Ark of Inquiry: Inquiry Awards for Youth over Europe

Ark of Inquiry

Ark of Inquiry: Inquiry Awards for Youth over Europe is a research and development project funded by the European Commission, involving 13 project partners (including UNESCO) from 12 different countries.

The overall aim of the project is to create a “new science classroom”, one which would provide more challenging, authentic and higher-order learning experiences and more opportunities for pupils to participate in scientific practices and tasks, using the discourse of science and working with scientific representations and tools to augment their awareness of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI). In addition, it stimulates pupils’ abilities to reflect on, communicate and discuss the importance and implications of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) research in society.

A platform is being developed through which carefully selected inquiry-based activities will be made widely available to teachers and students alike across Europe. These activities will be selected by experts from a pool of inquiry-based learning materials according to their pedagogical value, educational objectives and RRI skills to be achieved.

Learners will partake in these inquiry-based activities with the teachers acting as the major supporters in the Ark of Inquiry project. After completing a particular set of inquiry-based activities, the pupils can apply for an Inquiry Award. Pupils can achieve multiple Inquiry Awards: star, diploma, bronze, silver, and gold medals.

Supportive web-based informative materials for teachers and other supporters are available. To support teachers in particular, the Ark of Inquiry project will offer opportunities for training so that they will be able to support and motivate the pupils in their inquiry-based activities.

By the end of the project, a large community consisting of 1,100 trained teachers, at least 100 science and teacher education students and 50 staff members of science centers and museums, universities and research centers across Europe will support over 23,000 pupils in inquiry-based science educational activities.

UNESCO is represented in the Ark of Inquiry project through its Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe, and is responsible not only for the direct implementation of activities under its responsibility but also coordinates the work package related to dissemination and exploitation.  UNESCO also notably contributes to this project’s objectives through the involvement of its Associated Schools’ Programme (ASPnet) to identify schools and teachers that are interested in learning more about inquiry-based science education, as well as by leveraging its knowledge and resources as a pioneer in promoting gender equality in the STEM fields and in particular, girls’ science education.

This project directly contributes to the expected results of UNESCO’s Natural Sciences programme relating to enhancing capacity-building in research and education in the natural sciences through the use of ICTs and to interdisciplinary science education initiatives including innovative methods of teaching at all levels. It further contributes to UNESCO’s work towards the recently-adopted UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), specifically to the achievement of inclusive, qualitative, and continuous education, education for sustainable development (especially to promote economic growth and rise of employment rates), and education that aims at building resilient infrastructure that promotes inclusive and sustainable industrialization and fosters innovation.

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