History and partners of the international cooperation


The international dimension of La main à la pâte has known a four stage development. 

It first goes back to the very beginning of the French program. The experimentation led by Leon Ledermann in Chicago, associated with the French tradition of active pedagogy and scientific teaching, were indeed the trigger of the La main à la pâte program in the 90s.  At the same time, the international networks of the scientific community widely contributed to a large distribution of new ideas concerning science teaching reform in primary school, ideas progressively carried in different contexts by some representatives of La main à la pâte. Smoothly, the idea of a basic scientific culture and reasoning, necessary for an accomplished citizenship, was acknowledged as a key aspect in the training of young people.

The various experiments led at the end of the 90s (in particular in the United States, Sweden, England, and France), also drove these various partners to discuss the methods, the strategies,  the evaluation process and to converge towards a shared and solid definition of the inquiry-based science education ( IBSE).

The third step of this development was the growing interest for La main à la pâte coming from numerous partners abroad,  such as emerging countries (Brazil, China). These countries expressed their interest to get acquainted with these methods and experiences in order to reform their own scientific education, and got in touch with the French program, which presented the advantage of a free sharing of resources, on a non-commercial basis, and was attentive to the differences existing between cultural and institutional contexts of implementation.

Fourth stage: the setting up of European networks, through projects supported by the European Commission, gradually made of science education issues an important topic for European stakeholders in research and education. The Rocard report (Science Education Now: a renewed pedagogy for the future of Europe, 2007) was a milestone in that process. The active participation of La main à la pâte members  into the works of several international organizations (InterAcademy Panel on international issues, OECD, UNESCO) also enabled to include these questions in the international agenda on education.

Nowadays, numerous French and international partners support actively the international development of La main à la pâte.   Amongst the most important are:



  • Ministry of foreign and european Affairs: General Directorate for Global Affairs, Development and Partnerships; Agency for French Education Abroad.

  • Ministry of Education: Directorate of European and International Affairs and Cooperation.

  • Ministry for Higher Education and Research.

  • International Centre for Pedagogical Studies (CIEP).

  • Treilles Foundation.

  • Christophe-et-Rodolphe-Mérieux Foundation, under the Institut de France.

  • Luciole Foundation, under the Institut de France.

  • Peugeot Citroën Automobiles.

  • National Forum of the directors of University institutes for teacher training (IUFM).


  • Agence universitaire de la francophonie.

  • Bibliotheca Alexandrina.

  • Convenio Andrés Bello.

  • European Commission: Directorate General for Research (FP7).

  • InterAcademy Panel on International Issues (IAP): the global network of the Academies of Science is involved through its program called Science education of children, with the direct involvement of about twenty Academies of Sciences world-wide.

  • International Council for Science (ICSU): the ICSU has produced a database on programmes for the renewal of science teaching. See www.icsu.org, under the tab "ICSU in science / Capacity building / Teaching science".




Project partners

Ecole normale supérieure de Lyon