kidsINNscience. Innovation in Science Education – Turning Kids on to Science was a research project involving eight partners in Europe and two in Latin America (Austria, Brazil, Germany, Italy, Mexico, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, and UK). It aimed to identify and promote innovative approaches for teaching and learning science. Goals were to facilitate educationalists at different positions in the educational system to operate more creatively within the system and to help generate changes toward active learning systems. It also aimed to improve performance and interest in science and technology (S&T) among young people.
The basic assumption was that innovations in S&T education work efficiently if they meet agreed quality criteria and are adapted to the local circumstance and conditions. Therefore, kidsINNscience adopted adaptive strategies to enable participating countries to learn from each other and to develop feasible innovation plans and carry out effective pilots that fit the specific needs and conditions of a given country.
Main questions the project addressed were
1. What strategies for teaching and learning in S&T motivate teachers and learners in the participating countries?
2. What similarities and differences are there in innovating S&T teaching and learning in the participating countries?
3. What strategies to innovate S&T teaching and learning would work in the participating countries, considering its characteristics of S&T teaching and learning?
Diversity and inclusiveness, gender aspects and activity based and learner centred approaches such as Inquiry Based Learning (IBL) were explicitly addressed in all phases of the project.
The starting point of kidsINNscience was the definition of a set of quality criteria to describe and compare S&T curricula and practices. These criteria constituted the basis for describing and comparing innovative practices (IPs). The IPs were collected in each of the ten participating countries and merged in the scan of innovative practices (Mayer & Torracca 2010). It comprises 80 innovative practices from pre-primary to upper secondary school, covering a broad range of subjects and topics.
A comparative report on national contexts and innovative practices in science education (Mayer & Torracca 2011) allowed an overview of the main similarities and differences between S&T education policies and practices in the partner countries. In parallel, the selection and adaptation of IPs focussed on providing a frame to be considered when transferring an IP from one context to another (Jiménez-Aleixandre & Eirexas-Santamaría 2010, for an example, see Gerloff-Gasser & Büchel 2012b).
During the school years 2010/2011 and 2011/2012, field trials adapting and implementing 28 IPs from other partner countries were performed at schools. 186 teachers and 181 classes and teaching groups were involved at 98 schools. A total of 4105 learners of all ages were reached! In Switzerland, 3 IPs originating from Italy, Mexico and Austria were implemented by 18 teachers at 9 schools. A total of 269 pupils and students from 17 classes at kindergarten to upper secondary level participated. German translations of the original teaching material are available from the kidsINNscience website (download; see below). Corridoni et al. (2013) describe the experiences from two field trials in the Italian-speaking Ticino.
A National Evaluation Report of each project partner constituted the basis for the analysis and compilation of the Evaluation of the field trials (Gerloff-Gasser & Büchel 2012a). Based on the evaluation, the set of quality criteria was redefined. Finally, strategies for innovating S&T education (Lorenz & Fischbach 2013) sum up the experiences of kidsINNscience.
UZH lead the workpackage „Evaluation and Strategies“.
Gerloff-Gasser, Christine; Büchel, Karin (2012). kidsINNscience. Innovation in Science Education - Turning Kids on to Science. In: Zeyer, A; Kyburz-Graber, R. Science, Environment, Health : Towards a Renewed Pedagogy for Science Education. Dordrecht: Springer, 166-170.
Gerloff-Gasser, Christine; Büchel, Karin (2012). Evaluation of field trials of innovative practices in science education. Switzerland: The kidsINNscience consortium.
Corridoni, Tommaso; Reggiani, Luca; Gerloff-Gasser, Christine (2013). A plant is born to the potato: plant model evolution in children. In: International Conference "New Perspectives in Science Education", 2nd edition, Florence, Italy, 14 March 2013 - 15 March 2013, 189-194.