Researchers at the Economic and Social Research Council and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council have developed nQuire, a software toolkit that uses technology to spark young students' interest in science. The software uses mobile devices to enable students to set up their own projects and both find and analyze their data.
"The software is a high-tech twist on the traditional lesson plan — guiding pupils through planning scientific experiments, collecting and analyzing data, and discussing the results," says Open University professor Eileen Scanlon. "After using the program, we found that students were better able to grasp the principles underpinning sound scientific practice." The toolkit has students use portable netbooks with built-in cameras, location sensors, voice recorders, and data probes to measure atmospheric conditions. NQuire expects the students to reason about the natural sciences as a complex system and to explore how others relate to the world around them.
"Our study shows that this method of personal enquiry helps children develop the skills needed to understand the impact of science on everyday life and make better personal decisions about their own health, diet, and their impact on the environment," says Nottingham University professor Mike Sharples.
From Economic and Social Research Council
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