The Fibonacci Project:

The Fibonacci Project:

Disseminating Inquiry-Based Science & Maths Education in Europe


The Fibonacci Project was funded by the European Union under the FP7 Programme and ran from January 2010 until February 2013.

It had two aims:

  • inform inquiry-based science and mathematics education (IBSME) methods in primary and secondary schools in Europe
  • inform designing, implementing and evaluating a process of dissemination within countries and across Europe of IBSME.

These aims reflected the recognition that practice in IBSME, while perceived to be valuable, required to be placed on a firm research basis.Equally, there was a developing recognition of the limitations of ideas of sharing best practice and that it was necessary to carry out research to establish a dissemination model which included a systematic approach to developing and implementing IBSME in schools. 

Universities and similar institutions recognised for their excellence in science and mathematics education were twinned with universities, teachers training centres, research institutions, and related bodies to research and develop practice.

Each institution established networks of schools and/or teachers who worked collaboratively on researching and developing understanding and practice in IBSME. Five ‘transversal’ topics were the focus of common research among twinning partners across Europe:

  • deepening the specificities of scientific inquiry in mathematics 
  • deepening the specificities of scientific inquiry in natural sciences
  • implementing and expanding a Reference Centre 
  • cross-disciplinary approaches 
  • using the external environment of the school.


Outcomes include:

  • three ‘background’ resource publications 
  • five ‘companion’ resource publications, one for each of the transversal topics
  • publication of model exemplars of IBSME in practice
  • the involvement of some 3500 teachers in research, professional learning and development activities
  • the involvement of some 60,000 pupils in IBSME activities
  • development of an effective research informed dissemination model.


38 institutions in 24 states were involved during lifetime of the project. As planned, a number of new twin centres were brought into the activities of the project in its final months in order to ensure sustainability and extension of its research. Project management was carried out by the École normale supérieure (La main à la pâte) in Paris with a shared scientific coordination with Bayreuth University.

The University of Glasgow was twinned with Alpen-Adria University in Klagenfurt and the University of Helsinki. Each of these institutions organised a local field visit attended by colleagues from the other two. These provided opportunities for partners to reflect on differing research approaches as well as on different practice in schools.

Each of the five transversal topics was the focus of a European Training Session which included not only participants from within Fibonacci but other colleagues (business partners, school teachers, policy makers). University of Glasgow staff participated in three of these and contributed a presentation on their research The integrity of change: research, policy, practice, learners to the Session on ‘Implementing and Expanding a Reference Centre’, Freie Universität, Berlin, 28th – 30th November, 2011.

Two European Conferences were organised bringing together a wide range of partners with interest in IBSME. University of Glasgow staff attended both and contributed a presentation Does it make us think? Inquiry based learning in science and engineering: aligning research, policy & practice to that on ‘Inquiry Based Science & Mathematics Education: Bridging the gap between education research and practice’, University of Leicester, 24th – 26th April 2012.


  • Hayward, L. & MacBride, G. (2012a) ‘Sustainable Innovation in Education: What Matters and Why?’ in Fibonacci Project Resource Publication, Setting up, Developing and Expanding a Centre for Science and/or Mathematics Education (CSME)
  • Hayward, L. & MacBride, G. (2012b) ‘Does it make us think? Inquiry based learning in science and engineering’ in Fibonacci Project Resource Publication Implementing Inquiry beyond the School

Visit The Fibonacci Project for access to all resources.