Our Approach

Socio-scientific issues are controversial, socially relevant, real-world problems that are based in science but impact on society and often include an ethical or moral component. Vaccination, climate change, healthy lifestyles, environmental pollution, the energy crisis are all clear examples of such issues. Teaching and learning science through these issues offers great opportunities to build science literacy.

In the COSMOS project, we collaborate with primary and secondary schools that want to engage in science education that is open to the society. We do this through:

  1. co-creating (together with our school partners) organizational routines (CORPOS) that support the gradual embeddedness of the open schooling approach, and
  2. the implementation of socio-scientific inquiry-based learning (SSIBL), a novel pedagogical framework that emphasises asking authentic questions, using inquiry to create understanding, and active citizenship as a way for kids to engage meaningfully toward a sustainable future.

Together with the schools participating in our project, we explore opportunities to include stakeholders (e.g., small businesses, NGOs, local residents, community services) in science education processes taking place at each school. We do this in a way that is tailored to what the school wants and needs. Each school is different, and this provides us with a unique opportunity to study the organisational structures that help school teams to sustainably embed this open approach to science education.

SSIBL can be operationalised in science education by:

  1. Raising authentic questions about controversial issues (SSIs) arising from impacts of science and technology in society [ASK]
  2. Inquiry: Integrating social and scientific inquiry (IBSE) to explore these open-ended questions [FIND-OUT]
  3. Action: Formulate and implement solutions which help to enact change [ACT]

In COSMOS, we aim to engage stakeholders in the different stages of SSIBL.

SSIBL supports students’ conceptual learning of science and their understanding of how to apply this knowledge in everyday life. As a result, they develop decision-making skills and formulate modes of action that empower them to contribute responsibly to and within their communities.