New Perspectives in Science Education

Edition 14

Accepted Abstracts

Teach Chemistry Forward: An Innovative Course Concept for Universities and Schools

Timm Wilke, Institute of Environmental and Sustainable Chemistry, University of Braunschweig (Germany)

Björn Bartram, Institute of Environmental and Sustainable Chemistry, University of Braunschweig (Germany)

Simone Karrie, Zoological Institute, Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology, University of Braunschweig (Germany)

Martin Korte, Zoological Institute, Cellular Neurobiology, University of Braunschweig (Germany)

Reinhard Köster, Zoological Institute, Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology, University of Braunschweig (Germany)

Marc Walter, Institute of Inorganic and Analytical Chemistry, Technische Universität Braunschweig (Germany)

Manuel Wejner, Institute of Environmental and Sustainable Chemistry, University of Braunschweig (Germany)


The lack of qualified specialists and STEM teachers poses a big challenge to both the industry and the educational systems. In several countries (Belgium, France, Germany, UK …) recent studies show a further decrease in the number of graduates in these disciplines, which will be insufficient to meet the demand. Chemistry is particularly affected [1] - despite the good working conditions (high salary, future reliability), more than 70 % of all pupils cannot imagine to take up a profession in this field of activity [2]. This results mainly from the fact that students perceive chemistry as ‘hard’ or ‘abstract’ and only rarely have a clear concept of chemistry studies, professional fields and activities [3,4].

In this contribution, we present a course concept for universities designed to address these challenges. The basic idea consists of the self-responsible preparation of a selected subject matter in chemistry or biology for school education. While chemistry, biology and didactics professors provide infrastructure and assistance if needed, STEM students and student teachers develop teaching materials and experiments independently in tandems. Subsequent to an internal piloting, they pass on their original learning content as a teacher to pupils in our partner school network.

This project offers several positive outcomes. With the help of selected examples we want to illustrate that (1) pupils gain insights into current scientific research topics and STEM degree programs, guided by highly motivated students, (2) STEM students acquire basic didactic knowledge during transfer from input to output and further gain experience in explaining their expertise to nonprofessionals, which represents a valuable key qualification for their future work life and (3) teacher students can deepen their scientific knowledge and gain practical experiences in schools.

Keywords: Cooperation School-University, Didactic Reconstruction, Science Education;


[1] National Academy of Science and Engineering, MINT Nachwuchsbarometer 2015, Munich 2015.
[2] IMPULS Foundation (2014): Image der Berufe und Faktoren der Entscheidungsfindung bei der jugendlichen Zielgruppe. Frankfurt. 
[3] Weßnigk, S., Euler, M., Chemkon 2014, 21 (3), p. 123.
[4] Freyer, K., Zum Einfluss von Studieneingangsvoraussetzungen auf den Studienerfolg Erstsemesterstudieren-der im Fach Chemie, Logos, Berlin, 2013.
[5] Schmidt, H. G., Wagener, S. L., Smeets, G. A., Keemink, L. M., van der Molen, H. T. (2015). Health Professions Education 1 (1), pp. 12–18.
[6] Freeman, S., Eddy, S. L., McDonough, M., Smith, M. K., Okoroafor, N., Jordt, H., Wenderoth, M. P. (2014). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 111 (23), pp. 8410–8415.
[7] Karrie, S., Korte, M., Köster, R. BIOspektrum 2014, 20 (6), pp. 704–705.

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