sciences team , so I understand that this new teacher doesn't dare to get involved in something new.
RE: How to catch a teacher's attention
13/07/12 17:18
Des Spolse:
I was also thinking that if the European Commission would want Europe to reach out to teachers and make us apply new methods in order to assure a higher number of engineers in the further Europe the European Union should use a much higher budget in reaching out to us. A European strategy for more engineers cannot only be based on the good will from an enthusiastic and voluntary contribution from teachers like us. We are too few and Europe is too big, we need more front teachers to help with the dissemination. The EC should put a budget for this – or/and the national governments…

I agree that it is important to support the effort of teachers that are motivated to spread out the word on innovative teaching methods and invest in professional development of teachers including in-service training.
A good way to communicate the results of science education teachers is to include the new resources, teaching material and innovative methods in the national curricula.
RE: How to catch a teacher's attention
13/07/12 14:51
Am I the only one thinking this way?
RE: Ways to improve dissemination.
13/07/12 15:20
yes, agree with you. Young teachers speak better in English, but the number of young teachers is rather small....We need teachers, who is available to translate materials to national languages and propagate project. When I offer Ingeniuos materials to our teacher of chemistry, she said: " I have it in national language" It is interesting, it is barrier for teacher, not for students. Students prefer to learn in English, many of them dream about European education. Every year choice of some the best students is Universities of England, Scotland and Germany.
RE: Ways to improve dissemination.
13/07/12 15:10
We need to provide translation of project s information to national languages. Unfortunately. a lot of teachers of STEM in Estonia does not speak in English. I think it is the same picture in Latvia, in Lithuania, in Hungary, In Poland, in Bulgaria, Slovakia and others. Yes, we have Sweden, where English is a second language, and Malta and other countries, where English is very popular. We have too many resources for sharing of information. Why don't create one resource in STEM direction or share information through social network like Facebook? You need to find people for cooperation, who would translate and propagate information in national languages.
RE: Ways to improve dissemination.
13/07/12 11:40
Hello friends,
I don't know if writting here, a day later, is a good idea, but yesterday it was impossible to participate.
I agree with Tina about the English language. It's a barrier to a lot of teachers in Spain to participate in internatioanl projects, but I think that in the future it will be different. Young teachers speaks English better than older ones and in some years the problems will be others.

When you ask to a teacher about innovation, always TIME is the main problem. It's vey difficult to convince schools manager to give "free time" for training. Always the training is from our free time. And every day things are worse here, with the Goverment increasing number of hours giving lessons, and decreasing salaries.

From my experience, the best way to disseminate a project is when a teacher find it useful for him/her daily work. And when the students learn more and better, engaged with the task (it's the best present for a teacher).

RE: Ways to improve dissemination.
12/07/12 18:34
Hi everyone,
In Romania, every school has a teacher who is an European information multiplier (I am in my school). It's actually a network of multiplier which advises and information about European projects and International Relation.
All the information coming from the network and from our search.
Fear in our teachers is also English, is doing much better in their mother tongue.
A European Network of multipliers can be more useful or just a multimedia platform for dissemination projects in many languages​​.
12/07/12 18:07
So in conclusion what would you advice to make sure project results are better disseminated to teachers?
RE: Identify dificulties.
12/07/12 17:55
I get a lot of very important information from newsletters created by:

- EUN;
- Physics Portuguese Society;
- Chemistry Portuguese Society;
- Several Science museums all over the world;
- Several Universities all over the world;
- Several astronomic observatories all over the world.

These newsletters provide resumed information and I detect an interesting issue I consider it a starting point for searching for more information. This way I have participate on CERN´s teaching programs, ESA´s teaching programs, I have applied for grants to participate on international teaching conferences and I have find a lot of resources to apply on my classes.
RE: Ways to improve dissemination.
12/07/12 17:45
Dear Tina,

In Belgium ( in the French community) and I think in France too, teachers are "afraid" to get involved in European projects because most of them don't know English enough !

For most working sessions of the projects, as you know, basic English is enough. Several of our colleagues didn´t dominate English but they always have very good and active participations, with very good resources presented.

Probably this is a subject that we could discuss on the other thread about "identify difficulties". But having sessions on the mother language of each country would limit the advantage of sharing learning with teachers from other nationalities, don´t you think?
RE: Ways to improve dissemination.
12/07/12 17:28
Dear Águeda and all,

Since I was very active on projects in Portugal, applied to several Live Science projects, taking my students to national and international science contests, used inquiry methodologies, etc., Portuguese Education Ministry (DGIDC) invite me to apply to the EUN projects and I was accepted. Since then, I have invited several Portuguese colleagues to apply to other projects. Of course that it is very important that the Principal of the School believes that this European projects are important for schools, and they are because they develop a all new school culture on teaching STEM subjects.

Since the first meeting of SPICE project I have learn a lot, met a lot of excellent and very active teachers from all over Europe and I have disseminate that leaning among a big number of Portuguese teachers.

EUN projects are now on the Portuguese schools portal, at the Ministry web site, at several schools web sites.
RE: Identify dificulties.
12/07/12 17:03
From stories I have heard from teachers:

- Paper information that reaches the school gets "filtered" by the school secretary and then the department head master so very little reaches the actual teachers

- Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, Websites: not enough time to check them all

- Emails -- maybe the best

BUT, how often do teachers share their email address to receive those emails? and how many emails do they receive from different projects?
RE: Your opinion on comunication channels
12/07/12 23:26
I participated in this project (Nanoyou) and I created a website with activities undertaken. The children liked a lot the experiments and the role play. I participated also in the wokshop about nanotechnology from Go Digital conference. It was very interesting. I had the opportunity to talk about my work and children and to know different points of view. Last year I participated in the projects Unawe (about Universe), Discover and Greenwave(about spring). It's very good for this projects to be known through websites, articles or blogs . The children like it so much!
RE: Your opinion on comunication channels
12/07/12 18:39
Another channel of dissemination that was not mentioned yet are blogs. I think a lot of teachers really like it to receive information and to share their experience. EUN used this channel in various projects and to share about some events as well. A very succesfull one for example was the Nanoyou school blog from the Nanoyou project on nanoscience and nanotechnology education. Teachers gave very positive feedback and actively participate

Another example is the blog from the Acer project run by European Schoolnet.; The blog is a way to communicate the results of the research made on the use of netbooks in school.

Do you find the blogs a good channel to receive results from science education projects? Or do you think it does not reach out enough teachers?
RE: Your opinion on comunication channels
12/07/12 14:42
Carlos Cunha:
What is your favorite social media to get information? Why? (facebook, twitter, eCards, smartphone applications)
What social media does not work for you? Why?
Which social media do you imagine is the best one to get information?

I prefer email, discussion lists.
I do not use Facebook, and had not-so-good experiences in using Twitter in-classroom activities, as I posted in some other thread in these debates.

I just remembered that we also used Wikis in a classroom project, but it did not work well, it takes lot of effort both from students and teachers, to develop a good product.
RE: Traditional media channels
12/07/12 14:39
A news dissemination channel that we use if a local teachers' association. We have a Google discussion group, and apart from debating some issues from time to time, we exchange all kinds of information, ideas, materials, etc.

Personally, I am also a member of an American (University) physics teachers association and I get any many and very interesting mails every day. I wonder if there is anything like this for European high school science teachers.
RE: Traditional media channels
12/07/12 11:30
I like to read books, but computer science develops very fast. It is hard to find new books. Of course, I use digital channels -Internet resources, special resources for teachers. I get information using some sites of organizations, for example, European SchoolNet, Tiger Leap Foundation and others. I get information from Facebook - for examples, "We are teachers".
I like sharing of experience with other teachers at the conferences, workshops. European Forum of innovative teachers is a great event in teacher's life. I get information through project's work - for example, Ingenious is very useful.
I read and use materials of other teachers from their blogs. Articles in special scientific journals are useful too, but it is not always available in our libraries. I get info in visual form (video, photos) - I use Internet resources youtube, flickr and others.
Traditional media channels
12/07/12 00:27
Can you please go to Day 1, Sub-category 2 - traditional media channels, and give us your opinion about this questions:

1. Traditionally Teacher Association help their members keep up to date with curriculum changes and the legislative settlement of the members’ rights and privileges and provide information on how to strengthen their carrier with courses and postgraduate course. Are you part of a teacher association provider of courses and inspiring information you can use as a teacher? And have they ever informed you about STEM research results?

2. There are many communication channels now a day and we will of course not be able to talk about all of them in detail. But we might mention some last channels which you are welcome to comment on.
Can you mention if you have received information on STEM project results though newsletters, press releases, websites, radio, newspapers, review journal, videos?
Which one do you consider the most efficient communication channel and in which situation do you use them?

3. Attending conferences and workshops is also an important why to keep up to date with newest research and trends in your professional life. Are you sometimes invited to trainings for teachers, conferences and/or workshops?
Which institution(s) keeps you informed of these opportunities?
Can you give some examples of the kind of organisations that sets up these opportunities?

4. What is your favourite traditional channel to get information? Why? (conferences, workshops, written articles like leaflets and brochures, videos, newsletters, press realises, websites, radio, newspapers, review journals, videos)
What traditional channel does not work for you? Why?
Which channel do you imagine as the best one to get information?

Thank you for your participation!
Your opinion on comunication channels
12/07/12 00:23
What is your favorite social media to get information? Why? (facebook, twitter, eCards, smartphone applications)
What social media does not work for you? Why?
Which social media do you imagine is the best one to get information?
RE: Summary Urgently
09/10/12 18:21
Hello Carlos
I want to speak with You , quicqly , please..
My adress e- mail is
contact- me
Have a nice day
12/07/12 00:06
This first day had good participation from teachers, specially on Sub-category 1 - Social Media questions.

About Facebook utilization, the majority of the participating teachers mentioned that they use Facebook for fun, in informal situations. Nevertheless, some teachers have used it in projects with their students.

Most teachers said that they prefer twitter, since "You can receive information as a audience (if you want) or, on the other hand you can just send information" and because "you can choose the kind of information you want to receive. It is very easy and confortable to use."

About smartphone as disseminators of information, they have the advantage of mobility but "smart is used quite often, but not a very large scale because of the relatively high cost.". It probably will be a good idea for a near future, and of course, they can be replaced by tablets.

The participation on Sub-category 2 - Traditional media channels was low.

On the 4 threads proposed, only 2 post were placed. I would like that participants mention reasons for such a low participation: were there to many threads? The subject was no interesting? Please give me (us) some feedback.

I thank you all for participating on this first day and hope that tomorrow´s subject is interesting and motivates your participation.