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  Home > EU Projects > Science Education projects > STIPPS - Scientific Thinking In (pre) Primary School Settings  

STIPPS - Scientific Thinking In (pre) Primary School Settings

Improving learning and teaching in science is as important today as it has ever been. Major debates are taking place in the scientific community, the political debating chambers, within the media and amongst the general public at large. Some of the issues that are driving these debates are human cloning, nanotechnology, global warming and the potential of alternative fuels. To fully engage and be stake holders in these debates it is vital that citizens are informed about science.

The ability to think in a scientific manner to approach problems in a logical and coherent way is a desirable outcome of schooling for young persons. Not only is scientific thinking important for the cognitive development of young persons, then it also provides them with skills that may be able to be transferred to other learning and social contexts. This aspect of science literacy is a cornerstone of the Scientific Thinking in (Pre) Primary Schools (STIPPS) project. The project emphasises cognitive development of scientific reasoning in (pre) primary school education and provides materials for continuing professional development of teachers in this area. The project presents a research led model for what constitutes effective methods of learning and teaching in science.

Children come to school with powerful resources (in terms of their previous learning and skills at investigating how the world works) on which science instruction can build. Even young children can learn to explain natural phenomena, design and conduct empirical investigations, and engage in meaningful evidence-based argumentation. This makes it necessary to question and reflect on the best approaches to learning and teaching in science. The STIPPS model debates how and why peer learning should be an effective approach to learning and teaching in science.

Through the use of appropriate pedagogical approaches, teachers can build on the previous knowledge, understanding and skills that children bring to school. The tutor can play a central role in promoting children’s curiosity and independence, by directing their attention, structuring their experiences, supporting and scaffolding their learning, and regulating the complexity and difficulty of levels of information for them. Both teachers and peer tutors can play an important part in helping children fulfil these critical goals.

The STIPPS project focuses on what teachers and peer tutors can do to structure, support and develop the knowledge and understanding of scientific process skills. In order to do this it presents a learning line for the development of science process skills and suggests how these skills can be developed in children in an increasingly complex manner. Curricular materials and exemplars from classrooms throughout Europe seek to illustrate good practice in science teaching. The learning lines are illustrated with resources such as good practises, video clips and lesson plans. The learning lines discuss:

  • The effective use of peer learning
  • Children learning science through active thinking
  • Effective communication skills for learning
  • Effective social skills for learning
  • Effective classroom organisation
  • Ensuring lessons are at the right level
  • Scaffolding and building learning

Through (inter)national workshops and the website www.stipps.info, we are promoting the project and its conclusions. In this way STIPPS wants to contribute to a building a democracies across Europe that have citizens that are stake holders in science by virtue of their enhanced levels of scientific literacy. The team firmly believe that such literacy is of fundamental importance for Europe’s continued growth and development.

The STIPPS team

“to work with one another” means “to learn from one another”

KATHO Tielt, Belgium
Kristof Van De Keere (kristof.vandekeere@katho.be)
Nele Mestdagh (nele.mestdagh@katho.be)

University of Education, Karlsruhe, Germany
Walter Kosack (walter.kosack@ph-karlsruhe.de)
Daniela Schmeinck (Daniela.Schmeinck@ph-karlsruhe.de)

Academic Inspection, Nancy, France
Jacques Marchal (j.marchal@ac-nancy-metz.fr)

Teacher Training Centre in Lomza, Poland
Wojciech Sidor (sidowoj@interia.pl)

University of Dundee, Scotland
Allen Thurston (a.thurston@dundee.ac.uk)

University of Malta
Suzanne Gatt (suzanne.gatt@um.edu.mt)
Miriam Teuma (teuma@orbit.net.mt)

External Evaluation

Liverpool Hope University, UK
Karl Donert (donert@hope.ac.uk)

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