2014 saw the end of the INQUIRE project, a European Union funded project which aimed to reinvigorate inquiry-based science education (IBSE) in formal and informal education systems (specifically Learning Outside the Classroom sites) throughout Europe.
You can download the INQUIRE publications, find education resources and more information about the project on the INQUIRE website.
Designed to reflect how students actually learn, IBSE also engages them in the process of scientific inquiry. Increasingly it is seen as key to developing their scientific literacy, enhancing their understanding of scientific concepts and heightening their appreciation of how science works.
Whereas traditional teaching methods have failed to engage many students, especially in developed countries, IBSE offers outstanding opportunities for effective and enjoyable teaching and learning. It provides stimulating environments for students to explore their learning in authentic situations.
Knowledge is built through testing ideas, discussion with teachers and peers, and direct interaction with scientific phenomena. In fostering a practical, hands-on approach, IBSE can lead to a 'minds-on¹ comprehension of scientific concepts.
The objectives of INQUIRE were:
- To introduce IBSE in formal and informal settings on a large scale
- To snowball best practice pedagogical approaches through practitioner training
- To establish a key network of educators, teachers, teacher trainers and researchers for the revival of IBSE
- To offer front-line support to teachers and informal educators to practice IBSE
- To use IBSE to engage young people in a scientific discourse about biodiversity conservation and climate change
- To bridge the gap between educational researchers and practitioners
- To support the development of European wide standards for evaluating formal and informal education programmes
- To make the case for inquiry and context based learning
- To examine the implementation of curriculum based innovations
- To stimulate and motivate science learning from the earliest stage
- To increase self-confidence in girls to study science
The project was coordinated by Innsbruck University Botanic Garden with support from Botanic Gardens Conservation International, INQUIRE involved 17 partners in 11 countries. Over the 5 year project training courses for LoTC educators in inquiry-based learning methods, research methodology and assessment techniques were developed as well as a series of Train the Trainer courses to ensure the sustainability of the project beuond the end of the funding.
Between 5th September 2011 and 19th October 2012, the partners ran 13 pilot INQUIRE courses. These courses where attended by, a total of 250 participants from various professional backgrounds. Following the success of this, between September, 2012 and October, 2013, 15 INQUIRE courses were run. These courses were attended by, a total of 326 participants. This was supported by the mentoring, promotion and global dissemination, aided by the Community of Practice which was established.
The subject content of the courses focussed on the major global issues of the 21st Century: biodiversity loss and climate change and will built on already published teaching resources as well as newly developed. Botanic gardens and other LOtC institutions are wonderful learning sites for children and adults alike. Engaging these sites in offering teacher training courses in IBSE techniques has proved an effective way to motivate teachers to implement inquiry learning in classrooms, with the majority of the partners continuing to use the skills gained during the project and many continuing to offer the courses.
If you would like to find further information about the INQUIRE course visit http://www.inquirebotany.org/
Partners at the Inaugural meeting of the INQUIRE project, Brussels, 20-21 January 2011
The INQUIRE project kicked off with the partners’ inaugural meeting which took place in Brussels, 20 – 21 January 2011 at the National Botanic Garden of Belgium. The meeting was a good opportunity for the partners to meet each other, and discuss issues such as the different phases of the project, possible models for the training courses that will be appropriate for each country, dissemination activities, the development of ethical guidelines, and next steps. Workshops of IBSE were also organised by Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, education staff to exemplify how IBSE can be implemented in practice.
IBSE workshop during the Inaugural meeting
Guided tour at the National Botanic Garden of Belgium, Brussels, 20 – 21/01/2011
List of INQUIRE Partners:
1. University of Innsbruck, Institute of Botany, Austria
2. Botanic Gardens Conservation International, U.K.
3. King´s College London, U.K.
4. Museo Tridentino di Science Naturali, Trento, Italy
5. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, U.K.
6. Royal Botanic Garden, Madrid, Spain
7. University of Bremen, Institute of Biology Education, Germany
8. University Botanic Gardens of University of Sofia, Bulgaria
9. National Botanic Garden of Belgium
10. Schulbiologiezentrum Hannover, Germany
11. Bordeaux Botanic Garden, France
12. University of Coimbra Botanic Garden, Portugal
13. Botanic Gardens of the M.V.Lomonosov Moscow State University, Russia
14. University of Oslo, Natural History Museum, Botanic Garden, Norway
15. Botanic Garden & Rhododendron-Park, Bremen, Germany
16. Royal Botanic Garden, Juan Carlos I, Spain
17. University of Lisbon, National Museum of Natural History, Botanic Garden, Portugal