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August 21, 2019

A Summer camp with additional value

Science for kids and teacher training at IST Austria

Since Monday, 80 primary school children have taken part at the sixth ‘Sommercampus’ at IST Austria. The event is held annually alongside partner institutions where school children spend one holiday week learning about science and doing exciting experiments. The week is not only something special for children from Vienna and Lower Austria but also is an excellent example of the current trend of collaboration between Lower Austrian institutions like the PH Niederösterreich, the museum Gugging and the monastery Klosterneuburg with IST Austria being the host.

How do you become a scientist? What is it like to be one? These and many other questions will be asked and answered at the Sommercampus in Klosterneuburg. A total of 80 children from Lower Austria and Vienna listen to presentations by scientists and also engage in their own experiments suitable for children in the areas of physics, biology and computers at IST Austria, art at the Museum Gugging and history at the monastery Klosterneuburg. At the end of the week, the children present their experiments in a research exhibition and take part in a closing ceremony.

A characteristic feature of this year’s Sommercampus is the collaboration with the Pedagogical Training Centre of Lower Austria. Student teachers guide the school children during a week of research, which in turn forms part of a specialized course on teaching science to children. The students learn a lot about the concept of “explorative learning“ with activities providing direct feedback.

Children experimenting at the summer campus. ©IST Austria

“With this concept, gaps between teachers and scientists are being overcome,“ explains Georg Heilig, Science Communicator at IST Austria, “and the students are encouraged to use explorative learning techniques in their schools in the future.“ The student feedback from previous years has been very positive: “We experience the excitement of the children and can practically try out how to teach science. “But also the scientists at IST Austria are impressed by the motivation of the children but also of the teachers in training, explains Justine Renno, Project Technician at IST Austria: “I like to invite people to see my daily research life. We can show teachers that you can do easy experiments, for example, with soda and vinegar. This way, we can motivate students to think like a scientist and ask questions because this is what scientists do — never stop asking questions while searching for their answers.”   

Researcher Julia Michalska tells the children about their researcher’s everyday life. © IST Austria

The Sommercampus is funded by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research and was supported by the Department of Science and Research of the Federal State Government of Lower Austria.


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