The research „Study of popularising science and technology in Estonia” was conducted by the Institute of Baltic Studies in collaboration with HeiVäl Consulting. The aim of the study was to provide an overview of the current state of the popularisation of science and technology (STEM), pinpoint the developments in this field from 2013-2018 and propose recommendations and suggestions for further planning of STEM activities.

More than 500 teachers, school leaders and hobby instructors were interviewed to map science and technology popularizing activities, nearly 40 experts and policy makers were interviewed, and reports on projects supported in the 2014-2017 national call for proposals for science popularization were analyzed.

This is a follow-up study to the „Study on various activities for popularising science and technology“ commissioned by the Estonian Research Council in 2013 and conducted by research centre Praxis.

  • The popularisation of science and technology involves activities that promote science and engineering and make them more comprehensible to the general public. This is the introduction of science and research achievements, the work of scientists and engineers, and the attraction of interest in research and the profession of scientists and engineers. The aim of these activities is to raise the interest of young people in science, including in the field of STEM and its career prospects, as well as to deepen interest and the will to act in this field, both in general and interest education and later in higher education.
  • STEM field – the field of science and technology, in example mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, geography, geology, industrial arts and technology education, information and communication technologies and technical education, including engineering.

The results of the study showed that there has been a noticeable improvement in the field of STEM in recent years. According to the experts interviewed, the reputation and popularity of STEM in society has increased over the last five years. Areas such as robotics have been developed evenly across Estonia thanks to instructor training, study programs, supportive materials and competitions. Compared to the present, there was a shortage of activities offered to younger pupils, but exciting circles, events and activities for students of all ages are offered today.

STEM in society has increased over the last five years. Areas such as robotics have been developed evenly across Estonia thanks to instructor training, study programs, supportive materials and competitions. Compared to the present, there was a shortage of activities offered to younger pupils, but exciting circles, events and activities for students of all ages are offered today.

The following are some of the most important issues related to STEM activities:

  • Insufficient coordination and cooperation;
  • The need for the undergrowth of teachers and popularisers and the development of their skills;
  • Insufficient and project-based funding;
  • Pupils’ awareness of STEM career opportunities is incomplete;
  • Little attention is paid to maintaining a deeper interest;
  • Low involvement of parents, less motivated schools, schools with special educational needs, smaller schools, schools in smaller settlements or Russian-language schools;
  • Low targeting and performance evaluation of STEM popularising activities.

In addition, the authors of the study recommend in the coming years to pay more attention to the more sustainable support of activities – either to provide quality support for one year or to support them for several years at a time.

Recommendations and suggestions for the further planning for both policy makers and implementers are outlined in the final report of the study.

The study was funded by the European Regional Development Fund RITA programme “Support for knowledge-based policy formulation”.