Open Science Schooling and the Project: Young Students as Critical Science Detectives

The current disengagement of science education at school

Students have been constantly reporting cognitive and affective disengagement with science learning (Cowie et al., 2011; Murray et al., 2004) due, among other factors, to a disconnection between school learning activities and young people lived experience.

At the same time, there is an increasing demand for science related professionals in Europe (CEDEFOP, 2016). Such unbalance between industry demand and school supply of youths pursuing scientific careers calls for innovative ways to re-engage students in science learning.

The Open Science Schooling Approach

To tackle the above mentioned issue, a consortium of educators, researchers, and students around Europe have deployed from January 2020 until March 2022 a transnational school project in Greece, Lithuania, Poland, and Romania. The project was built upon previous experiences developed through the Open Science Schooling (OSS) approach, in which …

students are active agents at the heart of inquiry-oriented science learning. In the OSS project, students identify and frame the research problems that they are intrigued and interested in tackling, and they lead the discovery of solutions and innovations, helping situate science in every-day life.

Leite & Montero, 2022, p. 5

The project developers believe that such a framework of science education for responsible citizenship contributes to solving social problems in the learners’ own context, and can work as an educational setting that re-engages students with science by incorporating scientific practices and ways of thinking. Ultimately, the project final goal was that students develop a science identity (Ryan, 2015) by learning scientific literacy (Siarova et al., 2019).

The Project Young Students as Critical Science Detectives (2020-2022)

Following the Open Science Schooling methodology (Montero et al., 2019) , students, teachers and the surrounding school communities from Greece, Lithuania, Poland and Romania participated in an Erasmus+ funded project.

The project stakeholders received guidance on developing science missions throughout the years 2020 and 2022. The students from the four participant countries developed their science missions and investigations related to local societal issues of their interest in collaboration with their teachers (cross-subject topics) and community experts (e.g., local enterprises, universities, research centers) with frequent hands-on investigations outside their classrooms or laboratories (often carried out using online platforms for virtual communications).

Leite & Montero, 2022, p. 6

Now that the project is over and its outcomes have been reported in four types of outputs, we invite the whole education community to explore its lessons learned and implement in your own education setting in the project official webpage. From the studies developed along the project, the main key findings are:

The key findings described in the research report (Leite & Montero, 2022, p.3)


Cowie, B., Jones, A., & Otrel-Cass, K. (2011). Re-engaging students in science: Issues of assessment, funds of knowledge and sites for learning. International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 9(2), 347-366.

European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training – CEDEFOP. (2016). Briefing Note – Skill shortage and surplus occupations in Europe. Retrieved 15 January 2020. Online at


Murray, S., Mitchell, J., Gale, T., Edwards, J., & Zyngier, D. (2004). Student disengagement from primary schooling: A review of research and practice. Retrieved 15 January 2020. Online at

Montero, C. S., Baranowski, A., & Gejel, J. (2019). OPEN SCIENCE SCHOOLING–RETHINKING SCIENCE LEARNING. In EDULEARN19 Proceedings (pp. 9159-9164). IATED.