The activities elaborate on observations from the European Union Science Olympiad (EUSO), which was organised in Cyprus and took place in May 2008. The proposed activities focus on a low secondary biology level (student age 12-15), but can be also adapted to higher secondary-level school. The field activities have been carefully planned in order to enhance students’ abilities and skills resulting from class and laboratory investigations. From this perspective, field activities put emphasis on stimulating students’ curiosity and interest to provide answers to either their own questions or to questions initiated by their teacher. Students are encouraged to be involved in activities targeting the development of their understanding of how science works and on social, moral and ethical issues. Specific attention is drawn to recent technological advances and students have the opportunity to become familiar with new science applications. Students are also guided to gain an appreciation of the ecosystem which is selected for investigation and correctly conceptualize the potential of integrated science and technology for solving or alleviating contemporary environmental issues. The students are guided to record their experimental observations and draw from them tentative generalizations and conclusions that can be verified through continuous experimentation. At the same time, they can also gain an appreciation of the limitations that apply when designing an experiment whilst gaining technical experience.

In an educational context, where there is an increasing need to encourage students to enjoy science, so that they become interested, curious and develop knowledge-building skills, field investigation approaches can be very useful. The field work activities that are presented attempt to promote science, mathematics, and technology and put emphasis on the 7E learning cycle, namely:

  • elicit
  • engage
  • explore
  • explain
  • elaborate
  • evaluate
  • extend

“What do you think?” questions can elicit students’ prior conceptions, and an ecosystem engages and motivates students by arousing their interest. The students explore the environment under investigation identify a problem as a result of their observations and make predictions or formulate a hypothesis, design a research methodology, collect, record and analyze data, draw conclusions that result in the acceptance or rejection of the original hypothesis. Various degrees of teacher and student ownership and control are possible. New concepts are introduced and new terms are explained.