"NanoBiNE" is a broad training initiative that is carried out by the Department of Chemistry of the University of Hildesheim in cooperation with the University of Göttingen, Oldenburg, and the IPN Kiel.
The project is funded by the German Federal Environmental Foundation.
The aim is to combine current scientific research content with social issues and to promote education for sustainable development (ESD).
"NanoBiNE" includes the extension of existing student lab concepts, aims to implement newly developed lessons in mainstream education, and develops training for teachers that is widely offered by local educational institutions.
Civil Society and Progress
New technologies and scientific developments are associated with high expectations, despite always posing a potential risk to humans and the environment. Historical examples in which the risk potential was underestimated are easy to come by: nuclear power, DDT, CFC, genetic engineering, etc. Last but not least, these experiences contributed to the realization that scientific progress must go hand in hand with critical assessment processes which lead to responsible decisions even in ambiguous informational situations. Nothing can be left to experts alone, but must also be discussed through social discourses. These negotiation processes can only produce legitimate judgments if all those concerned use a rational-reflexive exchange with their knowledge and their values.
Evaluational Competence and Education for Sustainable Development
The ability to participate in these discourses is described in the National Educational Standards with the competence "Assessment". While "evaluation competence" primarily focuses on the rationality of a weighing process, the concept of education for sustainable development (BnE) provides an ethical orientation framework. It is important to consider ecological, economic, and social consequences while taking into account intra- and intergenerational justice.
There is a need for learning opportunities to develop evaluation skills in the sense of a GNI, and supply is still too low, especially since technological advances always raise new issues that need to be addressed by the lesson. Even out-of-school educational institutions often focus on providing subject-related content and methods.
The project "NanoBiNE - Nanotechnologies in the Context of Education for Sustainable Development" is a training initiative that develops and provides learning opportunities and lessons on ESD based on current issues.
As a thematic framework, "nanotechnologies" are particularly suitable for exemplifying the challenges of progress-oriented democratic societies.
1. Many applications in the field of "nanotechnology" are controversial to discuss. There is hardly enough information available for final evaluations. Nevertheless, decisions have to be made. Societal discourses on technology assessment can be ideally represented here.
2. The thematic framework with nanotechnology is stretched far enough to address ecological evaluation competencies in all three scientific disciplines and - in combination - to be able to discuss and evaluate very different technological applications. This is reflected in the different focuses of the participating locations. Sustainability-oriented interdisciplinarity is promoted.
3. The term "nano" has a positive connotation for the public and at the same time, very little information is actually known about it. While terms such as "genetic engineering" or "nuclear power" spontaneously trigger a skeptical attitude in many people, the prefix "Nano" is usually used specifically for advertising purposes. The experience of the contrast between a spontaneous positive attitude and a critical position, as it is supported by the examination of concrete nanotechnological applications, makes the need for an informed discourse on technology assessment for students necessary.
What is specifically planned?
The training initiative "NanoBiNE" comprises of four training modules:
1. Extension of existing student laboratory concepts in Hildesheim and Göttingen to include the social evaluation dimension in the sense of a GNI. To simulate a socially discursive decision-making process, a simulation game is developed, which is then carried out in the classroom and used in the technical content from the laboratory phase but can also be critically scrutinized.
2. Development for the teaching of suitable comprehensive units according to the method of participatory education research in Hildesheim and Göttingen. Units address all competencies required in the National Education Standards for Lower Secondary Science. These lessons will be tested and optimized by the participating teachers during the project.
3. Trained teachers at their respective schools will then receive certificates as ESD coaches and material to initiate ESD days and workgroups.
4. The lesson units developed in the second step form the basis for continuing education events. The training includes a period of testing of the material by the teachers, followed by an opportunity for mutual reflection. The training courses are initially carried out by the participating locations. Co-operation with regional training institutes ensures the success of this project beyond its initial duration.
At the end of the project, a conference was held nationwide focusing on the presentation and multiplication of the project's results.
After the end of the funding period, the student laboratories will continue to receive funds from Hildesheim and Göttingen, the advanced training courses will be offered by regional institutions and the teaching materials will be made permanently available via the Online Platforms of the respective locations.
The project results are published in professional journals, the conference papers in book form. In a follow-up project, in which the results of the accompanying research will be incorporated, with regard to the effectiveness of the newly developed student labs, further student laboratory concepts will be extended by the dimension of technology assessment for the promotion of BnE.
Could we interest you in "NanoBiNE"?
If you would like to visit one of our student laboratories with a group, attend further education seminars, or if you just want more information, please contact us by e-mail. We appreciate your interest!
Your contacts in Hildesheim:
+49 5121 / 883-40760
+49 5121 / 883-40770