16 May 2013

Funding for OU project to support young people being scientists

The Open University’s nQuire project is one of eleven technology ventures that will share funding of over £1million from the Nominet Trust.

nQuire will develop new tools to enable young people to be scientists by taking part in genuine scientific practice through an online open science laboratory. They will broaden their understanding of science, co-design investigations, and learn through inquiry and experience the thrill of finding things out.

Mike Sharples, Professor of Educational Technology at The Open University, said: “nQuire will really bring science to life. Working on actual scientific issues, students will be able to ask questions, investigate and share in a way that traditional approaches can’t support. The OU’s OpenScience Laboratory provides online access to data from real physical instruments and equipment, and students will be able to work on current science issues or propose their own experiments.”

nQuire will support the development of inquiry, reasoning and problem-solving skills used by scientists and in other disciplines. There will be opportunity to capture scientific information from local sources and it will encourage discovery.

Nominet Trust is committed to championing digital technology for social good. The funding for nQuire (£119,178) is through the Digital Edge investment programme, which specifically seeks out projects that aim to improve opportunities for young people. The funded projects all demonstrated a bold vision and deep understanding of how technology can be used to address social challenges, such as youth unemployment or social care provision.

Editor's Notes
The OpenScience Laboratory is an online laboratory for practical science teaching. Guided by rigorous research, the laboratory will inspire students and transform access to the world of science. As well as housing existing Open University practical science applications, new applications using cutting-edge technology are being developed.

Some of the experiences available will include
1. Remote access to laboratories and observatories: students can operate real physical equipment controlled remotely – a method already established in astronomy
2. Virtual laboratories and instruments, such as the virtual microscope: interactive screen experiments will include photo-realistic recordings of physical experiments and replicate the behaviours of real specimens
3. Online field investigations: these can involve electronic access to a conventional field trip or offer a virtual experience using satellite-borne and remotely-operated sensors
4. Citizen science: a distributed way of gathering data, where non-professionals collect or process data as part of a scientific enquiry. This data can be combined to offer new insights.

back to All News stories

back to previous page

back to top