The International Students Science Fair (ISSF) was officially launched in 2005 to facilitate international interaction and collaboration in science education. The ISSF brings together students, teachers and school leaders to share and develop their ideas about science in a modern world. The ISSF is the major event of its type in the world with a focus on the combined sharing and development of teaching and learning in science education. Each year’s event creates a learning hub for participants that provide a range of forums promoting the development in teaching and learning of science research and science education.
Goals of ISSF
To provide students with opportunities to:
· effectively communicate scientific knowledge and concepts to an international audience;
· think critically about how effective leadership in science can provide solutions to complex societal issues;
· make cross-cultural connections with gifted science students, teachers and principals.
The ISSF also aims to build the capacities of participating science educators through leadership programs for teachers and educational leaders. Through these formal and informal programs, science educators can engage in professional discourse and develop ties with their counterparts from schools around the world.
The ISSF was conceived in 2004 at the Australian Science and Mathematics School (ASMS) in Adelaide, South Australia when educators from many countries including Australia, Singapore, Thailand, Korea and Japan came together and shared their reflections and understandings regarding student and teacher engagement within the science and mathematics fields of study. The ISSF was officially launched in 2005 to act as a platform for budding scientists to display their scientific knowledge and defend their findings in a non-competitive setting. The event provides students from around the world valuable opportunities to work in collaborative settings to exchange ideas, hone their research techniques and engage their inquisitive minds on the sciences with like-minded peers. Opportunities are provided that extend student thinking, allowing them to use their knowledge in interesting ways and encourage all participants to explore their ethics and assumptions. In particular, the team work for the problem solving and sharing sessions gives students and educators the chance to work with peers from different nations, thus promoting the intercultural understandings needed in the 21st Century. A significant component of ISSF is the cultural and social interactions which help develop friendships and collaborative opportunities amongst our students and educational leaders which may be the basis for future cooperation and study.
The structure of the ISSF is to provide participants with a five day program that includes:
· Keynote speakers and presentations
· Cultural presentations
· Student research project presentations
· Student poster sharing
· Collaborative student workshops based on themes as decided by the host country
· Industrial and cultural tours
· Teacher workshops
· Principal meetings and workshops
· Social activities
The ISSF highlights:
· The value of bringing people together to share in personal ways their common interests in science
· The challenge of developing the scientists of the future who will work to solve the great problems that our world faces
The ISSF model has evolved over the past few years to engage the university community, local government, NGOs and research institutions in a network that provides the ISSF participants with world-class venues for authentic experiences. These partnerships have a long term impact on the local host communities with the learning network providing on-going collaboration. The ISSF model is now used by former host schools to provide a yearly event for their local schools. This has facilitated and sustained high-level science opportunities for many students that have not been able to participate in an ISSF event. The following programs have initiated annual fairs that enhance the reach of ISSF including Japan (Ritsumeikan) Super Science Fair (Kyoto, Japan), Australia Science and Mathematics School (ASMS) Student Science Fair (Adelaide, Australia) and Manitoba Life Science Week (Winnipeg, Manitoba). Each of these events brings together students and teachers from a number of countries to participate in a week long learning opportunity as well as many local and regional programs. Local schools in Japan, Australia and Manitoba are thus provided the benefits of a program that is modelled after a successful International program. As the ISSF moves forward with these partnerships, especially with the university community it is anticipated that students will be encouraged to consider both a science related career as well as graduate level studies in a wide variety of fields.