Klaus Tschir Foundation non-profit GmbH
The Research Station, Klaus Tschir’s Competence Center for Early Science Education, is ten years old. Its aim is to inspire educators from nurseries, nurseries and primary schools to become interested in natural sciences so that they can discover the world with their children. To this end, the research station relies on further training, experimental ideas, practical research and the qualifications of young scientists.
Beate Spiegel, Managing Director of the Klaus Tschir Foundation and Petra Gürsching, Managing Director of the research station, explain what makes the facility so special.
The research station is ten years old. How did it actually start?
Beate Spiegel: I thought the project was part of the foundation from the very beginning. Our goal has always been to remove the shyness of educators and teachers from nurseries and primary schools. Over the years, one project was funded after another, and ten years ago, the research station spin-off as a limited liability non-profit company. It fits our approach: projects start small and then can grow into something big. Thus, the research station has become one of the original facilities of the foundation, which is an example of what we want to achieve in the field of early childhood education.
How did a specific concept arise?
Beate Spiegel: Here, too, we had a lot of room for development. Klaus Tschira wanted the foundation to be closely linked to the project so that it could accompany the development stages. His dream was to support lifelong learning with the foundation: from kindergarten, through Explore Science, to the KlarText award and promoting the latest research.
What makes it unique?
Petra Gürsching: Children and teachers can experience with us and through us that learning is part of everyday life, just when you think about cooking or washing your hands. It’s about physics and chemistry.
Arouses interest and curiosity! It was and is our mission. I joined as Managing Director when the project phase was over and the spin-off began. I was fascinated by the idea and it was a great challenge to turn it into a company with the right goals and structures.
What are the unique selling points today?
Petra Gürsching: The focus is on the child, even though the target group is education professionals. When developing offers, we always start with children and their needs – according to their age group. And thanks to our offers, we are very closely oriented on the daily working life and the framework conditions of qualified employees.
We work with everyday materials that can also be found in the children’s world. For example, I can discover the difference between swimming and drowning in a puddle in a rock and leaf playground.
For me, an important unique selling point is the only support from the foundation. This allows us to act independently, but we always follow the latest educational standards.
How has the educational landscape developed in this area over the last decade?
Petra Gürsching: The Pisa study shocked a few years ago when it became clear that Germany was lagging behind when it comes to education. Suddenly, early childhood education, though strongly related to language, was given top priority. Then came the MINT initiative, an initiative to promote education in mathematics, computer science, life sciences and technology. We have been dealing with both for a long time. Then came the topic of digitization, which was already on our agenda. We are distinguished by the fact that we combine, for example, scientific science with language training. Thinking out of the box is what distinguishes us. Here, too, we connect to the world where children live and think online.
What kind of people are there on the research station team?
Petra Gürsching: We currently have 28 employees and several student assistants. Our team is interdisciplinary. We have people from natural and pedagogical sciences with us, but also nurseries and teachers from schools. It is really exciting how different know-how is combined and how it develops us as a research station.
Beate Spiegel: The team grew slowly, so it was important for us to constantly develop, adapted to the needs.
There was and is scientific support. How does it look like?
Petra Gürsching: The collaboration with the University of Education (PH) Heidelberg existed from the very beginning. It is still very important to us that our offers meet the latest scientific standards. We evaluate all our offers. It is of course about the satisfaction of the participants, but also the feasibility of what they have learned. In this way, we also secure our important goal: the professionalization of qualified employees. For example, we ask about the motivation and interest in Early Science Education at the beginning and end of our continuing education courses and find out if practical knowledge has increased. This shows that something is happening.
What’s the opinion? What does the research station bring to participants?
Petra Gürsching: We get a lot of positive feedback about the events and the organization. Many consider themselves bolder and more confident when it comes to life science, or say they would now prefer to incorporate relevant experiments into their day or school practice or combine language learning with science education.
How did the research station deal with the crown pandemic? From the outside, it felt as if the research station shook itself briefly, then continued.
Petra Gürsching: Of course, we were also thrown into deep water. All offers were made up to this point. But we only really stopped briefly and then switched to digital. It was a huge challenge, especially since our offers are interactive and have a lot to do with materials.
Just before Corona, we had a team workshop where we dealt with strategic issues. Each year we wanted to deal with a topic related to the educational landscape and develop new offers about it. The first topic was digitization. And we were right in the middle. It is not only about digital formats, but also about how early science education can be done with digital tools and methods.
what will be left
Petra Gürsching: Definitely digital tools and dealing also with digital media. But we will by no means only offer digital formats. It’s a good addition, but we’ll try to get the best of both worlds.
We heard earlier that the research station was a seedling that was allowed to grow and develop. Where will it go in the next ten years?
Beate Spiegel: I would like the research station to grow and develop as steadily as before. No pressure, at your own pace; you know that if something needs to be done quickly, you can react, but without taking any action. We have become more famous already, and the level of awareness, also in the area, will certainly increase.
Photos to download: https://www.klaus-tschira-stiftung.de/forscherstation/#more-4796
Klaus Tschira Foundation
The Klaus Tschir Foundation (KTS) promotes the natural sciences, mathematics and computer science and wishes to contribute to the appreciation of these subjects. It was founded in 1995 by the physicist and co-founder of SAP Klaus Tschira (1940-2015) from private funds. Its three funding priorities are: education, research and science communication. The nationwide involvement starts in kindergarten and continues in schools, universities and research institutions. The Foundation engages in dialogue between science and society. More information at: www.klaus-tschira-stiftung.de
Research Station, Klaus Tschir Competence Center for Early Science Education gGmbH
The Heidelberg-based Klaus Tschir Early Scientific Education Competence Center research station is supported by the Klaus Tschir Foundation. Its aim is to inspire and enable teachers from nurseries, kindergartens and primary schools to learn about the world together. To this end, the research station relies on on-the-job training, the provision of relevant experimental ideas, practical research and the qualification of young scientists. The research station works closely with the Pedagogical University of Heidelberg. More information at: www.forscherstation.info
Klaus Tschira Foundation
Dr. Katrin Schneider-Özbek
Original content: Klaus Tschira Stiftung non-profit GmbH, provided by news aktell