Go back to article: Museums theme – Science vs technology in a museum’s display: changes in the Vienna Museum of Technology with a focus on permanent and temporary exhibitions and new forms of science education

Key project objectives

The overall aim of the project was to improve primary-school students’ competencies in experimentation (forming of hypotheses, trying out variations, deduction), acquiring knowledge, communication skills, everyday orientation, perception skills, the ability to think for oneself and science-related issues.

In addition to these research-related questions, the various modules also placed special emphasis on the children’s language skills. This is because it is not only important for children to intuitively comprehend a situation but also to be able to adequately formulate their deductions and discuss them with others. Here, factors such as a first language other than German as well as handicaps and disabilities were to be taken into account. For the participating teachers, another objective was to discover new teaching methods and learn about new science topics. For Technisches Museum Wien, the aim was to motivate teachers to introduce more science and technology-related topics in class and to make use of the Museum facilities as a non-school place of learning. In aid of this aim, teaching materials, lesson plans and practice lessons were provided. In general, the main aim was to interest primary school-age children in the methods of scientific research. The scientific method has continuously evolved since the seventeenth century and has proven remarkably successful in sciences such as physics, chemistry and medicine:

- elimination of contaminating conditions (‘lab conditions’)
- carrying out experiments
- forming a hypothesis to explain a phenomenon
- testing this hypothesis by means of further experimentation
- developing a theory
- testing the theory
- interpretation of contaminating influences in a ‘real-life’ situation.

Even simple experiments like comparing the fall velocity of a stone versus a sheet of paper can be used to demonstrate these steps (finally the influence of the aerodynamic resistance will be found out). The aim was to teach the children that scientific research requires deduction skills but also that science is just a tool created by people to describe specific aspects of the world. Once children are no longer too much in awe to ask questions in this way, the objective of ‘enquiry-based learning’ has been achieved.

The network formed by the collaboration of the University of Education in Vienna, the involved primary school classes and Technisches Museum Wien is offered as a model for the implementation of the methods of hands-on science learning in schools. The main advantages of cooperating like this include the opportunity to make use of the resources and experiences of the other institutions and the ability to learn from each other. As a teacher-training facility for young teachers, the University of Education Vienna proved an excellent partner. The Museum, in turn, could make use of its wide range of contacts with experienced teachers to provide fresh input for their teaching. In collaboration with six primary school classes, the two cooperation partners create learning environments for specific science topics in order to put research-based hands-on/minds-on science learning into practice. The University of Education in Vienna sought, as a main objective, to encourage precise thinking and intellectual curiosity. It regards scientific research as a requirement for all teachers, and a key element and basic approach to be implemented across all subjects. Another aim is the establishment of a new teaching, learning and research culture that regards heterogeneity as both a challenge for and the responsibility of teachers and teachers-to-be. The University of Education in Vienna supports students in further developing their expert and social competences. As a consequence of the project, ongoing cooperation between the Vienna Museum and the University was established and has since continued.

Component DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15180/170810/008