The significant funding was received due to the success of the project Ark of Inquiry of the educational researchers of UT at the competition of the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) funded by the European Commission. The aim of the project, which received funding, is to develop the skills of the students in grades 1 – 12 in doing research and to train the teachers to instruct research studies.
In order to reach those targets, an environment will be developed in which experience and skills of such studies will be assessed, a “passport” of research studies will be issued, and new activities will be recommended. Different tasks can be performed with the help of a teacher or independently, e.g. with the support of the family.
“The students will learn how to solve problems in a scientific way by means of different activities – they read scientific texts, phrase research questions or hypotheses, plan and carry out observations or experiments, analyse collected data and phrase conclusions or make generalisations,” explained Margus Pedaste, leader of the project, Professor of Technology Education at UT. Research activities, such as carrying out an experiment in Science Centre AHHAA or reading a research article and being in correspondence with the author of the article, will be selected from the activities, which have appeared to be successful in different countries.
The supporting teachers, students and science centres play their role in research work. After having got enough experience, the student will again have the possibility to assess his or her experience and skills. According to this, the student will receive a diploma, bronze, silver or golden medal. Additionally, possibilities are looked for so that the science centres and institutions of higher education would acknowledge the people who have received the medal of research studies, for example, by offering them benefits or admission on special terms and conditions.
“I am very happy that the responsibility for and honour of coordinating the project was granted to the educational researchers of UT whose consistent activity has been acknowledged in the network of European institutions of higher education and who have been trusted with the role of a leader,” said Marco Kirm, Vice Rector for Research at the University of Tartu. According to Kirm, funding of the project Ark of Inquiry confirms the capability of Estonian educational scientists and teachers of approaching the studying process creatively and the flexibility of a school in realizing it, which may be considerably more complicated in larger countries. “International success in educational research ensures the quality of teacher training. I believe that it is the first swallow among the projects coordinated by the researchers of UT, and soon there will be more.”
Partners from 12 countries will participate in the project Ark of Inquiry, which starts on 1 March and will be coordinated by the University of Tartu. AHHAA Centre is the partner in Estonia, other partners are from Greece, Finland, Cyprus, Italy (UNESCO), the Netherlands, Austria, Germany, Turkey, France, Belgium and Hungary.
The budget of the project is EUR 2.8 million, out of which EUR 2.5 million is the grant of the European Commission.
The University of Tartu has previously participated as a partner in more than one hundred FP7 projects, but Ark of Inquiry is the first large consortium project in which UT has the role of a leading partner. It is the first successful project of FP7 sub-programme “Science in Society” ever coordinated by Estonians.
Read here more about the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) of the European Union for research and technological development and on the webpage of the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research.
(Original article published by University of Tartu)