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Promoting innovative Learning Approaches for the Teaching Of Natural sciences
Start date: Sep 1, 2016, End date: Aug 31, 2018 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Today’s school science education is faced with a number of interrelated obstacles like the lack of relevance between what is taught in school and everyday life, the tight curricula which do not allow for practical implementation, reflection and consolidation of knowledge as well as the outdated teaching methods that leave little room to students for enjoyment and a search for meaning. Students are deprived of the opportunity to become active learners and thus they are often unable to recall and apply their past knowledge in different settings. In addition due to such obstacles students often perceive science as dull, authoritarian and disconnected to their lives.PLATON aims to address these problems, by motivating teachers to update their teaching practices and bring inspiration into their science classroom, increase students’ interest in science and focus on developing students’ basic skills in math and science as well as 21st century key skills, like critical and creative thinking.The PLATON project approaches science learning not as a decontextualized activities focused on the memorization of factual knowledge organized in a linear progression but as an approach that allows the generation of knowledge through a creative, constructive process that builds upon students’ prior understanding and evolves beyond what is explicitly taught. To this end, PLATON will build a methodology that combines the Inquiry Based Science Teaching Approach with the ‘Big Ideas of Science’ scheme for introducing interdisciplinary learning. This combination can produce a powerful blended approach that can enable teachers to build bridges between the science classroom and the world around us, rethink the way they perceive the science curriculum and take advantage of opportunities to introduce hands-on and minds-on activities for their students.The objective of the PLATON project is to facilitate teachers’ professional development and build their competences so as to enable them to shift towards a student-centred teaching style that combines successfully inquiry learning with interdisciplinary teaching in an integrated blended approach. More particularly, PLATON aims to:• Introduce to teachers the IBSE approach so that it allows them to identify its separate components, incorporate them progressively in their teaching style and move towards a student-centred teaching approach;• Pinpoint the added value of interdisciplinary learning and introduce the ‘Big Ideas of Science’ as a common backbone structure that allows students to make connections between principles and phenomena they learn in different science disciplines;• Produce an integrated blended approach that harmonically combines inquiry and interdisciplinary learning and introduces these components in everyday teaching thus allowing teachers to focus on increasing students interest in science and further developing basic and 21st century skills;• Train teachers to become active practitioners of the PLATON blended approach and become PLATON ambassadors by organizing training sessions for more teachers;• Build a set of MOOC training courses for teachers that ensures the sustainability of the project and the use of the PLATON methodology by teachers from all over the world even beyond the lifetime of the project;• Involve students and teachers into interdisciplinary, inquiry-based, hands-on activities that simulate real-life challenges;• Foster collaboration between teachers of the same school and encourage them to work as a team by providing a common framework that overarches science curricula and remains unaffected by changes that may occur in them;In order to achieve these objectives we aim to start by building the PLATON teacher training methodology including the necessary tools, guidelines, examples of use and assessment tools. School units from the six participating counties will be invited to training events and then put the PLATON methodology in practice. PLATON teachers will have the opportunity to become PLATON ambassadors by receiving additional training for materializing teacher training workshops themselves. The project team aims to collect input and findings from the training events and the pilot implementations, review them and produce an updated final version our framework, along with a ‘PLATON schools portfolio’ presenting best test cases from the participating schools and the ‘PLATON roadmap towards innovation’ handbook.The project aims to reach 150 teachers and 3000 students through training and implementation and 10.000 teachers and 30.000 students through dissemination events. To achieve that, the project aims to make numerous presentations and workshops in conferences and other related events reaching not only teachers but also educational stakeholders. In addition, the project aims to make use of all Erasmus+ tools like Key Activity 1 mobility grants for teachers and make liaisons with other European projects that share similar objectives.
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