The University of Cyprus is a public University with approximately 4,000 undergraduate and 1,000 Master’s and PhD students. The Department of Educational Sciences at the University of Cyprus is a large department with 22 members of the faculty, and 35 associate or assistant personnel. There are two undergraduate (primary and pre-primary school education) programs, a pre-service postgraduate secondary education program (across all subject domains taught in secondary education) and seven postgraduate programs at the Masters and PhD level (including science, math and technology education).
The University of Cyprus is the largest teacher training university of the country and the only one responsible for training secondary education teachers, right before entering schools. UCY personnel train about 100 pre-service teachers per year, as well as about 100 in-service teachers. In Science Education, UCY is active in research into inquiry learning, computer supported collaborative learning, physical and virtual laboratory experimentation, modelling, science curriculum development and assessment, conceptual understanding, teacher training and professional development, and educational evaluation.
The Research in Science and Technology Education Group (ReSciTEG) at the University of Cyprus conducts a co-ordinated program of research, curriculum development and instruction. ReSciTEG is currently engaged in three major projects: the use of virtual and remote labs in the context of inquiry-based (science) learning, the development of computer supported inquiry learning environments, and raising youth awareness about responsible research and innovation through inquiry-based Science Education. ReSciTEG is also leading the curriculum reform of the country for science and technology education across K-12.
ReSciTEG participated in multiple projects related to Next-Lab, namely those devoted to inquiry learning (Go-Lab, ARK of Inquiry, SCY, PLATON, Schools Study Earthquakes), remote laboratories (Virtual Labs, ITforUS), information technology and learning science (ITforUS), science curriculum development (PLATON, Schools Study Earthquakes, BIOPEDIA), and modelling (DEMIOURGIA, SYNERGASIA).
In Next-Lab, UCY contributes to (a) the efforts aiming at implementing the Next-Lab materials in public and private primary and secondary schools in Cyprus, (b) the development of the teacher training materials and the training of pre- and in-service teachers, and (c) the design and development of the new tools to empower students.
Ark of Inquiry
Ark of Inquiry is a research and development project funded by the European Commission, involving 13 project partners from 12 countries: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, and Turkey. The overall aim of the Ark of Inquiry project is to create a "new science classroom". This classroom 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. Ark of Inquiry aims at raising youth awareness to Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI), as well as building a scientifically literate and responsible society through Inquiry-Based Science Education (IBSE).
School Study Earthquakes
The School Study Earthquakes (SSE) project is an Erasmus + project involving 6 partners from 5 countries: Cyprus, Greece, Bulgaria, Turkey, and Italy. The main aim of the project is to promote scientific literacy and cooperation between schools and countries, through the concept of earthquakes. More specifically, students will learn in depth special topics of physics and geology, participate and perform investigations, and work with instruments used in seismology, all in a cooperative manner. Issues associated with the societal impact of this natural phenomenon will be also addressed.
In order to achieve the project's objectives, inquiry was chosen as the main instructional approach. Fifty secondary schools will be involved in the educational activities of the project and a minimum of 250 science teachers will be trained prior and during the implementation phase in schools. A South Eastern European / Mediterranean School Network of digital seismographs will be created and, therefore, students will work with real seismic data in real time.
The ReSciTEG team is actively involved in the project, especially in the development of pedagogical methodologies and the implementation plan that will be followed during the project.
The PLATON project unites partners from six countries: Portugal, Greece, Cyprus, Finland, Spain, and United Kingdom. It is funded by the Erasmus+ Program and is a part of the "Cooperation for innovation and the exchange of good practices" action.
PLATON aims to provide teacher communities with a coherent teacher training framework, which will focus on promotion of student-centred teaching approaches, such as inquiry-based learning and a holistic interdisciplinary approach for teaching science in schools. The latter approach is based on innovative teaching methods like the "Big Ideas of Science", also fostering collaboration between teachers of different science disciplines. In addition, the framework will provide support on the use of online educational tools, in order to enrich teachers' instruction skills and bring them in coherence with student's needs and interests.
After the training, teachers will be able to include effective student-centred teaching approaches in their daily practice and make use of appropriate educational tools to enhance students' engagement in scientific practices. In addition, students will have the opportunity to study, in depth, many subject domains and create links between ideas and phenomena from different disciplines.
Science Created by You
Science Created by You (SCY) is a project on learning in science and technology domains targeting students between 12 and 18 years old. SCY uses the metaphor of a student as an engineer or scientist, who gathers knowledge in the course of working on a research or design project. Therefore, SCY missions (i.e., the SCY learning environments) are characterized by an overall research or design goal, for example, to create a report on water quality or to create a CO2-friendly house. Along the way on creating the final product, the students produce many types of (intermediate) results. An example of such results in the CO2-friendly house mission is a set of hypotheses on the effects of measures that reduce CO2 emission. We call such products, which are created in the SCY missions, Emerging Learning Objects (ELOs). Examples of ELO types include: runnable models, concept maps, data sets, hypotheses, tables, summaries, reports, and experimental procedures.
Fulfilling SCY missions requires a combination of knowledge from different content areas (e.g. physics, mathematics, biology, as well as social sciences). Learners perform several types of learning actions that can be characterised as productive (experimentation, gaming, sharing, explaining, designing, etc.). They involve multiple resources, require varying degree of collaboration with peers, and use changing constellations of tools and scaffolds. The configuration of a SCY-Lab is adaptive to the actual learning situation, advising learners on appropriate learning actions, resources, tools, and scaffolds, or peer learners that can support the learning process. Four SCY missions have been developed, each of which addresses specific science content in the context of creating a particular final product.