Active Science is an educational project based on the use of the Web and on learning methods characteristic of Inquiry Based Learning.
The project is based on a Web platform specially developed to combine the features of a social network with those of a collaborative work software. The project is mainly based on the educational use of the website by student groups, but it includes three live meetings and debates to be launched at the end of each edition.
The project started in 2009 and since then has presented four different editions on the topics of (1) Energy and Atmospheric pollution, (2) Water, energy and climate change and Stem cells, and (3) Nanosciences and Stem cells, which has been featured twice, due to its success. It has involved 60 researchers, 242 classes, 4,200 students and 150 teachers.
There are three different ways to participate in the project:
- Adopt the format and develop the project in your country at a local or national level
- Devise your own experiment in the project format, but with another target group that is not a school
- If you belong to a University, a Research Centre or, in general, a body used to taking part in European Research Projects or you are part of a European research project that needs dissemination, you can make Active Science part of it, applying it to your themes.
Coordinator: InterUniversity Centre Agorà Scienza http://www.agorascienza.it/
Target groups: education authorities, primary school students, researchers, secondary school students, teachers, other
Topic: Earth science, Energy, Environmental sciences, Nanotechnology, Other
Start year: 2009
Contact person: Active Science info (at) scienzattiva.eu
The project is articulated in four phases, namely: Prior Knowledge (consisting in a moment of exchange of ideas), Information (a phase where the classes work, collecting information and developing shared critical thinking on the selected topic), Dialogue (participants in classes are put in direct contact with the researchers through an exchange of questions and answers) and Future Scenarios (the classes define a future scenario that will be the object of the final deliberative process).
The project’s deliberative method is based on Consensus Conferences (also defined as the Danish Model). The most important characteristic of this method is the key role played by citizens in the decision-making projects. In the case of Active Science, students, as citizens of tomorrow, have the opportunity to express their opinions, discuss and hypothesize future scenarios.
Schools are involved in the project through two sets of actors: the students, who will have the chance to investigate science in a different, active and creative way, and their teachers, who play a fundamental role in leading the students during the four steps of the project and also have the opportunity of an updating on an exciting scientific topic and on the technique of the deliberative method.
The main tool used by both students and teachers is the project’s website, a platform that allows you to register project participants and form a class, give each class a specific space for interaction and knowledge-sharing (the so called “class blackboard”) and download pedagogical material provided by the experts, as well as giving participants a space to dialogue and interact with the researchers.