In various parts of the world, primary children experiment with science thanks to "La Main à la Pate"
The recent development of inquiry-based science teaching in primary schools owes much to the efforts of the scientific community. It was Leon Lederman, Nobel Laureate for Physics 1988, for instance, who introduced the movement into poor neighbourhood schools of Chicago in the USA. Three French physicists would later visit these schools, only to discover children fired with enthusiasm for science. Upon their return to France, the three physicists – Georges Charpak, Nobel Laureate for Physics in 1992, Pierre Léna and Yves Quéré – would decide to launch their own version of inquiry-based science teaching, La main à la pâte (or Learning by doing). Over the past five years, the movement has spread to schools in Afghanistan, Argentina, Brazil, Cambodia, Chile, China, Colombia, Egypt, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Senegal, Slovakia, Togo and elsewhere. Together with David Jasmin, responsible for the programme’s international activities, Yves Quéré explains here how La main à la pâte has caught on around the world.
"It all began in France in 1996 when we learned from the Ministry of Education that science was being taught in just 3% of classes in kindergartens and primary schools. This startling figure reflects, above all, just how much teachers dread having to teach a subject they believe has become too difficult. Science has undoubtedly made dizzying progress but what teachers don’t seem to realize is that the basic concepts they should be showing children have not changed...."For complete article: A World of Science, Vol 3, No. 3, July-September 2005, pp.2-8