As I write this, the children in my village have been back at school for two weeks. The school just down the road, however, doesn’t start again for another two weeks. If school holidays – and indeed school types, curricula and teacher training – differ so much within Germany, how much variation must there be across Europe?
Nonetheless, some of the challenges for science teachers are the same wherever you are in the world. How to inspire your students? How to share the fascination of science? And how to keep yourself up to date with the latest scientific developments?
Supporting you in these challenges is what Science in School is all about. In this issue, for example, we have suggestions to motivate even the least enthusiastic students. They could synthesise indigo – treasured by the Egyptian pharaohs and still used to dye jeans – or investigate how we trick our brains into perceiving 2D pictures as 3D. Drinking wine at school is probably not a good idea, but producing and analysing wine introduces a wide range of chemistry topics. And if you teach younger children, they can discover for themselves how materials change when we heat them.
Whether you are looking for cutting-edge science for your lessons or simply feeding your own thirst for knowledge, Science in School has plenty to offer. Did you know, for example, that genetic analysis is used to combat the illegal wildlife trade in Brazil? Or are you puzzled by the behaviour of an autistic student? Next time you teach the electromagnetic spectrum, you could show how radiation is used to monitor what goes on in a fusion reactor and to investigate the mysteries of the distant Universe. And if you think you’ve already mastered all there is to know about crystal structure, maybe it’s time to think again?
Colleagues can be source of inspiration – but they don’t have to be the teachers down the corridor. Earlier this year, a group of teachers from Austria, Germany and Italy travelled to Spain to learn from a truly inspirational primary school. Clearly, that’s not possible for every teacher, which is why we regularly introduce you to inspiring European teachers: in this issue, find out how a Polish teacher rose to the challenge of teaching physics to disabled children.
Finally, don’t forget that many of our articles are available online in other European languages, thanks to volunteer translators across Europe. To view all the articles in your language, just click on the relevant flag on our website. And if you’d like to translate our articles into your native language, we’d love to hear from you.