European Learning Laboratory for the Life Sciences

Our inspiring educational experiences share the scientific discoveries of EMBL with young learners aged 10-19 years and teachers in Europe and beyond.

SySTEM 2020

SySTEM 2020 will focus on science learning outside the classroom, mapping the field across Europe, evaluating a number of transdisciplinary programmes to design best principles for educators in this field, and also examining individual learning ecologies by piloting self-evaluation tools for learners which will document science learning outside of the classroom. This study will map practices in 19 EU countries, including in-depth studies in 8 of these countries, covering learners between the ages of 9–20 years.

In this project ELLS (EMBL) collaborates as a linked-third party with 11 partners and 10 linked-third parties.

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Join the project at: #system2020


SySTEM 2020 has tasked itself with five primary objectives:

  • ASSESS – To generate a comprehensive overview of non-formal and informal science learning in Europe which contributes to the knowledge base of science with and for society at the level of individuals and organizations.
  • UNDERSTAND AND IDEATE – To involve stakeholders in identifying the main challenges concerning science learning outside classroom and to co-design ideas and concepts that support scientific literacy
  • DESIGN, DEVELOP AND EXECUTE – New tools and frameworks and practices for implementation in non-formal learning programmes.
  • REFLECT AND EVOLVE – To evaluate the success and learnings of the tools developed and improve their efficacy through an iterative design process.
  • ENGAGE AND INFORM – To disseminate keys findings of three years through research papers, conferences, workshops and engage with stakeholders and media to create feedback loops and strengthen science with and for society.


Connecting science learning outside the classroom

The SySTEM 2020 project aims to evolve STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) learning outside the classroom into a connected learning ecology, linking the different science learning experiences into mutually reinforcing complementary practices.

The relentless pace of technological and scientific development seen over the past decade is not set to slow down. The rapid changes are predicted to have a deep impact on traditional careers. The World Economic Forum predicts that 65% of todays’ school children will be holding jobs which don’t yet exist. The development of a scientifically informed and technologically proficient society is also becoming a priority. Hence, science education is not merely crucial for the future of research but helps foster a society which can discern critically the available scientific news, differentiate between credible and “alternative” facts and make informed decisions. These skills will support citizens in becoming creative and flexible thinkers who will contribute to a smart, sustainable and inclusive growth of Europe.

To achieve this, SySTEM 2020 will be focusing on understanding and mapping the impact of science learning in non-formal* and informal** settings on young people from 9-20 years old. Both research and practice indicate that these years encompass the greatest level of engagement with non-formal learning spaces and, in addition, span a period when self-directed learning through informal learning contexts, especially online content, is highest. It is our proposition that a better understanding of the points of interaction of science learning within this age group and the development of best practice tools to enable non-formal practitioners in this space will have the best long-term impact on the level of scientific literacy, science capital and engagement amongst Europe’s future decision makers.

You can find more information on adding your organisation to the map here.

*Non-formal learning

Learning which is embedded in planned activities but not always explicitly designated as learning but contains an important learning element. Non-formal learning is intentional from a learners point of view. Such as learning which takes place in museums, science clubs, camps etc.

**Informal learning

Learning resulting from daily activities related to work, family or leisure. Informal learning is mostly unintentional from a learners point of view.

EMBL-ELLS’s role

EMBL-ELLS, is part of SySTEM 2020 as a linked third party. We are the projects node in Germany.

We promote the project within Germany and inspire at least 100 organizations providing non-formal STEAM education to become part of a resource which in total showcases at least 2200 such organizations across Europe. This resource provides a thorough and widespread overview of STEAM education outside the classroom and help design efficient local learning ecologies.

Through SySTEM 2020 around 60 young learners in Germany get a chance to become self-evaluators and help contribute to collecting research data. We have invited students who participate in STEAM learning outside the classroom to join the project. The students got a chance to individually, with our support, evaluate their own learning ecology. This data can help them understand the different ways in which they gain knowledge and the entire data set from hundreds of young learners across Europe will be analyzed to help design better connected learning ecologies which complement formal learning.

EMBL-ELLS is also involved in co-designing solutions to challenges which will be identified using the datasets gathered from the organizational level mapping and the individuals learning ecologies.

Learning ecology model


Project Partners

Project Partners

  1. Aalto University, Finland
  2. Ars Electronica Linz GMBH & Co KG, Austria
  3. Capital of Children, Denmark
  4. Centre for Promotion of Science, Serbia
  5. Centre for Social Innovation, Austria
  6. Ecsite, Belgium
  7. Kersnikova institute, Slovenia
  8. LATRA, Greece
  9. Museo Nazionale Scienza e Tecnologia Leonardo da Vinci, Italy
  10. Trinity College Dublin (Coordinator), Ireland
  11. Waag Society, The Netherlands
Linked Third Parties

Linked Third Parties

  1. European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Germany
  2. Raumschiff – the Maker Space for Astronomy, Switzerland
  3. Fundação da Juventude, Portugal
  4. Muzeiko Foundation, Bulgaria
  5. TRACES, France
  6. Science Gallery at Kings College London, United Kingdom
  7. uTesla, Czech Republic
  8. Flanders Technology International, Belgium
  9. Thessaloniki Science Center and Technology Museum NOESIS, Greece
  10. Tom Tits Experiment, Sweden
  11. Parque de las Ciencias Spain

Project key dates

Funding: SySTEM 2020 project is funded under European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement no. 788317.
Duration: 36 months
Start: 05/2018
End: 04/2021