Excursion destination "experimenta" laboratory world

Science Center invites school classes to experiment

In the labs of the "experimenta", participation rather than just watching is announced. © experimenta gGmbH
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Access only for scientific staff! This rule does not apply in the "experimenta": The largest science center in Germany explicitly offers school classes and other interested groups the opportunity to work in the lab. The responsible divisional manager now gives insights into the concept of success - and its expansion as part of the current expansion of the "experimenta".

"Join in and try it out!" Since 2009, the "experimenta" world of knowledge and experience in Heilbronn has offered its visitors the opportunity to experience science and literally understand it. At many interactive exhibits, children and adults can press buttons, turn cranks, sit on something ... and playfully learn.

However, the concept of the "experimenta" went beyond the scope of this Science Center offer: specialized labs and a team of experts allow groups of all ages to experiment under guidance. In contrast to comparable offers, for example in companies or universities, the "experimenta" presents itself very colorfully - it offers courses from the whole spectrum of mathematics, computer science, natural science and technology - the so-called MINT subjects. Specifically, the course projects include genetic fingerprints, nano-particles, solar mobiles or computer programs.

A successful concept will be expanded

"The concept is a great success, " says Thomas Wendt. "Up to now, we have had full capacity utilization in the student laboratories, " reports the head of department at the "experimenta". Since 2009, about 19, 000 visitors have flown into the three student laboratories each year. The current expansion therefore includes this section of the "experimenta".

When the Science Center opens its doors again in March 2019, the laboratory world will shine in new splendor in addition to the exhibition world. From 500 square meters it is currently being extended to 2, 000 square meters. Eight laboratories with state-of-the-art equipment and an experimental kitchen with a food printer will then offer over 50 different courses. "Especially in the field of computer science, we will offer more than before, " announces Wendt. For example, robots are to be programmed, and in geoinformatics the evaluation of satellite imagery is on the program. display

Unusual school trip

"For the most part, the laboratory world's offer is aimed at school classes who visit us as part of an extra-curricular event, " says Wendt. As he explains, teachers like to use the opportunity because the courses and topics are targeted to the curriculum and the unusual school trip arouses the interest of the students.

"In this context, we also provide the students with practical experience that is usually not available in school. There is often a lack of technical equipment for demanding experiments and safety aspects are difficult to ensure. In addition, we have permanent staff who take charge of the courses and also assemble and dismantle the equipment and materials, "explains Wendt.

A colorful bouquet of courses

As the scientist and pedagogue emphasizes, elementary schools and kindergardens have been particularly interested in courses so far. This demand is now specifically taken into account: So far, only one area was designed for small visitors, now is increased to three laboratories and also the course offer expanded accordingly.

As Wendt reports, educated experts in relevant disciplines and teachers of all types of schools develop the concepts of the courses. "They work out the topics, get in touch with schools, take care of the proper packaging of content, and occasionally take classes to further optimize them, " explains Wendt,

Adults are welcome too

In addition to the program for school classes, however, the "experimenta" also offers workshops and special courses in which children and adolescents can participate, for example during the holidays. And not only young visitors are the doors of the laboratories open: There are special courses that serve about the teacher training or are generally addressed to interested adults. "We are currently also working on course topics that could be particularly interesting for seniors, " says Wendt.

However, the focus will continue to be on the young audience. For children and adolescents who regularly participate in courses and are keenly interested in science, the "experimenta" offers further possibilities: You can join the researcher club or use a special program for young female researchers - the Girls' Day Academy. "Among other things, our goal is to inspire the young people in the long term for scientific work and also to win them over for our new offer: for the Northwestern Pupils Research Center, " says Wendt.

For the scientists of tomorrow

Pupil research centers already offer young people the opportunity to conduct their own research at some locations in Germany, for example to take part in competitions such as "Jugend forscht". Another focal point is being created in Heilbronn: "In the new" experimenta "we will offer our own laboratory areas for the Scholarly Research Center, where the young researchers can work on projects of a remarkable standard", explains Wendrt Wendt. "There they can use gas chromatography, genetic engineering and other sophisticated techniques."

Because of the huge expansion and reconstruction of the "experimenta" has now stopped any laboratory operation, one could argue but that is not the case: The offer was shifted to the water: A science ship is currently in a tributary of the Neckar before Anker and offers in two large laboratory rooms almost 80 percent of the previous courses.

After the reopening, the "MS experimenta" will go on a tour of Germany and offer the course program at numerous anchorages - and of course advertise - for the largest science center in Germany,

(experimenta, 28.09.2018 - MVI)