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Start Them Early and Keep Them Involved – Examples for Outreach Activities with Children

Author(s): Eva Fenrich

Linked Author(s): Eva Fenrich

Keywords: Outreach; Youth involvement; Science for children

Abstract: Usually when we talk about youth engagement in the hydro-environment science and engineering we look into how students and young professionals can be included in our international networks. Universities and research institutions hold open days for the general public that might include some activities for younger participants but generally engaging people into the field starts at the level of undergraduate students. Even though professional opportunities are good oftentimes we face difficulties to get the brightest minds to even consider studying water related fields. One way to mitigate this is to offer outreach activities by universities and companies as well as individual professionals bringing their knowledge to the general public and especially to children and youth. This paper aims at describing possibilities for bringing scientific and technical knowledge into an experiential approach for teaching children. The main focus will be on courses taught on after school programs for gifted and talented children at primary school age also detailing how these differ from similar courses taught to a broader audience at a similar age including a summer university for disadvantaged youth. A major learning in developing these courses is that methods from laboratory and fieldwork courses aimed at university level students can be adapted to younger audiences by teaching a simplified theoretical framework and focusing mainly on the experimental and by design experiential parts. To foster an understanding for science methodology the children are taught to run series of experiments using single parameter variation. Documentation of experimental results is taught in a manner that supports creativity and is age and education level adapted. The courses bring the field of hydro-environment into the focus of both the children and their families and also foster a general understanding of scientific methodology. As these after school programs have a high percentage of female participants it can also be hoped that this will bring more women into the field in the future.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.3850/IAHR-39WC2521711920221547

Year: 2022

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