nQuire-it web platform for online science missions


nQuire-it is a web platform for young people to join, create and share online science missions.

Some missions include data that can be collected through the Sense-it Android app . Sense-it gives access to all the sensors on a personal mobile device, shows live graphs of sensor readings, and uploads data to an nQuire-it mission.

 nQuire-it hosts three different types of missions: 

  1. Win-it missions set challenges with prizes for the winners. Each challenge needs a creative response. Some missions involve science experiments, e.g., ‘Suggest an astronomy observation using the Open University’s PIRATE remotely-controlled telescope'. Others tackle everyday problems, e.g., ‘Propose an imaginative way to attract bumblebees to gardens’.
  2. Sense-it missions make use of the Sense-it mobile app to collect and share data using smartphone sensors (e.g., accelerometer, gyroscope, light, sound). For example, ‘What is the fastest lift?’. The Sense-it app can be found in Play Store.
  3. Spot-it missions allow users to capture images and spot things around them, such as strange signs and unusual uses of English. They require the use of camera.

Basic information

Country: United Kingdom

Coordinator: The Open University, http://iet.open.ac.uk

Programme: National

Project Acronym:

Target groups: primary school students, secondary school students, vocational school students, youth clubs, other

Topic: Biology, Chemistry, Geology, Physics

Url: http://www.nquire-it.org

Contact person: Professor Mike Sharples Institute of Educational Technology, The Open University, mike.sharples (at) open.ac.uk

The concept, design and feature missions of the nQuire-it platform (www.nquire-it.org) were developed through a partnership with Sheffield University Technical College (UTC). College staff proposed the design of the sensor-based application. Sheffield students evaluated the functionality of the nQuire-it platform and Sense-it app, proposed improvements and created exemplar missions on the platform including the “Fastest lift” and “Noise map”. Students’ recommendations informed the final design and functionality of the tools.

nQuire-it is intended for self-directed informal learning. Young people can join existing missions or create and manage new ones. The platform can be also used for teacher-supervised projects; teachers can create missions for individual students or groups or ask their students to create their own missions. The discussion area associated with each mission, which is monitored by the nQuire-it team, can also be moderated by a teacher.

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