University of Bayreuth, Media release No. 005/2021, January 18th 2021
Teacher training on microplastics: How distance learning on current research topics can succeed
Cutting-edge research and distance learning - the University of Bayreuth is bringing these two topics together. Next Wednesday, the Centre for Teacher Education at University of Bayreuth is organizing an online training course for high school teachers on the topic of microplastics. This will not only bring the latest research results from experts in the field of research into the classroom. There will also be aids for distance teaching.
Microplastics are turning teachers back into learners: where does research stand right now? Teaching under coronavirus conditions also turns teachers into learners: What innovative school experiments does distance teaching allow? These current challenges are addressed by the latest teacher training programe at the University of Bayreuth.
"Microplastics is an excellent example of the constant need for further training," says Prof. Dr. Franz X. Bogner, Chair of Didactics of Biology. He notes: "Even young teachers have not yet studied the topic in depth during their studies; microplastics have only become a hotspot of research in the past five years or so. However, science teachers are rightly expected to be able to have a say in such new research topics, not only from the knowledge side, but also from the student experiment side.
Teachers in Upper Franconia and Upper Palatinate are at an advantage in this respect: right on their doorstep, at the University of Bayreuth, world-class research is being conducted on the topic of microplastics. Here, a good 30 scientists from different three focus areas are researching together in 16 interdisciplinary teams in the Collaborative Research Centre " Microplastics - laws of formation, transport, physical-chemical behaviour and biological effects: From Model to Complex Systems as the Basis for New Approaches ". This means that the formation, migration and effects of microplastics are being researched in Bayreuth, and new approaches to solving this immense environmental problem are being developed.
The teacher training takes place within the framework of the PLAWES project. In the morning, three lectures give an overview from the front line of research: Microplastics from a polymer perspective will be explained by Prof. Dr. Peter Strohriegl (Chair of Macromolecular Chemistry I), the research topic of microplastics will be presented by SFB spokesperson Prof. Dr. Laforsch (Chair of Animal Ecology I), and analytical methods in the field of microplastics will be explained by Dr. Martin Löder (Chair of Animal Ecology I).
Patricia Raab, a doctoral student in the didactics of biology, will have the teachers conduct experiments for distance learning during the second half of the day. "Teachers will get to know new, innovative student experiments in the student lab, which they can then use in their own lessons," Bogner says. In this advanced training course, teachers learn about student experiments by trying them out themselves. This didactic reduction and reconstruction of subject knowledge in suitable simple school experiments "is the real feat of successful implementation in schools", says Bogner, who knows: "Instructing, carrying out and mutually discussing experiments at a distance will be the great challenge this time.” The teachers have received the experimental materials in advance, and the instructions and implementations will take place via Zoom. Patricia Raab will also present the empirical results of her doctoral thesis, which provides assistance for the successful implementation of the "water classroom" in schools.