Technasium

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Students visit a wharf for a project about design for safety of ships © Stichting Technasium

Students visit a wharf for a project about design for safety of ships  
© Stichting Technasium

Aims

Technasium schools form networks that aim to reform the science curriculum at school level guided by competencies derived from S&T-studies at polytechnics and the workplace.

Argument for inclusion

Technasium is a school initiative that has proven to be trans-ferable; at the core is a subject called Research & Design that has been developed with a major contribution of schools.

Relevant information in short

Main Research Partners

Several polytechnic universities and universities

Educational partners

Secondary schools leading to polytechnic universities and to universities.

Other partners

Private industries

Age classes

12 - 19

Thematic orientation

Science & Technology education and school development

Main Focus

Innovation of the science curriculum through the introduction of research and design as main learning activities

Duration of activity

From 2004 onwards

Resources

A Technasium school pays a yearly contribution of € 2250, further contributions are made in kind (mostly time) by all participants,
each network of Technasium schools raises its own additional funds

Website

www.technasium.nl

Contact person

Expertisecentrum Technasium, Ms Judith Lechner,  info@technasium.nl

Context and conditions

The Technasium formula has been developed by a network of 5 secondary schools in the province of Groningen in the north of the Netherlands. The formula has been adopted by school networks in other parts of the Netherlands meanwhile.
In the pilot phase prospective member schools have to meet a set of criteria:

  • form a regional network of 5 schools and establish links with higher education (a polytechnic and a university) and private enterprises;
  • formulate a project plan to fund and realise the aims of the Technasium ;
  • work out a plan of activities including in-service training of school staff and try outs to gain experience with delivering the subject Research & Design at school level;
  • carry out a full scale R&D pilot project at school level.

When all criteria are met the school is awarded the title Technasium  for a period of 4 years. Privileges and duties are laid down in a contract. After this 4 year period an audit is performed by the Foundation Technasium. When the outcome is positive, the title can be extended for another period of 4 years.
Technasium is a registered trademark. The subject Research & Design is recognised by the Ministry of Education as an official subject. It is concluded with a school exam.

Activities and Contents

  • to facilitate contacts between schools, educational developers and private enterprise to form regional networks to innovate science education;
  • to develop a coherent longitudinal technasium science curriculum for secondary schools, programmes of study and learning materials;
  • to facilitate the implementation, evaluation and improvement of the technasium science curriculum

The foundation Technasium maintains a small expertise centre that stimulates and facilitates the development of technasium schools at the regional and nationale level.

Methodologies

The Technasium  concept requires a number of conditions. Schools

solar bob ©Technasium Hondsrug College webpages
  1. offer Research & Design as part of the school curriculum in all years. Related school subjects are linked to R&D and support and deepen students understanding and competencies;
  2. cooperate with further (science) education and the world of work to enable students to experience the creativity and the wide range of opportunities for careers in science and technology;
  3. develop a hands-on and minds-on methodology of teaching and learning. Learning activities should stimulate the mind, curiosity and creativity of students;
  4. have workshop rooms available specially designed for research & design activities. All students have access to the workshop rooms during opening hours of the school;
  5. develop a school culture that is that is favourable for the teaching and learning of science and technology

Curriculum relevance

Technasium is a school concept with a distinct science curriculum based on inquiry learning and cooperative learning. 
The school subject Research & Design forms the core of the technasium school concept. In the course of their 5 or 6 year school career students get aquainted with the process of conducting research and with various aspects of the design process. Over the years the assignments get more complex and more emphasis is laid on research and design methods and skills. The competencies acquired are derived from the competencies that graduates of polytechnics and universities need at the workplace. Ideally R&D assignments are hands-on and minds-on projects.
On a content level connections are made with relevant other subjacts in the school curriculum: every R&D assingment is multidisciplinary in nature. The monodisciplinary schoolsubjects play a supportive role.

Lab work  ©Technasium J. Bosch College  website

In lower secondary students work on 4 R&D project assignment every school year. An R&D project is a cooperative learning experience: a project group of student work on the project for 6 lesson hours per week during a period of 7 weeks. In the school year preceding graduation every student works on two extended R&D projects of their own choice. In the last year the R&D curriculum is finalized by a master project, that is part of the school exam.

Other outcomes

For students it, ideally, creates a learning environment that:
Ÿ  stimulates curiosity and inquiry
Ÿ  that enables and facilitates students to discover and develop their preferences and strenghts
Ÿ  that brings students into contact with interesting developments in the world of science & technology, s&t-professionals, their work and careers
Ÿ  that provides a curricullum that both broad and deep
Upon graduation every student has developed his/her own R&D-portfolio.

For teachers, ideally, it creates a school and work environment with new roles and competencies:
Ÿ  developing curriculum beyond the bounderies of traditional monosubjects and the school walls
Ÿ  a new role as a teacher: facilitating the learning process of learners during R&D assignments
Ÿ  new forms of assessing the learning process: evaluating both product and process
Ÿ  cooperate with colleagues in higher education and in private enterprise

Mutual benefits  

All partners in a network share the workload in developing materials and procedures. On a regular basis experiences are shared.

Industry is supporting Technasium Schools

The Union of Employers BZW, that represents 300 companies in the south west of the Netherlands, is encouraging its members to support Technasia in the region by providing time, knowledge and assignments. "There is a great demand for technicians in our region," says A. Saman of BZW. "Vacancies are difficult to fill up. At Technasia students get into touch with technical companies and get aquanted with a technological way of thinking and working. We hope that this stimulates them to persue a career in science and technology".
[source: NRC-Next,  May 16, 2008]

How do Technasium schools get their R&D-assignments?

The data base of  the Foundation Technasium contains some 50 real life assignments that students can work on during R&D hours. They come from a wide range of  companies in the private and public sector e.g. an oil/gas-company, a zoo, the regional waterboard, a shipping wharf.
Some examples: make cosmetics by using mud as resource material, design an interactive information game for diabetic patients, design living quarters for apes in a zoo; design tools for physically handicapped; explore the possibilities for colonisation of space; find ways to make henp fibres supple for clothing;
In solving the problems during researching and designing students draw on knowledge and skills from subject as: physics, chemistry, biology, health studies, geography and mathematics.
[ source: NRC-Next,  May 16, 2008]

Evaluation /feedback

In the initial phase the prospective member schools have to meet strict criteria in order to be admitted to the Technasium network; when admitted a system of quality assurance within the regional network is  set in place for evaluation and improvement. Every 4 years an audits by the Technasium expertise centre is carried out.

Limits and possibilities  

The foundation Technasium is limiting the number of new networks: per year no more than 2 regional networks of 5 schools each can obtain the status of a full fledged Technasium network. A Technasium school devotes a considerable amount of time (lesson hours) and budget to implementing the concept. Since time and money are limited and can only be spent once, it rules out other options, so conscious choices have to be made.