Personal Inquiry: linking the cultures of home and school with technology mediated science inquiry

Anastopoulou, Stamatina; Sharples, Mike; Ainsworth, Shaaron and Crook, Charles (2009). Personal Inquiry: linking the cultures of home and school with technology mediated science inquiry. In: Mobile learning cultures across education, work and leisure. Proceedings of the 3rd WLE Mobile Learning Symposium, 27 Mar 2009, London, England.



The Personal Inquiry (PI) project is investigating ways to help young people aged 11-14 to understand themselves and their world through a process of active scientific inquiry across formal and informal settings. The children use new methods of Scripted Inquiry Learning, implemented on ultra-mobile PCs (UMPCs) and classroom technologies, to gather and assess evidence, conduct empirical research and engage in informed debate. Their activities are based around topic themes e.g. ‘myself’, which are in line with key elements of the new 21st century science curriculum (Millar & Osborne, 1998). This paper refers to the experiences of working with an inner city school in Nottingham where pupils were given a UMPC and a camera to use at home, for a period of three weeks. The educational aim was to help students pursue an inquiry into how healthy their diet is, with the students describing and photographing what they ate for a few days. This was supported through an ‘inquiry guide’ implemented on the UMPC that followed the structure of their relevant science lessons. Nine science lessons were structured around the following inquiry activities: find a focus, decide on the inquiry questions, plan the investigation, collect data on daily eating, import it on a special software, convert it into nutrients, compare their nutrients to a recommended nutrient intake, draw inferences, prepare a presentation, present it and finally reflect on it.

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