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Diversity in Student Laboratories

March 13, 2018

Annual meeting of the student laboratories in Kiel

From March 11th – 13th, 2018, student lab teachers from German-speaking countries met at Kiel University (CAU) for the annual conference of the non-profit organization "LernortLabor (LeLa) - Federal Association of Student Laboratories". The IPN and the CAU as well as the Kieler Werkstatt (a joint institute of the CAU and IPN) are co-organizers of the event.

The theme of this year's conference was "Diversity in Student Laboratories - Target Groups, Topics and Methods". During the three day event, approximately 200 participants were looking for ways to further develop extracurricular learning opportunities in STEM in such a way that they address every child and adolescent ranging from highly gifted to disadvantaged.

From left to right: Prof. Dr. Ilka Parchmann, Vice President of the CAU and Department Head at the IPN, Prof. Dr. Mojib Latif from the Geomar Helmholtz Center for Oceanography in Kiel, who gave the opening lecture on 'Oceans in Climate Change', and Dr. Katrin Knickmeier, Head of the Kieler Forschungswerkstatt.

In his welcoming address, Prof. Dr. Rolf Hempelmann, the first chairman of LernortLabor, emphasized the diversity of the continuously developing programs in student laboratories:” In addition to the classical courses in the MINT subjects, there are also increasing numbers of courses in the humanities, social sciences and cultural sciences. Workshops in which the students develop and manufacture products, portable programs or student laboratory networks such as the network of student research centers in Schleswig-Holstein are also increasingly complementing the range of scientific student laboratories."

With this conference in Kiel, LernortLabor returns to its roots. Launched in 2004 as a BMBF project at the IPN, creating the association has succeeded in establishing a stable structure and ensuring continual exchange of experiences between the extra-curricular learning locations and laboratories in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Professor Ilka Parchmann, Kiel University Vice President and Department Head at the IPN, also sees such an exchange in student laboratories such as the Kieler Forschungswerkstatt. Out-of-school places of learning are meeting places" says Parchmann. "Young people meet science here, and at the same time an exchange between science and teaching takes place. Both sides benefit."

Renate Treutel, City Councilor for Education and Youth, was also pleased to welcome the conference participants in Kiel. In order to prevent a shortage of skilled workers in STEM, it is important to inspire students and give them a lasting enthusiasm for these subjects. This experience would offer students opportunities with everyday relevance. Treutel closed wishing "more LeLa in Kiel and in Germany" in the future.

About LernortLabor (LeLa) - Federal Association of Student Laboratories:
The association represents extracurricular places of learning focusing on independent work, exploring, research and development in an authentic environment, such as a laboratory or workshop. At the same time, LernortLabor promotes networking of the student laboratories on a national and international level and supports regional networks and local cooperation among its members. The members receive support in their professional development and quality assurance as well as in the accompanying research for the scientific evaluation of the student laboratories. Last but not least, LernortLabor forms a platform for the creation and establishment of new student laboratories as well as for the (further) development of new formats.

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