Science in the Schoolyards promotes the use of schoolyards from Portuguese Elementary Schools as core spots for teaching science. Students from participant schools develop a research project with the schoolyard as the focal point and that goes through the various stages of the scientific process: questioning, raising hypotheses, experimenting, collecting evidences, consulting books and websites, talking to scientists, reviewing evidences, getting results, discussing with colleagues and communicating their findings to others. The research project that students develop follows the IBSE (Inquiry-Based Science Education) methodology. During the project, students and their teacher are supported by a scientist from the scientific filed they choose to explore: Geology, Botany, Zoology, Astronomy or Mathematics. This project promotes a strong connection between children and science, scientists and the scientific process.
The project can be resumed through the following steps:- Students are encouraged (by teacher and/or scientist) to raise questions about a scientific topic thatthey are observing in the schoolyard (related with plants, animals, soil, fossils, growth forms,meteorological events, etc.).- Students gather evidences from the schoolyard and other sources (books, websites, interviews with families and community members, etc.) about what they are researching. If necessary, students alsodevelop experiments both in the schoolyard and in the classroom.- Students visit the workplace of the scientist (laboratory, greenhouse, forest, etc., depending onhis/her scientific area). This is very important because helps them to understand what means to be a scientist and to develop scientific research in the context of their region/country.
During this visit students can discuss their own scientific work process with the scientist. – Students search for explanations for the raised questions, based on the gathered evidences, meeting(s) with the scientist, etc.- Students reflect on the explanations and include alternatives based on the acquired scientific knowledge to answer to the raised questions at the beginning of their work.- Students communicate their findings to others (colleagues, families, local community, etc.), justifying the reached conclusions. They can do this through conferences, guided visits to the schoolyards, scientific papers, news in the school journal/website/blog, documentaries, etc.
Age: 4 to 11