Tschira-Jugendakademie pupils get hands-on during day of DNA barcoding. PHOTO: Rikk Villa
For just one day, PhD students could no longer claim the title of ‘youngest researchers’ at EMBL. That honour went to the 13 students aged 11 to 17 who conducted a full-day experiment in the EMBL training labs as part of the Tschira-Jugendakademie at the end of August this year.
Initially created as a one-time ‘summer camp’ programme, the Tschira-Jugendakademie is a project of the Klaus Tschira Stiftung, a German foundation that supports natural sciences, mathematics and computer science. The Tschira-Jugendakademie owes its existence to Nina Schaller, a former researcher at the University of Heidelberg. Honoured with an award for ‘understandable science’ by the Klaus Tschira Stiftung in 2009, she was inspired to create a curriculum that would immerse youngsters in a wide range of biological disciplines for five days at a time. “My idea was to teach the kids things that they wouldn’t otherwise have access to, and do really awesome, hands-on projects with full-time biologists,” says Schaller.
The first session ran during the summer of 2011, and it was so successful that all of the nearly 70 students who participated wanted to do it again. In the three years since its inception, the Tschira-Jugendakademie has grown from a one-week course into a cycle of four different week-long curricula, and has partnered with a variety of research and education institutions to provide the experts and environments that make the programme such a success, including the University of Heidelberg, Senckenberg Museum in Frankfurt, the Heidelberg Zoo and the Haus der Astronomie.
Life Science Learning
EMBL has a longstanding tradition of providing training courses for science teachers through its European Learning Laboratory for the Life Sciences (ELLS). Its goal is to provide continuing professional development to secondary school science teachers, onsite at EMBL Heidelberg, at our outstations and at research institutions in our member states that are interested in adopting its successful model. In addition, ELLS runs a School Ambassadors Programme and offers interactive webinars, e-learning modules and more teaching resources via its ‘EMBLog’ website. Linking teachers with EMBL scientists and providing opportunities to learn about the latest developments in the life sciences – so that teachers can pass that knowledge on to their students – is a hallmark of ELLS activities.