The fourth floor of the Maison du Savoir in Belval, is home to a real Aladdin’s cave for primary school teachers. Behind the door of the SciTeach Center are all sorts of intriguing objects. Giant dentures, skeletons, taxidermised animals, 3D models, books and games of all kinds await curious students and teachers.
It’s not just the shelves of the SciTeach Center that have filled up since its doors opened in 2016. The workshops offered by the centre to support teachers in their practice and the network of actors involved in the projects have also been widely developed. -The overarching goal of the SciTeach Center team is to promote the teaching of science in Luxembourg’s fundamental schools, and over the years we have developed a range of initiatives and resources to support teachers in engaging their students in exploring, investigating, and learning about science,- explains centre Director Christina Siry , Professor of Learning in the Institute for Teaching and Learning in the Department of Education and Social Work.
-In 2015, we saw a growing need for training for sciences teachers in primary schools. Many people did not feel comfortable in this area-, recalls Jean-Paul Bertemes, Head of Science in Society at the National Research Fund. He continues: -This observation led to our collaboration with the University of Luxembourg and the establishment of a training and resource centre for teachers led by the vision of Christina Siry -.
Since opening its doors, more than 1000 primary teachers in Luxembourg have benefited from the SciTeach Center through various professional learning workshops and engaging with teacher leaders. -Before becoming a teacher, I was a researcher in microbiology. I wondered how to improve myself and how to combine my background in research with my new job as a teacher. Now through my work as a Multiplikator with the SciTeach Center, I have learnt how to help children to become little scientists. We often mistakenly think that it is impossible to let them ask questions themselves, that it doesn’t work-, explains Patty Muller from the Beaufort Primary School. The work of the SciTeach Center does just that. It supports teachers in engaging students and young children in asking questions and investigating. It also supports teacher leaders in assisting their peers in teaching primary sciencein innovative ways.
The SciTeach Center’s connection with the University’s Bachelors of Education (BscE) program is also notable. Graduate of the Bachelor of Science in Education at the University of Luxembourg, Max Weirig is now a primary teacher in Canach. -Thanks to my participation with the SciTeach Center during my studies, I have learnt many methodologies that I now use in class. Children learn much better when they can experiment and discover for themselves,- he confirms.
Inquiry-based learning at the core of Sci2SchoolMid-October the Sci2School Project, coordinated by Dr. Kerstin te Heesen and run through the SciTeach Center, culminated in a release party of new resources for schools after four years of developing responsive school-based science teaching professional development tailored to primary school teachers- needs here in Luxembourg. Supported by four years of Promoting Science to the Public (PSP) funding from the , and support from the University of Luxembourg, the Sci2School Project worked with teachers throughout Luxembourg through over 1000 hours of professional development in ways that supported them in engaging their students in science.
-The long-term relationships with the partner schools helped to build in-depth exchanges on ideas and impulses for both, the respective school AND the teacher units that were developed for all primary schools in Luxembourg,- Dr. Kerstin te Heesen sums up.
The secret behind the success of the Sci2School project lies undoubtedly in its pedagogical approach, which undergirds all SciTeach Center initiatives. -Through all of our initiatives we support teachers in using inquiry-based learning. It is a learning process that engages students in making real-world connections through exploration-, explains Dr. Sara Wilmes , research scientist in the Department of Education and social work at the Faculty of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences.
Financially supported for four years by the FNR, Sci2School was the the second PSP-Flagship grant received by the SciTeach Center (PI Dr. Siry) which aims to promote science to the public. -We are grateful for the financial support we receive for diverse projects at the Center, which has allowed us to continue to develop science education initiatives that respond to the needs of teachers. Sustainable and contextualized support of teachers is our goal through all of our initiatives-, says Director Christina Siry. Dr. Wilmes, who coordinates the SciTeach Center explains, -One of our key objectives is to provide resources that directly link to Luxembourg’s national primary school curriculum and provide support for teaching primary science in innovative and engaging ways-.
-It is a success. Sci2School has really brought society and scientists closer together through education-, rejoices Jean-Paul Bertemes. -Long-term continuity is one of the pillars of the PSP-Flagship program. I believe that the SciTeach Center is on the right track to thanks to the many relationships it has established over the past few years and the support of the University-, he concludes.
Free online resources for science teachersThe SciTeach Center Team will continue its development and support of primary teachers in science education. The results of the Sci2School Project are now available to everyone on the SciTeach Center’s website as free downloadable pedagogical resources and ideas to put in place in the classroom including how to use inquiry-based learning, and how to set up and use a makerspace, or school garden to engage students. Other initiatives will soon see the light of day since the SciTeach Center will be releasing Science Dobaussen (Science Outdoors) pedagogical resources in the Spring and has newly funded projects to support early-childhood STEM teaching, funded by the Fondation Veuve Emile Metz-Tesch, and to support Sustainability Education, funded by the André Losch Foundation. Visit the SciTeach Center on the Fourth Floor of MSA to find out more or visit sciteach.uni.lu
Curious about the SciTeach Center and its offerings for teachers? Visit our online resources at sciteach.uni.lu