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LERU-Kids-University

The University of Heidelberg and its partners are working hard on the extension of the Kids' University scheme. In November the Heidelberg model will be upgraded to the EU level in Brussels. This new stage was preceded by a joint application in the framework of the EU's Science and Society programme by Heidelberg and nine other partners in the LERU from Milan to Helsinki

The aim of the "LERU–Kids-University" science week is to promote public understanding of research and science. The target group is made up of children aged 10 to 12 years and (indirectly) their parents. Fascination with science begins with curiosity, generating such questions as: "What makes robots clever?", "Why do we speak of ‘thin’ air?" or "Why don’t the stars fall out of the sky ?" At least 1000 children at each of the 10 participating universities in 8 EU countries and Switzerland will experience exciting experiments and lectures onphysics (in its broadest sense) during the Science Week. These will demonstrate the impact of science/physics on everyday life. "So far, the Kids' University idea has been restricted more or less to German-speaking countries," says the University of Heidelberg's EU liaison officer Dr. Sigurd Weinreich, who has been connected with the application from the outset and is overjoyed at the overwhelming response to the Heidelberg initiative. "Our partner universities weredead keen on the idea and the European Commission gave the application top grading." Now there will be week-long European Kids' University programmes at all ten participating universities, from 5th to 11th November. "Physics will be the central subject of the EU Kids' University, which ties in ideally with the Year of Physics 2005," says project coordinator Dr. Jörg Kraus from the Research and Project Management department of the University of Heidelberg. "In addition we have the Einstein Year here in Germany, which also makes for a highly apposite context." A Final Event including selected experiments and lectures will take place in Brussels on the 23rd November 2005 at the Natural History Museum Sciences in the Vautierstraat. The afternoon event in Brussels will be followed by an evening reception for invited representatives from the LERU network, the EU institutions and the Press. "Right from the outset one of our main objectives was to go beyond the event character of the Kids' University and make it into a focal point for an ongoing programme for children and young people and to extend this from the local level to a regional and international scale," says Dr. Jörg Kraus. "One of our priorities is to enhance the scope of the contacts between the academic world and society as a whole. Lifelong learning is a new challenge for the universities. New networks and sponsoring by the SAP AG and BASF companies in the framework of the 'Youth and Science Initiative in the Rhine-Neckar Metropolis Region' are helping to establish these new approaches at the regional and international level." The active presence of female scientists as key members of the project is designed to show that the natural sciences are, of course, equally accessible for women. In collaboration with media partners these messages will also be communicated to a broad public audience. The European context of the LERU-Kids-University will be presented in an exhibition. Each partner will be introduced in a poster, ensuring that the background of the science week becomes comprehensible. The exhibition will be accompanied by short films about the participating universities. The message of the Kids-University will be: Universities are partners in lifelong learning and this can take place at a European or international level. Barriers to the understanding of the daily use of physics should be identified and overcome. The principal objective is to foster interest in science and physics on the part of children in Europe. For more information, please refer to our website: http://www.leru-kids-university.org/ On the above home page there are links to the local programmes: 8 of the LERU partners will have their Kids University Week from 5th - 11th November 2005. Leiden and Leuven will have their Kids University Week from: 26th - 30th October 2005. Photographs are provided by David Ausserhofer from the Kuenheim Stiftung.

Countries

Germany