Exploring Urban Heat Islands with Personal Inquiry

70 Oakgrove School students have been out and about this spring, exploring environmental conditions in Northampton and Milton Keynes, with the support of the Personal Inquiry project (PI). As a major component of their GCSE coursework, counting towards their exam results, the Year 10 students walked across the two towns with their teachers and OU researchers, measuring the environment using ScienceScope sensors and guided by the PI developed "Activity Guide" running on Asus EEE mini laptops. The software helped them structure their data gathering out in the field, and is supporting the data analysis and presentation back in the classrooms. The school is undertaking this project for a second time, building on a very successful trial this time last year.

Personal Inquiry is a three year project, funded by the UK ESRC and EPSRC research councils. The project is developing a ‘scripted inquiry learning’ approach where students investigate a science topic with classmates by carrying out explorations between their classroom, homes and discovery centres, guided by a personal computer. The Open University and Nottingham University are working along with local secondary schools, ScienceScope (a company that develops sensing and datalogging equipment), Nottingham Museums and Galleries, and Milton Keynes City Discovery Centre.

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