A country-wide resource centre to innovate science classes for the young generation.
Since its creation in 2016, the SciTeach Center, a resource center for primary school science teachers, has supported over 800 primary school teachers and made an impact in more than half of the primary schools in Luxembourg. The science teaching innovation team has now received continued funding to expand its activities in Luxembourg and launch a new project called Sci2School.
The SciTeach Center was created in a joint effort between the University of Luxembourg, the Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR), the Ministry of Education, Children and Youth (MEN), and the Ministry of Higher Education and Research. The mission of the project team, who are teachers and education researchers, is to help primary school teachers design and conduct stimulating science classes that will stir the curiosity of young pupils.
Three core activities were established for the pilot phase of the SciTeach Center (2016 -2019): to provide science teaching workshops for Luxembourg’s primary teachers, offer a resource-loan library, and develop a sustainable network of teacher support for primary science instruction.
“Science education in Luxembourg needs a change. The fact that only 10% of the weekly school programme is based on science shows us how important it is to promote a new way of teaching science in our classrooms,” explains Sandy Heinericy, MEN workshop developer. “When kids are seriously engaged in a topic, they work together and show much more interest.”
Expansion and digitalisation
The University will continue to fund the activities of the SciTeach Center in the coming years, with support from the national education ministries. In addition, the FNR’s Promoting Science to the Public scheme and the Institut de formation de l’Éducation Nationale (IFEN) are funding the new initiative, Sci2School. This new project will expand the professional workshops of the Center to several strategic locations across the country, especially intended to reach those with less access to on-campus offerings in Belval. Making pedagogical resources for teaching science available online is also a major component of the Sci2School project.
“We have worked with teachers representing over half of the primary schools in Luxembourg with our initial grant”, states Christina Siry, Professor at the University of Luxembourg and Head of the SciTeach Center. “This new phase will allow us to collaborate closer with schools across the country and strengthen the digital outlook of the Center, notably its resource library.”
Wrap-up of a successful pilot phase
During the first three years, the SciTeach Center has developed a resource collection of science instruction materials, including books and teaching resources (science models, DVDs and kits of classroom materials). The team established collaborations with actors in informal education, teacher education, and science education and serves as a resource for the University’s Bachelor of educational sciences students.
The team developed and taught over ten professional development courses for teachers on Belval campus. These courses provided innovative approaches to engage children in science classes. Course leaders used instructional strategies designed for culturally and linguistically diverse classes.
The courses at the Center are co-taught by classroom teachers and university researchers, in order to draw on differing areas of expertise. “This mixture provides a sound balance between theoretical and practical background for the participants”, continues Sandy Heinericy. “Another big advantage is the teaching method we coach, the “inquiry learning approach”, which helps making science understandable in an interesting way. Teachers who come to our workshops often feel more secure to try new things and get ideas to organise their classes”.
In total, the SciTeach Center courses from the pilot project have reached 824 pre- and in-service primary teachers. In follow-up teachers’ surveys, 98 % of respondents reported that they would recommend SciTeach Center workshops to a colleague. 94% of respondents reported that they used the didactic methods presented in workshops, and of those teachers, 100% were satisfied with the results in their classrooms.
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