For those who have the desire and will to cultivate professional interests even more.
Trades and industries, as well as the health sector, demand employees with knowledge of and skills in natural sciences. But in Denmark, too few students pursue further education to become for example engineers, computer specialists, doctors, nurses, laboratory technicians or pharmacists.
Teachers of science subjects at Grenaa Gymnasium are focused on increasing their students’ interest in natural sciences, and this has, among other things, resulted in a donation of Dkr 1,3 millions from one of Denmark’s largest medical companies Novo Nordic.
A part of the donation has been allocated for a mini-exploratorium where students can work on their own and over a longer period of time with science projects of their interest.
Claus Løvgren is one of the experienced Physics teachers at Grenaa Gymnasium. In recent years, he has taken part in developing roller-coaster physics that received public funding. The new project funded by Novo Nordic is partly a further development from this. “Our expectations are that by offering the students a playful approach to science, their interest will grow and thus their learning outcome improve. Play, passion and purpose are key concepts for us,” Claus Løvgren explains.
Claus Løvgren and Kasper Severinsen, who teaches biology at Grenaa Gymnasium, are the main architects behind the project. They explain that part of the inspiration comes from the IB Diploma that Grenaa Gymnasium has offered since 2003.
“In IB Biology the students must learn to design and carry out experiments. They are not simply handed an instruction to follow,” Kasper Severinsen explains. “My experience is that it furthers better learning dialogue and a more fruitful teacher-student relation when they work on projects they have defined themselves and in small groups.”
He continues, “In the beginning, they might be frustrated that their experiments fail. But once they have accepted that they have to try and err, they become passionate and motivated.”
“So it is obvious that we must try to implement these didactical insights to the two national Danish upper-secondary programmes at Grenaa Gymnasium, STX and HF. With the Exploratorium and the new equipment we have been able to purchase, we can give go-ahead to many more student projects than previously,” Claus Løvgren says.
He continues, “In the physics units a minor part of the lessons will be allocated for student projects and for self-study time. In the project time, the students who wish so can go to the Exploratorium and research a topic or phenomena in depth.” Claus Løvgren further explains that in the self-study time the students will practice basic science skills, like applying formulars and concepts. To support this a digital platform is being developed that will allow the students to practice and make mistakes without anyone but the teacher looking over their shoulder. “We have high expectations regarding the synergy between traditional class room teaching, student projects and self-study time.”
Also the local municipal schools will benefit from the new Exploratorium. In the past two years, Grenaa Gymnasium has been part of a locally based science subject network and has offered laboratory based classes, called Science Lab, for senior-year pupils. The Exploratorium will offer them even better facilities for carrying out experiments they would not otherwise be able to.