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How to encourage children to take up science? Get them started young! A love of science starts in childhood. Through Henkel’s “Forscherwelt,” (Researchers’ World) education initiative, children discover the thrill of scientific experimentation. Children become researchers and get a playful introduction to science’s secrets. The initiative’s patron is Dr. Simone Bagel-Trah, Chairwoman of the Supervisory Board and the Shareholders’ Committee at Henkel. The international education initiative is looking back at five successful years. Around 10,000 children have already taken part in the initiative around the world, discovering scientific secrets by conducting over 33,000 experiments.
In 2011, Henkel set up a dedicated “Forscherwelt” center in Düsseldorf that is tailored to children’s needs. In this safe area, children can take on the role of a researcher. “Forscherwelt” has a different setup from a conventional school science lab in that it is only used for a couple of hours at a time. At “Forscherwelt” there is an experimentation zone, a rest area and designated space for exercise and discussion. A spatial concept creates an atmosphere in which the children can feel at ease and enjoy an ideal environment for learning through play. “Forscherwelt” is being established internationally at selected Henkel sites and schools under its slogan of “Act like a scientist.” Forscherwelt courses have been held regularly at the Experimentanium, a science museum for children in Moscow, since 2014. The Forscherwelt teaching materials are recognized by the Russian Ministry of Education. Forscherwelt activities have also been taking place in Argentina, Turkey and Ireland, where specially trained employees have been visiting schools and conducting experiments with children in the classroom.
At "Forscherwelt" children have the chance to conduct their first scientific experiments. The experiments touch upon the topics of glue, washing/cleaning, cosmetics, and sustainability. Kids can ask experts questions and gain insight into how research is conducted. The educational concept of "Forscherwelt" was developed by Prof. Dr. Katrin Sommer, Chair of Chemistry Didactics at Ruhr-University Bochum. During the school year, Henkel offers four elementary schools a nine-part teaching program at "Forscherwelt" every half year. Henkel employees’ children have the opportunity to take part in a one-week vacation course offered four times a year. Continuing professional development courses for teachers also take place at "Forscherwelt" on a regular basis.
The educational concept is not tied to these premises, however: Forscherwelt is now being established internationally at selected Henkel sites and schools under the motto “Forscherwelt to go”. Since 2014 the initiative has been rolled out to Russia, Argentina, Turkey and now in Irland. In June 2015 Henkel has launched its global educational initiative – Forscherwelt (researchers World) in Tallaght, Ireland
The team at Henkel Tallaght opened its doors to Citywise Education, the locally based programme that provides young people with after-school and out-of-school educational support, for a day of fun learning and experiments. Ireland is the fourth country to roll out this initiative. Back in May, Dr Ute Krupp, who leads Forscherwelt,travelled to Ireland to train 20 employees. They learnt a series of experiments that they could teach school children to introduce them to science.
The day long activity, in partnership with Citywise Education, saw 25 school children come to Tallaght to be taught simple science experiments.
Five years after the launch of the international education initiative Forscherwelt, Dr. Simone Bagel-Trah talks about the importance of education in science and explains what makes Henkel’s Forscherwelt so special.
Dr. Simone Bagel-Trah, patron of the initiative and Chairwoman of the Supervisory Board and the Shareholders’ Committee at Henkel
"Education is our most important resource. Education and enthusiasm for learning belong very closely together. Through the "Forscherwelt" initiative we aim to awake children’s curiosity at an early age, give the youngsters the confidence to ask questions, and encourage them to make new discoveries.”
Prof. Dr. Katrin Sommer, Professor of Chemistry Didactics at Ruhr University, Bochum, Germany
'Forscherwelt' gives children the opportunity to experience what being a researcher means. They learn that researchers are curious about certain things, that they have to be creative and also that they have to record their findings. People often think researchers only work in a lab – we show the children that there’s more to research than that.
Christopher Smith, Education Manager
of Citywise, commented: ‘This has been a great experience for our students. To have Henkel take an interest in educating and showing the kids that learning can be fun is fantastic. The students were really engaged and thoroughly enjoyed their day.’
According to Orla Cribbeen, Manager of Human Resources
at Henkel, the event was a huge success. ‘Henkel was delighted to team up with Citywise on this event,’ said Orla. ‘It’s great that we can help the kids from the community get involved and have a fun day of learning while showing them how much fun science can be. It’s important to us to show the students the practical and often overlooked ‘fun’ side of Science. Hopefully this has given them a real insight into what goes on at our facility on a day to day basis. This is the first ’Forscherwelt’ education day we have hosted here in Dublin and we look forward to joining forces with other schools in the future to promote Science to local children.”