The Lab ‘New Technologies of Information and Communication in Science Education”
Scientific Responsible: Sarantos Psycharis
The field of science education research is concerned with the development of high-level skills, like: concept formation, modelling, problem solving, meta-cognitive skills and scientific procedures and is a field whose importance is growing rapidly within science education. This requires an understanding not only of scientific knowledge and the associated technical developments, but also the nature of science and its methods, together with an ability to deploy a range of scientific arguments in wide-ranging public debates that are likely to involve environmental, economic, social and ethical issues. Inquiry based learning has been officially promoted as a pedagogy for improving science learning in many. countries (Bybee et al., 2008, Hounsell & McCune, 2002; NRC, 2000) . Inquiry can be defined as "the intentional process of diagnosing problems, critiquing experiments, distinguishing alternatives, planning investigations, researching conjectures, searching for information, constructing models, debating with peers, and forming coherent arguments" (Linn, Davis, & Bell, 2004). It is often touted as a way to implement in schools the scientific method. Establishing inquiry-based learning environments with the integration and use of technology seems to be a pervasive theme in science education and there are several arguments in the literature about its importance.
Overall however, two general reasons have been described for the use of computer tools for inquiry (by for example Edelson et al., 1999; Lehtinen, 2003; van Joolingen et al, 2005). First, computer tools help students to focus on higher learning processes being characteristic of inquiry, such as planning investigations or constructing knowledge, by assuming large parts of routine processes, like calculating, acquiring, sorting, or visualising data, retrieving and saving information. Second, they promote students’ self-regulated learning with all its positive effects on motivation, as students can access information and hints via the interface on their own pace and do not rely on the teacher (Bell et al, 2010). Modelling environments are based on a model which corresponds usually to a theory and allow learners to actually build models. Despite the fact that modelling and simulation are quite different issues, a lot of confusion exists and some points are necessary in order to distinguish the terms. According to (Van Joolingen & de Jong, 1993) computer simulations are computer programs that correspond to a model of some real system.The main objective of the Lab is the integration of the ICT-The Computational Experiment -the Inquiry Based learning together with the PCK Computer Tools and Inquiry. There are three major phases in the process of the development of a computational experiment, each with its own challenges:
• The modelling phase. The first step is the development of an abstract model of the physical system under study.
• The simulation phase. Here we refer to (mathematical) methods that make the underlying physical models discrete and the numerical analysis method, in order to end up with an algorithm, which turns into a computer program
• The computational phase. Focus on on the validation and fidelity using a computer language (e.g.Java) or interpreted software (e.g. Mathematica)