‘Inquiry labs’ aim to inspire Europe’s next generation of scientists

‘inquiry lab’
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The EU-funded TEMI project aims to transform science and mathematics education across Europe by giving teachers new skills to engage with their students, exciting new resources and extended support.

The goal is to help ignite young people’s interest in science as a viable career; a vital step if Europe is to address a worrying skills gap. According to an EU report, Europe is facing a shortage of 820 000 ICT professionals by 2020.

This will have serious consequences not only for the competitiveness of individual companies but also for the EU’s economy as a whole. Europe needs a workforce skilled in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) if it is find solutions to modern challenges such as climate change and an ageing population. Furthermore, STEM skills are an increasingly important part of basic literacy in today’s knowledge economy.

In order to address this challenge, the TEMI project is working with teacher training institutions and networks across Europe to set up what it calls ‘inquiry labs.’ These training programmes will involve scientists and communication professionals – such as motivational speakers – mentoring teachers on how they can better use the concepts of inquiry and mystery to teach science.

The ‘inquiry lab’ concept is being promoted to policy makers as a cost-effective means of improving scientific education in schools, and it is hoped that the training will become part of the curriculum for pre-service teachers. The team is currently developing and testing training methodology and materials for these ‘labs,’ including lesson plans and digital media that will enable trainers to deliver full day workshops with limited preparation time. Half day events have already been organised during teacher in-service training events and following specific requests from schools.

In order to ensure a long term legacy, the project team has also launched a website with downloadable mystery-based materials, guides for teachers and a smartphone app on mysteries. Project partners have also produced some 20 original videos to support lesson plan development. These are now available on the TEMI website in English, and will soon be available in all project languages.

More than 40 clips have been selected in order to create a video ‘playlist,’ a tool that the project believes will encourage greater understanding of the importance that visuals can play in inspiring students.

The three and a half year TEMI project, scheduled for completion in July 2016, is part of an EU-wide move to bring about a cultural change in how science and mathematics are taught. It is hoped that the long term impact will be a new generation of scientifically aware school leavers, better able to enter further study and thus help boost the EU’s knowledge economy. Furthermore, a scientifically literate population will be better able to engage actively and knowledgeably with pressing issues such as global warming and achieving energy efficient transport.

For further information please visit:
TEMI project website