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Chain Reaction: A Sustainable Approach to Inquiry Based Science Education

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An innovative approach for young people to experience the excitement and challenges of inquiry-based science education

An EU initiative provided secondary school students with relevant contexts and practical experience of scientific concepts to help boost interest, motivation and participation in science education.

Digital Economy
Society
Fundamental Research

There has been a decline in young people’s interest in science, potentially damaging the innovative capacity of the industry as well as research and innovation. The development of inquiry-based science education (IBSE) alongside active teaching and learning methods is helping students develop their understanding of, and interest in, scientific concepts. The EU-funded CHREACT (Chain reaction: A sustainable approach to inquiry based science education) project set out to implement such an approach. Project partners developed and applied IBSE through 12 participating countries. They delivered interactive and engaging IBSE professional development to teacher education professionals from each country using proven inquiry-based science resources originally called Earth and Universe Pupil Research Briefs (EUPRBs). These EUPRBs present realistic scenarios to reflect real-world professional science, support inquiry-based teaching and learning of science, and involve engaging topics designed to appeal to males and females. Participating teachers were briefed via a dedicated course in each partner country. Once participants were fully confident with the IBSE model and the provided resources (EUPRBs), they delivered a series of engaging and student-focused lessons that explored the research projects offered through the EUPRBs. Using critical thinking, reasoning and problem solving skills, students aged 14-16 worked together to research scientific scenarios. Their work was summarised in presentations shared at 36 national student celebration events over the three-year duration of the project. These annual events were held in each country and celebrated science and the work completed by the students. Presentations encouraged students to describe the inquiry procedures they applied and share findings, while being creative and imaginative in their demonstrations. The national events also engaged early-year science professionals and doctoral students who acted as role models for the students. They shared their work to inform and encourage students in considering a career in science-related fields. The practising scientists were recruited when the project began. Together with participating teachers, the scientists identified groups of students from each participating country to attend an international conference held in each of the three years. CHREACT reached over 1 600 students and 200 teachers, and expanded knowledge about the IBSE approach across continental Europe.

Keywords

Inquiry-based science education, IBSE, CHREACT, Earth and Universe Pupil Research Briefs

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