Nov 24, 2017
Young scientists conquer the world
Children in Germany are far from being the only ones infected with the science bug anymore. Interest in the “Forscherwelt” (Researchers’ World) program created by Henkel in 2011 has grown internationally year after year, and the concept has been reproduced many times. Joining the curious community of little research scientists in Germany, Russia, Argentina, Ireland, Poland, Italy and Turkey, children from India, Chile and the United Arab Emirates have also been given the opportunity to conduct their own experiments since mid-2017.
What makes this educational initiative so successful? "In many countries, traditional classroom teaching is still the norm, and schools often lack the resources and space for practical science classes. The Forscherwelt concept takes a multisensory approach and relies on so-called research and development-based teaching. As such, it represents an enrichment for the common school curriculum," says Dr. Ute Krupp, Head of Forscherwelt and Sustainability Manager at Henkel.
With training courses for both external teachers and Henkel employees at the various locations, Krupp ensures that the program offers children the same standard and high-quality education in every country. In total, more than 16,000 children have already participated in – and loved – the program worldwide.
In places where there is no physical Forscherwelt space, young explorers can still experience "Forscherwelt-to-go": The prerequisites vary from one course to another, so the experiments are chosen in such a way that they can be carried out in the classroom or elsewhere without difficulty and with utensils that are easy to procure.
The goal is to teach the children to adopt a scientific mindset through experimentation. How do research scientists think, act and approach problems? "Children learn this best when they take on the role of a researcher themselves," says Krupp. The research tasks are structured in such a way that the children can solve them autonomously by being creative. Because the young scientists have to take initiative and do things on their own, they are able to concentrate for much longer. This is also true for children from educationally disadvantaged backgrounds. "We really get through to the children. They dive right in and don’t even realize how hard they work here. There's a lot going on in their minds," Krupp explains. Many positive responses have let her know that the Forscherwelt concept works. "Even three or four years later, children sometimes still remember exactly what they did here," she reports. "That makes me happy every time. This is why I hope that the Forscherwelt initiative will continue to grow and that many more children will get the opportunity to participate in the program."