Upper secondary school teachers and researchers inspire each other across disciplines

On Friday 27 January 2023, natural science teachers at upper secondary schools gathered at the Faculty of Natural Sciences for a joint inspiration day. This led to debate, knowledge sharing and inspiration across AU and upper secondary schools – and across disciplines.

Vice-dean Kristine Kilså welcomed upper secondary school teachers within the natural sciences to the inspiration day Photo: Lise R. L. Pedersen
At the exhibition stands, participants could find inspiration for their teaching with suggestions for class visits and teaching materials Photo: Julie Nørgaard Hostrup.
A chemistry teacher and a physics teacher are working together to create a Li-ion battery at the Department of Chemistry at one of the afternoon workshops Photo: Jacob Laust Hviid

Last week, Aarhus University hosted an inspiration day for upper secondary school science teachers.

The morning included joint presentations for all participants, and in the afternoon participants were divided into workshops according to their subjects.

A day of inspiration and dialogue across disciplines

The purpose of the day was to give upper secondary school teachers an academic boost, new ideas for teaching and an opportunity to talk to colleagues and peers. The programme was planned so that the upper secondary school teachers could talk to teachers from other subjects about possibilities for interdisciplinary collaboration.

"It was nice to get some inspiration for my work. I've already talked with my class’ chemistry teacher, and together we want to try out the workshop material this spring!" says Sonja Arlt after the visit. She teaches physics and mathematics at Tradium technical and business college in Randers.

The upper secondary school teachers were not the only ones to receive inspiration and academic input from the day. At the Department of Chemistry, Professor Dorthe Ravnsbæk facilitated a workshop where participants tested a new practical exercise on rechargeable batteries.

"We hope that this exercise will be used in upper secondary schools in the future and help to strengthen focus and interest in future challenges relating to resource scarcity and energy storage. It was valuable to get input from the teachers on how the exercise could be improved and adjusted so that they can better use it in their teaching."

A morning of presentations

The day began with a number of presentations. Associate Professor Niels Lauritzen (Department of Mathematics) talked about digital mathematics at the university and the transition from upper secondary school with examples from WolframAlpha and ChatGPT. This gave rise to laughter and discussion.

The participants also heard Professor Kurt Gothelf (Department of Chemistry and the Interdisciplinary Nanoscience Center) talk about how you can change proteins chemically so that they can be used in the development of new cancer treatments, for example.

Aurelian Romain Dantan (Department of Physics and Astronomy) talked about the 2022 Nobel laureates in physics, and took the audience on a journey from the time quantum mechanics was mostly a philosophical discussion to the present and its use in quantum technologies such as quantum encryption.

Afternoon of workshops and practical exercises

During the breaks, the teachers could visit a wide range of exhibition stands at which the Science Museums, the natural science journal Aktuel Naturvidenskab, the Rolling University and several of the visitors’ service units representing the various natural science degree programmes at Aarhus University talked about their activities and what they could offer. Here, teachers could find inspiration with suggestions for class visits and teaching material.

In the afternoon, the participants attended workshops where they could make Li-ion batteries and gold nanoparticles for biosensors, work with the mathematics behind neural networks or test different tools to integrate computational thinking in their teaching.

A day for upper secondary school teachers is important for NAT

"This is the first time NAT is hosting a joint day for upper secondary school teachers where several departments at NAT have contributed either through presentations or workshops. We hope that the participants have become curious about our services for upper secondary schools. The day is valuable for NAT as it strengthens our collaboration with upper secondary schools where our talented future students are being prepared for university life," says Vice-dean Kristine Kilså.


Further information

Vice-dean Kristine Kilså
Aarhus University
Faculty of Natural Sciences
E-mail: kkj@au.dk