Blog series which features the talents of the studio, the ones who compose our pulsating atmosphere;

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Staff Picks / posted by in 13 Jan of 2012

Something I usually see, read or listen trough mass media are people complaining about the alianating educational system from today, that in fact is. The video below, made by RSA Animate is excelent and shows this reallity quite well.

Yes, in a big part of the world, the educational system can be considered really bad, and in some places it doesn´t even exist. The media shows it a lot, and it is right…after all people may know what happens in the world to be able to do something. But I miss some positivism, I miss seeing people acting to do something besides of the talking, doing something practical and with real results to motivate others. And well, I can tell this examples exists. There is a lot of people out there working hard to help building a generation of smart and flexible young people using creative methods. That´s why in this post I will tell you about a project that I saw when I was walking in Berlin, Germany, last year, and I really believe that is something worth to be shared. Simple to be adopted by any educator that truly believes that they are responsible to colaborate to a better world.

I contacted Christina Lazai, one of the responsibles for the project and she was really nice answering me an interview about what is the Humboldt Bayer Mobil.
She proved me that people can, if they are determined and creative, start to change the educational paradigms and make children be interested in science and knowledge in the same way they are interested in a video-game: interpreting them as a leisure and challenge, not as an daily boring obligation.

What is the Hulmbolt Bayer Mobil about?
The Humboldt University of Berlin, together with the Bayer Science & Education Foundation, is keen to carry on and expand its tradition of promoting science in a unique way. With the Humboldt Bayer MOBILE, the Bayer Foundation made it possible for Humboldt University‘s successful school laboratories to go on tour in a converted truck, with stops at elementary, middle and high schools in the Berlin and Brandenburg regions of Germany.
The objective is to excite the interest of children in grades 5 to 8 (11- to 15-year-olds) in science and research. We show the viewpoints and methods of the different scientific disciplines by studying the subjects of human health, climate and environment, and nutrition.
In the Humboldt Bayer MOBILE, schoolchildren can complete a variety of projects at their schools. Just like real researchers, they will use modern analytical instruments and conduct experiments to answer fascinating scientific questions. By working inside the MOBILE and exploring their surroundings, the schoolchildren will feel as if they are on a real expedition,
where the vehicle is the base camp with a specially equipped laboratory.
Alexander von Humboldt, the explorer, traveler and man of the Enlightenment serves as a role model. Just like the famous explorer, the schoolchildren will have an opportunity to use modern equipment to observe, collect and analyze data, and conduct experiments, all with the aim of answering compelling questions in science.

Inside the Truck. Photo taken by me, in Berlin.

Children exploring. Photo sent by Christina Lazai

Who is envolved?
Not only school classes, but also teachers and college students can benefit from the Humboldt Bayer MOBILE: teachers can participate in workshops; college students can gain practical experience by creating lessons and putting them into practice. The college students are the project leaders, that means they work together with the schoolclasses and supervise them.

The heads of science and education are:
Prof. Dr. rer. nat. habil. Lutz-Helmut Schön (physics)
Prof. Dr. Annette Upmeier zu Belzen (biology)
Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Rüdiger Tiemann (chemistry)
The Physics Department‘s UniLab, the Chemistry Department‘s ELAN and the Department of Biology Education are all represented in the MOBILE. The subjects, experiments and events will be continuously revised and optimized by the educational teams.

Which are the aims??
•Make science an interesting and fun experience
• Enhance the attractiveness of the field, particularly among schoolchildren who until now
have displayed little interest in the subject
• Encourage children, through their enthusiasm, to formulate their own questions about
nature and technology
• Provide insight into the work of researchers in science and industry
• Open up career opportunities in science and technology
• Support these objectives in the long term by involving parents and the community

Can you tell us about a practical example?
The local animal, plant and human world is observed, analyzed and documented as if the
schoolchildren were exploring an uncharted country
Investigations in the special laboratory (in the MOBILE)
• Determining the position of the truck (GPS and Google Earth)
• Altitude measurements (wind, temperature and humidity as a function of altitude)
• Water analysis (sample collection and spectroscopic analysis)
• Physical fitness (EKG, etc.)
Local environmental and weather conditions
• Species diversity in the center of roundabouts (ecosystems and biodiversity)
• Ambient conditions (wind, temperature, humidity)
• Food sources (documentation and analysis)
• Sounds and noise (acoustic measurements and recordings)
Experiments at the base camp
• Explosive force of soy – from bursting limestone to a moral dilemma
• The food people eat
• People‘s body measurements

What is the Educational Concept?
In keeping with Humboldt‘s example, the project-based learning approach is highly diverse in terms of both methods and topics. The schoolchildren proceed in problem-oriented fashion and divide up the workload. The projects are differentiated by topic, by the use of different research kits and by work methods. The groups of junior researchers work largely independently to derive solutions to given problems. In this connection, they test hypotheses, plan logical procedures and conduct investigations within the team. The use of modern apparatus and infrastructure is integrated in the open, interdisciplinary concept. In keeping with contemporary trends, the groups shall communicate and document their results on the Internet. A database is established for this purpose, which can be used to access results from previous projects or other schools.

Photo sent by Chistina Lazai

Photo sent by Chistina Lazai

Now, my final opinion: It´s an excelent way to make young people wake upe their imagination, estimulatig the divergent thinking and making children grow up thinking “outside the box”, having not only one answer for each question, and yes a lot of questions with multiple solutions.
What really got my attention is the participarion of College students and teachers at the project. I´ts the proof that a free mind can increase the knowledge independently from the age and can change our point of view about stuff. Break educational Paradigms. Education does not depends only on governement and professor, but also well informed College students can, (and should) be educators and be educated trough this kind of funny and collaborative work. Like I always say, is easy only to criticize, but everyone has a potencial and conditions to make difference. And yes, the brazilian government has conditions to invest in the universities with the needed instruments. If Leonardo da Vinci was alive, he would definitely sponsor this project!

Let your imagination flow in the real life. And what about start acting sharing this idea?

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