Personal Inquiry

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Personal Inquiry (PI): Designing for Evidence-based Inquiry Learning across Formal and Informal Settings


The University of Nottingham and the Open University are partners in a £1.1m project to help school students learn the skills of modern science. The three year project, funded by the UK ESRC and EPSRC research councils, is developing a new approach of 'scripted inquiry learning', where children aged 11-14 investigate a science topic with classmates by carrying out explorations between their classroom, homes and discovery centres, guided by a personal computer.

The aim is for children to understand themselves and the world in which they live, through a scientific process of gathering and assessing evidence, conducting experiments and engaging in informed debate. The handheld computers, monitored and supported by their teacher, will guide the students through the activities, which can change depending on the profile and input of each individual taking part. Their activities will be based around topic themes - Myself, My Environment, My Community - that engage young learners in investigating their health, diet and fitness, their immediate environment and their wider surroundings. These topics are key elements of the new 21st century science curriculum that requires children to reason about the natural sciences as a complex system and to explore how people relate to the physical world.


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