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Seeing the Science in Our Surroundings

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children by a pond


Schoolchildren in Nottingham, United Kingdom, are using a new computer toolkit to start assignments in the classroom and continue them outdoors or at home. The software, designed for handheld netbook computers, enables the students to take measurements, organize data, and share and discuss their results. For example, the students have used the nQuire toolkit to take pictures of their meals and compare their nutritional value, measure the "microclimate" of the school playground to determine the best location for a bench or flying a kite, and study the effect of noise pollution on the eating habits of birds.

Mike Sharples, director of the Learning Sciences Research Institute in the University of Nottingham's School of Education, and professor Eileen Scanlon of the Institute of Educational Technology at the Open University, are leading the project. The toolkits could be rolled out across the country. "We have been successful in engaging children in science that relates to their personal interests," Scanlon says.

From University of Nottingham (U.K.)
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