Teaching science through mystery

A £3m project co-ordinated by academics at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) is using the appeal of magic tricks, myths and mysteries to help school children across Europe develop a passion for science.

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Teaching Enquiry with Mysteries Incorporated (TEMI) is a €3.5m EU-funded initiative designed to transform how science, technology, engineering and maths subjects are taught in classrooms. 

Researchers from QMUL used funding from the last EU research funding programme (FP7) to co-ordinate 13 teaching institutions and networks across Europe, including in Italy, Germany and the Czech Republic.

Project leader and Vice-Principal for Public Engagement and Student Enterprise, Professor Peter McOwan said: “People love solving mysteries - the popularity of TV shows, books and films where the plot unfolds revealing new and previously unknown facts have universal appeal.

“Our project aims to harness the power of magic tricks, myths and mystery to allow teachers and pupils across Europe to develop their investigative skills and explore some fascinating hidden science.”

TEMI developed new teaching methods and supported science teachers to improve their ability to capture an audience’s attention using theatre and other related techniques. The first teacher training seminars began in January 2014 and conferences are now held across Europe to help teachers make the most of these new approaches. Nearly 1,000 teachers will be trained by the end of the project, along with multi linguistic instruction manuals and website, leaving a lasting legacy of enquiry-based science teaching across Europe.

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