Being Like a Researcher – the Teaching Concept Behind Forscherwelt

The teaching concept and its practical implementation at the one-week vacation courses for elementary school students are in the hands of Dr. Katrin Sommer, Professor of Chemistry Didactics at Ruhr University Bochum, Germany.

The teaching concept focuses on the experience of "being like a researcher."
The construct of scientific literacy forms the theoretical basis. Scientific literacy covers both knowledge of science (conceptual knowledge) and knowledge about science (knowledge of its methods and objectives).

Putting the concept into practice involves basic activities that are very closely linked to the research process. Children have firm ideas about science and scientists:

  • Children believe that scientists are not just intelligent but also creative. The Forscherwelt concept is designed to confirm the children's idea about this fundamental characteristic.
  • A creative idea alone isn't enough, however. To bring the idea to fruition, the children need experimental skills, patience, stamina and a methodical, systematic approach.
  • The children see researchers as people who work alone. This is not generally the case, however. Scientists constantly communicate with other people, report their findings in scientific journals or present their work at lectures – which means they don't just work in a lab. Dialog between experts and the children during the research week is therefore of key importance.

The children's experiences at Forscherwelt allow them to implicitly add these basic activities to their understanding of "knowledge about science". The content of the courses is based on research areas at Henkel.