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NGO Pro.Pro.Lab


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NGO Pro.Pro.Lab

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The goal of the Pro.Pro.Lab organization is to encourage students to grow their engineering potential. We try to be achieve this, through implementing educational solutions that will allow teachers to immerse their students in the world of science and technology, and help them explore these worlds from the inside.
To meet the needs of students and teachers in innovation and creativity, we are going to organize the all-Ukrainian annual Engineering Week.

In developing our training and teaching materials, we strive to show:

— how the laws of nature manifest;
— how things are arranged around us;
— how just by using physical and chemical laws we can change the world around us.

In 2020 we helped teachers to hold an Engineering Week in 751 schools, in 2021 - in 2043 schools. In 2022 we will be hold an Engineering Week too.

We are also permanently looking and creating new instruments for new ways to interest students in engineering like our new book "Ours. The Engineering History of Ukraine" that telling stories about 50 Ukrainian engineers and inventors (men and women), whose inventions have changed the world 100−200 years ago and whose scientific ideas impressed everyone and accelerated the development of world science. Now we preparing to create online-course about methods of teaching invention in schools.

Engineering is chocolate bubbles and roller coasters, the treatment of complex diseases and the conquest of space - a process in which theoretical science acquires practical application. It is engineering that makes our lives the way they are.
Unfortunately, most students, especially girls, do not even consider themselves part of the engineering community because they believe they do not have the appropriate skills.

That's why we help teachers turn the school, at least for a week, into make-up and research labs to immerse students in the world of science and technology, to show who they really are and to give them a touch.

Despite the rapid development of science in the world, the introduction of new technologies, and the constantly growing demand for specialists in STEM, the engineering profession remains unpopular in Ukraine. The competition for engineering majors at Ukrainian universities is on average 3 times lower than that for economic and managerial majors. Meanwhile, it is the quality engineering training that drives the emergence of innovation in the country. By promoting engineering, we create conditions for the schoolchildren’s harmonious development, regardless of gender, social origin, or state of health.

Considering that our metodics and activities are aimed at developing creativity and stimulating chain-like thinking, this learning approach will contribute to increasing student chances for better jobs in the future. Furthermore, our focus on equality and inclusion makes the program adaptable to the needs of children and students both with and without disabilities. This means, students with special educational needs whose teachers use of the project activities, will strongly benefit from the project.
Such a transformation will be the key to Ukraine’s economic development.

The problem we are trying to solve:

"When I was a student, I loved math and physics and loved to create different constructs. I thought that STEM (though, I didn't know the word then) is interesting for many other students too. But when I became an adult I saw that many students are afraid of mathematics, physics, chemistry, because they think that they will not succeed. I want that they stop afraid and will understand that STEM is like adventure – exciting and you never know what will happen as a result. I understand that not all students will be engineers or scientists, but I hope that thanks to our project, they will good know what it is and in the future will make conscious choices.

Also I believe that education must be inclusive. I saw how it works when a was in US (Open World program). In Ukraine I have familiars who are great specialists despite what they have disability. And I know that in a most setuations my familiars became great specialists not thanks to school programs and teachers. It is wrong, because school's program must helping.

Last two years we work with Sustainable Development Goals, and our projects can help achieve them:

Goal 4. Ensure inclusive equitable education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all

Goal 8. Promote sustained, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all

Goal 9. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive sustainable industrialization, and foster innovation

Goal 17. Strengthen the means of implementing and revitalizing the global partnership for sustainable development."

"Every year, Ukrainian students achieve outstanding results by representing the country in world-class Olympiads and competitions: the International Turing Competition (Turing Machine) (Italy), the Innovation Challenge Forum (Qatar), the International Festival of Engineering Sciences and Technologies, I-FEST (Tunisia), International Brain Bee and so on. In contrast, the overall basic level of mastery of exact and natural sciences is rapidly declining - the PISA results in mathematics published in 2019 showed that 36% of Ukrainian students failed to demonstrate a basic level of knowledge in mathematics. This year, according to the Ukrainian Center for Educational Quality Assessment, a record 31.11% of external evaluation participants passed / failed the mathematics threshold. From year to year we produce thousands of young people whose level of knowledge will be a significant obstacle to their professional and self-realization and only a small part of those who can innovate, but who are more likely to leave the country looking for better conditions to apply their knowledge. To remedy the situation, the education system needs comprehensive solutions based on the experience of other successful education systems, as well as on its own history of innovation."

The solution we are proposing:

"We show what engineering really is, bypassing complex definitions and formulas that students are often afraid of, because we believe that interest should arise first, and then it should be fueled by knowledge. Working in this format, teachers rediscover their students - they see that girls are no less capable of working on STEM projects than boys, that those who have low grades are prone to engineering, that those who are usually bored in class, are active . After the first Engineering Week, when 751 schools (136,329 students and 4,774 teachers) took part in it, 60% Teachers noted in the reports that they plan to use tasks developed by us and similar in their daily work throughout the year as learning models during lessons, the basis of fun activities during breaks and exercises to train teamwork skills. After the second Engineering Week (2,043 schools - 278,280 students, including 3,858 students with special educational needs and 8,383 teachers) 96.5% of teachers decided to use the proposed engineering tasks, further - in the educational process. And we see that in these schools teaching is becoming more practical. After the end of the Engineering Week, teachers continue to look for new formats so as not to lose the interest they saw. We also feel the support of the Institute for Modernization of Educational Content, which promotes Engineering Week and encourages teachers to do so, and the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine, which supports us with information and through which more and more schools participate in Engineering Week every year."

Step by step we will be able to change approaches to teaching in schools. We will be able to make engineering specialties popular again and more graduates will choose the appropriate universities to enter. All students will be able to try their hand at engineering, without exception, we will stop segregation by gender or health. All students will have a chance to master STEM both for their own success and for the competitiveness of the state.

"We have already spent two Engineering Weeks. Now we are preparing for the next Engineering Week, which will be based on the stories of Ukrainian engineers and inventors that we have collected for our book “Ours. Engineering History of Ukraine ”, because we want to show that the creation of innovations is a tradition for Ukrainians and thus inspire them to new inventions. And also, because we see that in many schools Engineering Weeks have given impetus to the creation of engineering and invention circles, we want to prepare this year for the launch of a nine-month invention curriculum to provide even more opportunities to develop students' engineering potential and present results worldwide levels."

What success looks like for us:

"In the short term, we measure success by increasing the number of schools participating in our activities. At the same time, we are assessing whether the Engineering Weeks will continue to be held by those who are doing so for the first time and whether they are evaluating the materials we offer as new tools. And also what percentage of new schools join us - that is, whether the range of schools interested in the development of engineering is expanding. We also evaluate the changes in the format of teachers' work that we observe during the year through our surveys. In the longer term, we would consider it a success to increase the number of points that students receive from the External Independent Assessment in schools that participate regularly in our projects. And an increase in the number of entrants to these schools who choose to enroll in engineering, including a separate assessment of the increase in this number among girls and students with special educational needs.

We receive reports from teachers in which they, in the format of open answers, tell about their observations of students' work. Most often, they themselves note that the Engineering Week helps to disprove the stereotypical notion of the abilities of certain students. Also, we compare the questionnaires sent by teachers of the same schools in different years, analyze how many schools were opened engineering or inventive circles. We also sometimes interview students themselves, but we are currently working to improve this method of obtaining information, as these online questionnaires, although anonymous, are currently distributed to students by teachers and we cannot be sure that students' answers are complete independent."

Where we are are based:

Kyiv, Ukraine

Funding we are applying for:

$14,000 - $15,000 per year

How this funding will help us achieve our goals:

We want to use the funds to develop and create an online course for teachers to master the methodology of teaching a nine-month curriculum for the development of inventive skills in students and supporting the implementation of this course in schools. This will help us enable schools to develop students' engineering potential throughout the year. The program has already been piloted in several schools and it has given good results, so we strive to scale it.

How this funding will strengthen our group:

As our goal is to create a system of projects that will help to promote engineering and create various opportunities for students to become part of the engineering environment, the implementation of this project will give us, from a strategic point of view, closer to this goal, and from an organizational point of view. Currently, part of the team works in the organization in the format of partial involvement and we are actively working to attract sufficient funding to implement all our plans, which will allow the team to work on an ongoing basis and focus solely on our goals and objectives. Working together most of the time, we reinforce each other, immerse ourselves deeper in the problem and can find better ways to solve it.

How we gain by being a Spark Fund partner:

In addition to supporting the development of our projects, we are interested in developing as a global community. For example, last year we received a request to organize and hold an Engineering Week in Belarus (several Belarusian schools independently translated our teaching materials and held an Engineering Week). At present, we do not have the necessary resources and skills to develop this area, so it would be very useful for us to receive such mentoring. We also plan to work with university students in the future, creating better opportunities for them to do internships, so we would be interested to know about such an experience, if you have it or organizations with which you work. Another area and organization we are watching is Engineers Without Borders. As you can see, we have a lot of ideas and we would need consultations to accumulate the experience of 2019-2021 and 2022 (for which the operational plan has already been developed) to develop a quality strategic plan for 2023-2025.

How we would like to spend a grant through the Spark Fund:

"We want to use money to the part of the project, developed by the NGO Pro.Pro.Lab in cooperation with Invention Convention Ukraine aims to incorporate modern American practices into the Ukrainian educational process through the scaling of the Invention Convention nine-month curriculum in schools. It is based on the STEMIE approach, which combines traditional science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) with invention and entrepreneurship. Based on the successful piloting experience of the program in 12 schools, conducted in 2019, we plan to implement it throughout the country. To this end, the project will develop and launch an online course for educators on the EdEra platform. It will cover STEMIE teaching methods, explain the benefits of inventive education, and serve as a kind of roadmap in preparation for participation in National and International Congresses of Inventors. The speakers of the course will be the brightest representatives of STEMIE practices - makers, inventors, and technological innovators. The lectures will be supplemented by a series of practical and theoretical tasks for better mastering the material and the methodology. Thanks to cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine, certificates for teachers who successfully complete the course can be credited as advanced training. For this part of the project we want to use money in 2022.

In addition to the online course in 2022/2023 educational year, the project will develop a teacher support system that will include group mentoring and horizontal exchange of experiences on a weekly basis (MasterMind Groups), guest visits of inventors and tech entrepreneurs selected to scale the school, and a three-day practical workshop on invention for educators. To directly motivate the students to innovate, the project team will hold a National Congress of Inventors, and 5 best teams at the congress will receive methodological and mentoring support from experienced professionals in preparation for international competitions – Invention Convention 2022 Globals and Invent Future Global. To ensure the sustainability of the project, the results of scaling STEMIE practices will be presented to the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine (MES) and the Institute for Modernization of Educational Content (IMEC) to include an online course and Invention Convention program in guidelines for STEM education in general, secondary and extracurricular education. The key platform for disseminating Invention Convention practices will be Engineering Week The implementation of the project will provide an opportunity to start developing a powerful ecosystem within the country which is in line with the Concept for the Development of STEM Education until 2027, approved by the Ministry of Education and Science. It will bring together thousands of schools and enable educators to gain new knowledge and tools to implement STEM and STEMIE techniques on an ongoing basis, improving their skills. It will also enable teachers to adapt the format of involvement in the invention to the basic level of training and interests of their students."

Our Annual Income:

$ 59 500

Our Organization Structure:

"In our organization 5 persons work and we also invite needed specialists for specific projects. Global and strategic decisions make these 5 people — we have regular online or, when this possible, offline meetings. Now preparing for the strategic session. We also have two strategic consultants, in the next year we plan to form a Supervisory Board. But in each project we have people responsible for the directions and the final decisions are made by those responsible. Or we make such decisions by discussion between those responsible, if the decision in one direction will affect another direction. The base of our decisions often is an analysis teacher's reports or student's questionnaires."

"Our 5 person are:

Olena Shulga (I'm) — Head of this organization and Project manager

Mykola Kolesnik — Art-Director

Olga Myrovich — Monitoring & evaluation expert

Anna Derevyanko — Specialist in Methodology

Tatyana Melnichenko — Accountant

We have a defined organization mission, goals and objectives. When we decide how to achieve them, we trust each other's experience and rely on the analysis that each of us conducts in our field. When discussing options, we choose the best."

"No, we are not youth-led but we are youth-focused organization. Through teachers we work with students from middle and high school. We think that is very important to show students their abilities before school graduation. This learning approach will contribute to increasing their chances for better jobs in the future. Ukraine is looking for ways to develop the IT sector, high technology, startups, access to world markets. This requires specialists with skills that we help them develop: creative and logical thinking of students, developing entrepreneurial skills, ingenuity, problem solving. Such students are active citizens in the future."

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