Ark of Inquiry: Bringing Responsible Research and Innovation in science education in Europe
Posted by Ellinogermaniki Agogi on 27 Apr 2016
Ellinogermaniki Agogi (EA), the RRI Tools Hub coordinator for Greece and Cyprus, is what you would expect from a typical school on one hand with numerous kids floating the school premises from nursery to high school, but on the other hand it hosts a very dynamic Research and Development department. Even in the period of the Greek crisis, the department is engaged in European funded projects in the field of science education, ICT, science communication, gamification and more.
Teachers in Estonia being engaged in Ark of Inquiry activities
One of the current projects that EA is involved in is called Ark of Inquiry and it is led by the University of Tartu in Estonia. The project begun in 2014 and it will end in 2018. Its ambitious goal is to raise awareness of pupils to Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) by promoting an interest in science through inquiry learning.
A group of 13 partners from 12 countries in Europe, ranging from Universities, Teachers’ Associations, schools, the Unesco office in Venice and even ministries of education is brought together in order to develop a web platform and a series of resources for teachers and pupils around Europe.
In the last months EA together with the other partners have been focusing on enriching the project platform with a number of activities that can be performed by teachers in schools and educators in informal learning premises. These inquiry based activities from around Europe are supported by a series of digital tools for teachers and a number of teacher training sessions around Europe.
One of the highlights of Ark of Inquiry is that it acknowledges that teachers might already have a number of activities they work with in their classes. What the project offers is a number of scenarios of how they can adapt these activities in order to make them more related to RRI, to gender inclusion, to improve their inquiry phases and more.
For example the activity ‘Craters on Earth and other planets’, that has been implemented in Greece and other countries, aims to introduce to students the concept of craters on Earth, on the moon and other planets, which are caused by the asteroids and comets. This activity that can be found in the Ark of Inquiry platform, was already developed as part of a previous project but is now part of the best practices of the project’s new platform. What is new is that with the scenarios offered it can become more gender inclusive, more RRI oriented, it can change level of difficulty, it can be used by a class as a tool for the awarding system and more.
The awarding system for the pupils has been designed to motivate them to improve their inquiry skills and to recognize their achievements. It has also developed instruments for evaluating learners´ inquiry skills and experiences in order to ensure progress and to provide pupils with meaningful feedback on their inquiry progress.
A community of teachers, researchers and teacher trainers has been forming in the 12 project countries and EA, that leads the task of communities building and the large implementation phase of the project has been very busy with these.
In order to prepare the platform all partners did focus groups with teachers gaining valuable feedback in various aspects of the projects.
Teachers in Greece for example, that have been introduced in the last years to the inquiry based approach, were eager to see the platform and learn more about what is what we call responsible research and innovation and how can they can relate it to their everyday work.
In the coming months Ark of Inquiry will hold a number of teacher trainings in Greece, in Estonia, Hungary, Cyprus, Italy, Austria, Turkey, Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Finland and France.
The platform will allow the introduction of new resources, the community will support teachers and pupils in being engaged in RRI processes and the trainings will assist beginners to experts in the IBSE (Inquiry Based Science Education) processes to incorporate RRI in their work.
Aliki Giannakopoulou works on RRI Tools at Ellinogermaniki Agogi, the RRI Tools Hub coordinator for Greece and Cyprus