One learns by doing, by being engaged, one step at a time, by making mistakes; one learns with and from peers, collaboratively, but also by reaching out to experts; one learns by sharing, debating, teaching, by confronting one’s ideas to the views of others and to experimental data…
These words by Georges Charpak, 1992 Physics Nobel laureate, define our Science programs. In Primary School, this takes the form of a school-based adaptation of La Main à La Pâte, an inquiry-based curriculum that stresses experimentation and questioning.
In Middle School, our Scientific Inquiry Program (SIP) was conceived under the mentorship of George Charpak by the School’s science department in partnership with research scientists of the École Supérieure de Physique et de Chimie Industrielle de la Ville de Paris (ESPCI), a prominent research university. The SIP is an integrated inquiry-based and problem-based science curriculum; its goal is to tackle “big questions” through hands-on scientific inquiry and to reference the history of science and scientists as the epic quest to “read the book of nature.” Expected student outcomes are a continued deep interest in science and an understanding of the scientific “method.” The program’s effectiveness is regularly evaluated in Year 11 with benchmarked PISA-type questions and has led to superior performance at the baccalaureates.
In Mathematics, the use of hands-on educational material from a very early age contributes to encourage the natural curiosity of young children and their spirit of inquiry. Our aim is to develop their appetite and capacity for research, where “research” is defined as attempting to solve complex problems without having the required conceptual tools (or recipes) at one’s disposal. These methods, reinforced by daily exercises in mental maths serve to establish a solid mastery of core math skills.
In Secondary School, the Maths department developed the Maths Facts Lab (chantier calcul), a distinct element of the Maths curriculum from Year 7 to 11, focusing on achieving fluency in the building blocks of mathematical reasoning. When these tasks become automatic and fluency is achieved, students can turn to higher-level cognitive tasks. The Maths Facts Lab is reinforced by a cloud-based adaptive spaced-repetition app which tracks each student’s individual progress and provides teachers with a comprehensive dashboard to monitor student commitment (time spent), achievement and progress.