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Chain Reaction: A Sustainable Approach to Inquiry Based Science Education

Final Report Summary - CHREACT (Chain Reaction: A Sustainable Approach to Inquiry Based Science Education)

Executive Summary:
Chain Reaction established and delivered an Inquiry Based Science Education (IBSE) approach through twelve partner countries over a three-year period. The project provided interactive and engaging IBSE professional development to teacher education professionals from each participating nation using tried and tested inquiry based science resources originally called Earth and Universe Pupil Research Briefs (EUPRBs). These EUPRBs presented realistic scenarios to reflect real world professional science, support inquiry based teaching and learning of science and involve engaging topics designed to appeal to both genders.

The project model briefed participating teachers through a dedicated course in each partner country. Once fully confident with the IBSE model and the resources (EUPRBs) provided, the participating teachers delivered a series of exciting and student- focussed lessons which explored the research projects offered through the EUPRBs. Using critical thinking, reasoning and problem solving skills, students in the 14-16 age groups worked together to research scientific scenarios. Their work was summarised in presentations that were shared at national student celebration events. These annual national events took place in each partner country and celebrated science and the work completed by the students. The student presentations encouraged students to detail the inquiry processes they engaged in and share findings whilst being creative and imaginative through their presentations. The national events also engaged practising scientists (early year science professionals or PhD students) who acted as role models for the students and shared their work to inform and encourage young people to consider a career in science related fields. Practising scientists were recruited from local industry and research institutions early on in the project. National conferences were followed by an international conference which a number of students from each national conference were selected to attend. Acting in assessment teams with participating teachers, the role model scientists identified students to participate in the annual International Conference based on a set criteria.

Project Context and Objectives:
Chain Reaction was a three-year project funded by the European Commission. Its key aim was to develop Inquiry Based Science Education (IBSE) across twelve partner countries—United Kingdom, Italy, Slovakia, Turkey, Bulgaria, France, Slovenia, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Jordan, Georgia. The key underpinning element of the project was the development and deployment of interactive and engaging professional development for science teacher educators from each participating country. The science teacher educators professionals involved were introduced to ‘tried and tested’ inquiry-themed science resources and worked collaboratively with project members to gain a clear understanding of the philosophy and mechanisms involved in designing and facilitating a science classroom inquiry. Once fully cognisant in the use of the resources the science teacher educators, from each partner, designed and delivered a dedicated professional development course for participating science teachers. The specific nature of each professional development event varied from partner to partner but was consistent in its aim to develop participating teachers’ confidence and skills in using the resources with their science students. Following the professional development sessions in each country, science teachers were able to deliver a series of exciting inquiry-based sessions.

Students in the 14-16 age groups worked in project groups to research scientific scenarios using critical thinking, reasoning and problem solving skills. This inquiry approach enhanced the students’ understanding and awareness of scientific process and offered an insight into the practice of professional scientists. In an attempt to increase the impact of this element of the project we recruited ‘science role models’ (early year science professionals or PhD students) to support the work of the students in school and to act as conference chairs during national celebration events. Each role model was assigned a school to work with and, through negotiation with the participating science teacher, would plan a programme of support that would add to the student experience. Typically, a role model would support the development of student inquiries in the science classroom, deliver lectures and discussions about science and science careers, and attend national and international student celebration events.

Participating students’ work was summarized in presentations and shared at national student celebration events. These annual national events took place in each partner country and celebrated science and the work completed by the students. The student presentations encourage students to detail the inquiry processes they engaged in and share findings whilst being creative and imaginative through their presentations. A significant feature of the structure of the celebration events was that they were organised to reflect typical scientific research conferences in an attempt to provide participating students with an understanding of how professional scientists communicate their work. So, conference programmes were produced that contained abstracts for each presentation, names of presenters and an area for poster presentations was designated. Students engaged in presentations of no more than ten minutes with a further five minutes given for audience questions. During breaks, students were encouraged to discuss the work presented with their peers and to engage with the wider audience.

Three annual ‘Express Yourself’ Conferences were held at the end of each year of the project and were hosted by—Sheffield Hallam University (year one), Teacher Education University, Heidelberg (year two), and the University of Plovdiv (year three). These international conferences were also structured to reflect a professional science conference and engaged one group of students from each participating country (twelve presentations).

As the Chain Reaction model was cyclical we were able to recruit new teachers from different schools in an attempt to ensure a large number of teachers and students were able to participate and thus, influenced a significant number of science teachers, students and school science departments. A key legacy of the Chain Reaction project is a strong and sustainable IBSE framework for both teacher educators and science teachers. Science teachers are able to build their knowledge and skills, learning independently as well as being part of a wider teacher network which, through the project website and international Express Yourself conferences, allows and encourages science teachers from each participating country to communicate and share ideas and experiences.

Project Results:
Chain Reaction involved 36 national student conferences. The total number of participants for all conferences were:
1,666 students
202 teachers
48 role models
26 other participants
The project also involved 3 international student conferences held at: Sheffield Hallam University, University of Education, Heidelberg and University of Plovdiv,Bulgaria. The total number of participants for all 3 international conferences were:
365 Students
112 teachers
6 role models
230 other participants
The Chain Reaction Project aimed to train teachers in how to develop and implement IBSE and EUPRBs. Each participating school was identified by the PMB and the TB and two science teachers from each school attended a training session with the TB. The location of the training was within the partner’s institution. At the training session each teacher was introduced in full to the concepts behind IBSE, Chain Reaction and to the EUPRBs. The training also included sessions on preparing students for conferences. This included information about writing research papers based on the investigations completed within the EUPRBs and issues relating to confident public speaking.

The TB provided ongoing support for all participating teachers after training was completed. This included support for in-school delivery with students, colleague workshops and conference preparation and all additional training materials designed by the TB were added to the member state website so that teachers could easily access them at a later date. The TB also visited the participating schools as necessary to support teachers in delivering the materials and approaches.

The IBSE Training
The training was delivered at a national level by the Technical Board (TB) of each partner state. Timescales and duration for training have been the responsibility of the individual partners. The training was comprehensive among all the partners in terms of teaching how to use the materials provided, background to the IBSE approach, and introducing the materials effectively to help teachers to support the development of students' inquiry skills.

The training also sought to create an environment for teachers to engage in IBSE as learner and/or facilitator which was deemed necessary for them to effectively implement IBSE in their own teaching.

A range of examples are set out below to highlight how training sessions were designed and delivered by the partners:

In Italy over the course of the three year project the teacher training was delivered as follows:

• YEAR 1: 9 workshops of approximately 3 hours each, from October 2013 to January 2014
• YEAR 2: 9 workshops of approximately 3 hours each, from November 2014 to January 2015
• YEAR 3: 7 workshops of approximately 3 hours each, from October to December 2015

During the workshops, teachers were introduced to scientific inquiry through an “experimental” approach. Teachers were engaged in the same activities as their students. In small groups they read the materials, designed a suitable research project, performed the experiments, and analyzed the data. This approach enabled them to more easily recognize possible difficulties their students were encountering when engaging in their projects. In this phase, seven EUPRBs were presented to them. The University staff helped the teacher in implementing the experiment and showed how to integrate the IBSE approach in their practice.

In Slovakia the briefing programme consisted of three one-day sessions held in the Faculty of Natural Sciences Matej Bel University Banská Bystrica. The sessions ran as follows:

• Session 1. Initial teacher briefing,
• Session 2. Networking meeting of teachers,
• Session 3. Final evaluation meeting.

These sessions were supplemented by the various types of ongoing support during the in-school delivery phase and in the preparatory time for the conference – consultations by email, by phone, visits of TBs and role models at schools, visits of individual school classes and teachers at the Faculty etc.

In Greece the briefing consisted of four sessions:
a. Description of Chain Reaction objectives and 3-year plan
b. Lecture on IBSE
c. Presentation of four EUPRBs and discussion of implementation issues or problems
d. Workshop: How to design my own IBSE materials from scratch. In this session teachers in groups designed a preliminary plan of a project on Ozone. Then the TB members would present participants teachers with the respective EUPRB. The main objective of this session is to make all teachers realise that they are free to design or adapt their own material based on the IBSE model if they wish and increase overall teacher confidence
The main objective was to introduce the content and methodology of EUPRBs and create a bank of interested teachers willing and eager to implement the material (even if they were not selected to take part in the Chain reaction project due to number restrictions or other parameters).
Following dissemination, briefing and training event, teacher educators had four two-weekly meetings with the participants on the onset, followed by three monthly meetings:
• designing and adapting the material
• Providing support regarding student presentation skills/ web log design skills/ research paper writing skills.
• Organising a visit by a Young scientist
• Organising teacher get-togethers
• Assessing progress

In Ireland the first briefing took place with a one day workshop held in early October. The second briefing took place in February with a one day workshop. Both briefing sessions were held at the University of Limerick. In total, the workshops last two full days. The workshops begin by teachers sharing what they believe inquiry to look like in practice.

Day One
Working in groups, teachers discussed what they think inquiry is and what it looks like; from the perspective of the teacher and the student. Teachers reflected on the elements of inquiry that they are already implementing in their classrooms as well as features of inquiry that they would like to implement in future teaching. This gathered evidence of existing practice and allowed the teachers to reflect on improvements/developments that they could make to their own professional practice. Educational theory is constituted by the practitioners’ (teachers’) public description and explanations of their own practice (Whitehead 1989).
Teachers, in pairs, discussed the questions “How do you ‘do’ scientific inquiry in your teaching?” and “What does the inquiring student look like?” in order to create a shared understanding of what inquiry is understood to mean. Teachers placed their thoughts on post it notes that were then placed on the board. These became the talking point for discussion and debate. This process allowed for the co-construction of shared meaning for IBSE between all teachers.
The next part of the workshop focuses on vocalizing the teachers concerns and perceived barriers inhibiting their practice of IBSE in the classroom
All of the above were mapped out on mind maps and posters and are available in the workshop summary report attached.

After discussing their understanding of IBSE and identifying their concerns about implementing IBSE, the professional learning community (PLC) outlined their expectations for Chain Reaction 2015-16.
The PLC expectations for 2015-16:
• To make Science fun, engaging and exciting, change pupils’ expectations of Science class-make Science class more like real Science
• Expectation of Support: from the UL Technical Board and school structures (management and peers)
• The UL Technical Board will make arrangements with each school / teacher to visit the schools to facilitate with PRB development and to observe and record the PRB implementation. Teachers also expect support from peers and management with their schools in the development and implementation of the PRBs.
• To be recognised for participation and learning in this CPD
• To develop and improve practice: learn practical pedagogies and develop new skills by being open to new ideas and fresh approaches.
• To support each other on the Edmodo forum

They then engaged in a lesson study using the Green Light PRB. The purpose of a lesson study is to allow teachers to experience what students may be experiencing within the classroom. It puts the teachers into the role of the student to understand the possible frustrations, fears and eventual understanding that students may experience. There was then a de-brief after the lesson study to understand the teachers thoughts on the experience. This was portrayed on a mind map and is attached in the summary report from the workshop.

The end of the day focuses on preparing the teachers to bring their newly developed understanding of IBSE back into the classroom. The day also looks at additional teaching methodologies that can be used in line with inquiry, e.g. the Jigsaw method (which they experienced in the lesson study the day before) and the use of concept maps (they were given a PowerPoint presentation on this).

Day Two
This day began by having the teachers reflect on the inquiry experience, in terms of understanding what they did in the classroom and what was the nature of students learning. Next the workshop looked at the new Junior Cycle Specification, which is being disseminated in Ireland in September and looked specifically on how the inquiry experience aligns with the new Specification. After this a presentation was given on the 5 e model of inquiry and more specifically on the “engage” feature of the 5 E model. With this, members of the TB showed demonstrations which it is considered can help to “engage” students in the inquiry experience. The workshop then moved on to showing the teachers another pedagogical strategy called assertive questioning that can be used with inquiry. The workshop ended with a reflection on Inquiry- What are the constraints? What does the Inquiring Teacher/ Inquiring Student look like. The PowerPoints on this from the first workshop will be used as a guide to compare the teachers new believes.

All of the teachers participating in the Chain Reaction project required some form of ongoing support from the TB. This varied from partner to partner. Some examples are included below:

In the UK participating teachers attended an initial briefing twilight session (3 hours) which introduced them to the concept of inquiry in the science classroom in an attempt to situate the Chain Reaction approach in a wider context. Through an interactive session teachers discussed and debated the concept and related their experiences of it in their classroom to the wider group. Following this discussion, the teachers were introduced to the briefs and given time to digest the material, to ask questions and formulate draft plans to build upon back in their schools. Teachers were also able to sample some simple experimental work in labs to give them a flavour of what might be possible.

The Tb offered support via visits, and also on the telephone as necessary. The Project managers and the coordinator also visited schools to give advice and guidance.

The level of support needed was generally quite low as teachers in the UK are reasonably familiar with IBSE, although very few use it. More support was needed for preparation for the National and international conferences, in terms of the format of posters, and the content of presentations as teachers were less likely to be familiar with these types of events.

In Italy teachers there was a requirement for full support in implementing the proposed EUPRBs. The main reason is that when implementing IBSE approaches teachers:
• found significant differences with their usual teacher-centred practice in implementing them
• held contradictory beliefs with respect to inquiry pedagogy
• had not previously experienced this approach
Because of this significant support was given to teachers in school which included regular visits from TB members and role models.

In Slovakia the TB offered the teachers various types of ongoing support – consultation by email, by phone, school visits and role models at schools etc. The level of support needed was dependant on individual teachers and the selected EUPRB. Most of the teachers were very experienced, enthusiastic and creative. Project members used their expertise in the following project year during the initial briefing of the next cohort of teachers and during the conference. But even these experienced teachers were keen to invite role models and TBs to work with students as they found this aspect very motivating and helpful to both themselves and their students.

In Bulgaria the teachers had little experience on how to conduct IBSE and, therefore, needed their training to focus on this element. Participating teachers needed support and advice with which pedagogical approaches they could use with students in their inquiry classrooms. At first their reaction was fear and uncertainty as to whether the students would do well with their tasks. However, the teachers were impressed with the student’s engagement and in the course of the work the teachers realized that their role as facilitators and advisers was highly effective in terms of student motivation and achievement.

In France inquiry approaches are relatively common and teachers did not require as much support. Therefore, the TB organized only 2 training sessions with teachers. The main needs of the teachers focused on how to set up EUPRBs. Some case studies based on the previous year's data was also used to help teachers improve their practice.

In Slovenia the teachers required significant support to understand and deliver IBSE as it is a pedagogical approach that they are not familiar with. Teachers also required professional support from the TB team regarding the EUPRBs content. Most of the teachers were not familiar with the EUPRBs content. Because of this, regular visits and electronic contact was made with participating teachers to provide necessary support and information.

In Germany most teachers already had a good understanding of inquiry and inquiry based science education and teaching. Therefore, questions mostly related to the implementation of the EUPRBs into the general context of teaching during school time which was difficult because of the structure of the German science curricula.

In Georgia teachers required support on how to implement IBSE in the classrooms. They also needed help on how to develop inquiry projects with the students, which pedagogical approaches they could use with the students, and how to prepare the materials.
Georgian teachers do not have much experience with IBSE activities although a new national curriculum in science, which is based on inquiry, began in 2006-2007. Teachers need professional development and support in the implementation of IBSE in their classrooms. Therefore, a series of short sessions with participating teachers were arranged (5 x 2 hour sessions). These took place at both the university and schools and included modelling approaches. Progress visits were also made.

Some of the ongoing teacher support provided by the PMB and TB took the form of school visits before, during and after the in-school activities. Once again the frequency, length and content of these visits varied across the consortium:

In the UK Once teachers had confirmed their plan a number of visits took place from project members. Firstly, members of the PMB visited the schools early during their planning and/or delivery phase. This visit had a number of purposes:
• to provide identify if any further support was needed by the teachers and students to carry out their inquiry projects
• to reinforce the philosophy of the project
• to monitor progress
A second visit was organised with the schools by members of TB to support the teachers and students working towards the end of their projects and provide any support necessary.

A final information session was held prior to the national conferences each year. These took part at SHU and were designed to gain feedback from teachers regarding their experiences and to provide information about participation in the national conferences. Additional support was offered to schools who were identified to participate in international conferences and included developing students work and presentations further, presentations skills, and pragmatic support for travel arrangements.

On average, the Italian TB observed each teacher at least two times in their classroom (from 4 to 10 hours). The teachers requested the TB to be present at the beginning of the activities to support the introduction of the project to the students. Generally, during the first visit, the TB helped the teachers in managing the classroom activities, and recorded with a video camera what was going on in order to provide a tool for reflection and discussion. During the second visit the teachers took the lead.

In Slovakia there were 22 visits to the participating schools during three year project. In most cases the role-models or TBs gave an introductory talk to students and the teachers focused on the selected EUPRB.
The visits to schools were supplemented by 10 visits by the students and teachers to the Faculty of natural sciences at the University. They came for a lecture, or to complete an experiment at the Chemistry labs.

For Bulgaria different schools and different teachers needed a varied number of visits. The minimum number of visits was two; however, there were some teachers who required more attention. Therefore the TB visited them more than 5 times.
In the second and third year of the project, teachers participated in the network and helped each other by using the suggestions given by the participating teachers from the previous years.

In Germany each school was visited at least once during the project phase, however, the majority of schools were visited a second, third or fourth time.
During their visit at school, the Chain Reaction team members would ask the teacher how the project was going and how the students were doing with their research. They ask about the motivation of the students and if there were any problems.

The Chain Reaction project was designed to follow a cyclical model that repeated a yearly programme three times over the course of its lifetime. It was designed in this way to ensure that the experiences of one year - both positive and negative - could be used to inform the following year and allow the project to develop and improve. As such, it was anticipated that the teacher briefings would change and develop based on both formal and informal feedback provided by both the teachers involved and the TB themselves. Adaptations were encouraged to ensure that the briefing materials and content met the needs at a national and local level. All developmental delivery changes were shared as best practice across the consortium so that others could choose to adopt them when relevant to their own context.

In the UK the briefing programme started out with quite formal sessions in year 1, however, over time developed into a more informal daylong event where teachers were encouraged to speak about and share their experiences of IBSE, possible barriers and how the project could be implemented in school. While there was a small amount on hands on work, the majority of the discussions were more theoretical initially based around the nature and process of scientific thinking. Links between the national curriculum and IBSE were explored with particular focus on asking questions and collaboration. The teachers were then introduced to the EUPRBs and the Chain Reaction model, and were asked to discuss which briefs appealed to them and how they might use them in the classroom.

Teachers were also introduced to the concept of the national and international conferences and how they work, and the expectations of the events in terms of presentations and posters.

In Slovakia the briefing programme was redesigned for the new groups of teachers in Year 2 and 3 according to experience and good practice learned from other partners, as well as with a respect to the feedback gained from the first cohort of teachers.

In Year 2 a transfer of knowledge and experience between previous and new project schools became a new part of the programme. They invited one student team – a participant of both national and international conferences – together with their teacher to share their experience with a new cohort of teachers.

In France the EUPRBs were tested in groups and testimonies from the previous year's teachers were added to the briefing schedule.
In the first year, after the initial briefing, a face-to-face group analysis of practices was organised. In the second year, this additional briefing and analysis took place through a Skype meeting. In the third year, the analysis was dropped as teachers found it too time-consuming and preferred phone and e-mail exchanges.

In Germany the initial briefings in the first year went very well, so there was no need to change the approach and the activities. However, from the second year the TB added a second teacher briefing at the University, and increased the number of visits in schools. The teachers appreciated these visits, mentioning that it motivates the students and themselves.

In Greece during year 1, briefing was more prescriptive with support material that teachers could use for at least a month regardless of their selected EUPRB. In year 2, they allowed for more teacher-teacher collaboration and peer discussions and there was more flexibility regarding teacher actions. In year 3, the TB introduced the online open course at UOC on IBSE framework, teaching methodology and teacher challenges as a form of formal reference point and resource, which facilitated even more flexible and targeted involvement regarding teacher needs and support.
Teachers reported using the website regularly to find supplementary material. They also reported using the online course resources.

In Ireland the first briefing session used to run over 2 days however due to the fact that the teachers could not come a second day, for year 3 the first briefing session was reduced down to one day and one of the TB followed up with teachers in the school. Also year 3 saw an additional focus on alternative methodologies that could be used in line with scientific inquiry.

Finally, a inquiry 'tool kit' was produced by the consortium which is accessible on the project website to any teachers interested in using the approach. The toolkit involves a step by step guide to inquiry and resources to support teachers delivery.

Potential Impact:
Perhaps the most significant dissemination and impact event held by the Chain Reaction project was the Teacher workshop held in Plovdiv, Bulgaria on 10th May 2016.
This event was first proposed to the consortium at the PMB held on 15-16th October 2015 in Tbilisi, Georgia (see the deliverable report on the PMB_Georgia_Oct15_V1 - relating to this meeting for further information), as part of the final Chain Reaction International Conference in Plovdiv in May 2016.
The proposed workshop had a number of aims
• to enable teacher networking across and within partner countries and to form international links
• to enable the teachers to share experiences, best practice etc.
• to further enhance and deepen the learning and experience of IBSE gained as part of Chain Reaction
All members agreed that the workshop was a good idea and stated that they would be able to fund the event, and Plovdiv University agreed that it would host the event as part of the international conference. As this event was not included as part of the DoW the Consortium sought the approval of the PO which was granted. Planning took place over the intervening months.
The workshop was run by representatives from three partners, plus Stuart Bevins as the Coordinator who introduced and closed the day. Marika Kapanadze from ISU, Georgia ran an ice breaker session where teachers were asked, in international groups to, to determine the weight of two coins using only a package of A4 paper and some metal paper clips. The groups fed back on how they had done this to the wider workshop.
The second session was run by Pat Moore from SHU, UK and followed on from a pre workshop task that was sent to all attendees. She asked the teachers, this time in country groups, to reflect upon their experiences, any changes to their practice as a result of their involvement in the project and the barriers that they had faced. They were then asked to write these down as a group. A final session on this at the end of the day asked them to think about how they would move forward from the project in the classroom given what they had learned.
The third session, run by Murat Gunel of TEDU, Turkey was an Inquiry session, where the teachers in international groups were asked to behave as learners in establishing questions, doing experiments and assessing results. More information on the sessions can be found in the Extra Materials.
The attendees at the event were teachers that participated in the Chain Reaction project over the three years of the project, plus partners - both PMB and Technical Board. Over 50 teachers attended the workshop. A booklet was produced that gave contact details for each teacher.
The reaction to the workshop was very positive. All the teachers engaged with the workshop and the sessions. Despite some concerns about language issues the group work in international groups did not in the main seem to present barriers to the discussions. Teachers used gestures and drawing to communicate to one another, for example. Teachers who lacked confidence in their English language skills were supported by a member of their country PMB.
Partners were asked to carry out brief interviews with the teachers that attended the workshop.
A number of themes can be identified from these:
1. The novelty of the international approach, it is unusual for teachers to be able to see how education and teaching works in other countries, and to be able to speak to their international peers.
2. The novelty of a hand-on practical approach to the teacher workshop
3. The connections built within and between the international teacher groups
4. Communication - while some found this a challenge it was clear that the international groups had managed to communicate via the IBSE tasks that they had been given
5. Taking away the approaches experienced - a number of teachers noted that they would try the practical tasks with their own students or indeed as CPD in their schools
6. A drive to change their practice in the light of the conference and the workshops
The feedback sheets generated from Pat Moore's session also revealed commonalities between countries for example:
Teacher educators at Sheffield Hallam University have embedded the training approach into their work with student teachers.
The Turkish partner delivered a series of workshops to interested participants that aimed:
• to disseminate Chain Reaction PRBs and classroom implementations to academicians, teachers, school principals, parents, people who are interested in education from the private sector, and representatives of educational NGOs in Turkey;
• to support professional development of Chain Reaction teachers via engaging them in one of the best national education conferences in Turkey
• to help Chain Reaction teachers to form a professional network as sharing and discussing their classroom experiences with the conference participants.

(1) Teachers
(2) Academicians
(3) School principals
(4) Representatives of educational NGOs
(5) Parents
(6) People who are interested in education from the private sector
The Greek partner developed an Online course on IBSE:
A new open access ten week online course designed by UoC in period 9 has been available online in period 10 (September 2015) and has been used for the training of the new science teachers. The course is based on the experience and the material created under the Chain Reaction project and is expected to encourage sustainability of IBSE practices.
It was aimed at Pre-service and in-service science teachers, teachers educators, and university students. The on line course has been awarded as one of the best among 2500 online and distance learning courses available in Greece in 2015/2016.
Online teacher forum hosted at Chain reaction Website
An open-access and visible by all Forum facilitated the interaction between all stakeholders. Role Models, teachers with previous relevant experience and Technical board members were involved and participated in a constructive way. Ideas and implementation options were discussed adopted or modified to suit each context.
Forum discussions were structured as follows:
1. Setting the scene and motivating students
2. Scientific method (what and how)
3. Facilitating student search of reliable internet resources
4. Group dynamics and assessment
5. Deciphering experimental method-(in)dependent variables/ control group
6. Presentation skills and communicating research
7. Implementation of EUPRBs

An open-access and visible by all on line Forum facilitated the interaction between all stakeholders. Role Models, teachers with previous relevant experience and Technical board members were involved and participated in a constructive way. Science teachers were invited to participate.
Immediate feedback from the participating teachers verified the value of using the Forum as a means of communication and coordination. Teachers overcame their initial hesitation to expose themselves and activities online and the whole venture was constructive and beneficial to all participants.
The impact of the online discussion was substantial especially for the first four weeks of the training programme as the conversations were read by other secondary teachers that are interested in running IBSE projects in the near future. In fact, up to date, the average number of views in each section of the Forum ranges from 2000 to 3000.
Impact on schools evidence through the UK and Slovakia partner:


Firstly, the project has had an impact on the participated schools – on teachers, students and on the whole school atmosphere – it was expressed by teachers at evaluation sessions at the end of each project year as well by teachers who were invited to an initial briefing of new cohorts of teachers.

Even within one school year teachers stated that they could see an increased motivation of students to learn science subjects. The teachers observed involvement of students with generally weak performance in science subjects—children with learning difficulties and low social conditions. The project motivated those students extremely positively according to participating teachers. The group project work has changed students who have been identified as ‘outsiders’ by the school to fully engaged members of the class community. Overall, the self-confidence of students has increased.

An impact of the project on one of the schools from the first group of schools was described at the talk of teacher Zuzana Polakova at Chain Reaction public seminar (Banská Bystrica, 5th February 2016): an interest of students to learn physics has increased significantly – the students choose optional physics lessons and physics themes for their projects, they are interested in participation at physics competitions and other physics activities, several students decided to study physics at university.


Participant teachers all reported positive impacts on themselves and their students as a result of their Chain Reaction involvement. Teachers particularly cited improved student self-confidence in speaking, asking questions and performing scientific tasks. The majority of teachers suggested that their own practice had benefitted from involvement and that they felt their repertoire of classroom techniques had been expanded. However, there is a caveat to this—a number of teachers felt that it will be difficult to deploy inquiry in their classrooms through normal curriculum work as inquiry projects tend to take up more time than they would normally allocate to specific topics and this would hinder curriculum coverage. Nevertheless, all teachers agreed that an inquiry approach to classroom science can greatly enhance students’ learning of scientific concepts, scientific skills and processes, and increase motivation and positive attitudes towards school science and the potential of scientific careers.

List of Websites:
Public website address:

Chain Reaction Partner websites:

Partner website address
Partner 1 (SHU)

Partner 2 (UNINA)

Partner 3 (UMB)

Partner 4 (TEDU)

Partner 5 (PU)

Partner 6 (CIFOP)

Partner 7 (UL)

Partner 8 (HUED)

Partner 9 (UOC):

Partner 10 (UOL)

Partner 11 (JSSR)

Partner 12 (ISU)