This is a guest post submitted by Prof Suzanne Gatt, a teacher trainer in Primary Science and Primary Environmental Education at the Faculty of Education, University of Malta
Imagine three and four year olds observing everyday how much a plant has grown, or mixing different substances such as sugar, coffee, breadcrumbs, flour with water to test what happens each time. Children are capable of asking questions, testing their opinions, and based on their observations, to draw their conclusions about how the world works. Yes, young children can inquire, be insightful and draw conclusions on evidence gathered. This is what science education with young children in the primary years should be – children actively inquiring about authentic problems which they encounter. This is what the 3 million FP7 project Pri-Sci-Net, funded by the European Commission is aiming to achieve in as many primary schools across Europe.
The Project Pri-Sci-Net, pioneered by The Malta Council for Science and Technology with the direction of Prof. Suzanne Gatt, a science educator, is working to promote inquiry-based learning in science in both local and European primary school classrooms. With a total of 17 partners in 14 different countries, the group will in the next three years be providing opportunities to schools and teachers wanting further training and resources for inquiry. It will provide 45 science activities using IBSE which will be available in 15 different languages, organise national and international courses as well as two international conferences. The project will also set up a virtual platform where teachers an upload and share the science activities.
Pri-Sci-Net also wants to recognize teachers’ work through a Certificate of Excellence. It also has opportunities to fund teachers to travel to the international activities being organised. It is hoped that all these efforts taking place will change science education in primary schools across Europe.
Interested teachers and other educators wanting to avail themselves of the free resources and opportunities offered through this project, e.g. access to the European networks, national and participation in international courses and conferences, should contact The Malta Council for Science and Technology for further details or visit the project website http://www.prisci.net