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MPR - Reflecting on the nature of science using examples from the SFB 958

Prinzipal Investigator

Prof. Dr. Petra Skiebe-Corrette, FU Berlin; Prof. Dr. Dirk Krüger, FU Berlin

Within the public relations project (P-project), four different projects will address four different target groups (junior scientists, pre-service science teachers, high school students, and the interested public including teachers). The aim of these projects is to explain the scientific content and methods of SFB 958. In addition, the P-project also will facilitate a meta-reflection on the nature of science (NoS), see [1]). Basis is the NoS understanding of the SFB 958, itself. The projects will reflect on the social and cultural influence as well as on creativity and imagination in science, on observation and inference, the certainty of scientific knowledge concerning models, theories, and laws, and on the diversity of scientific methods [1, 2, 3]. NoS is an intricate part of a SFB: Science is performed in the laboratory or in the office using a variety of research methods. New theoretical ideas are developed and social exchange takes place. New advances occur when combining the results from multiple interdisciplinary fields.

In order to develop the four different projects for the different target groups and to investigate the NoS understanding in these target groups, a doctoral position is requested in the p-project. The Ph.D. student will be supervised by the neurobiologist Prof. Dr. Skiebe-Corrette and the biology educator Prof. Dr. Krüger.   

Project 1: Target group junior scientists of the SFB 958

A new module on science communication will be developed for the integrated graduate college. Within this module the junior scientists will be encouraged to reflect explicitly on the epistemological aspects of their own research [3]. One focus here is reflecting on NoS aspects. They will also be trained to convey their research to an interested public in a comprehensible way. In order to do so, the junior scientists will together with the doctoral candidate develop short videos (vignettes) in which they explain an essential aspect of their work in SFB 958 related to NoS. These vignettes will be used in the following projects.

Project 2: Target group pre-service science teachers

PIs and postdocs will participate in a seminar for biology master´s pre-service science teachers, in order to convey scientific contents and methods of the SFB. To make these lectures available long-term and possibly to a wider audience, screencasts of these lectures will be created. In a laboratory course, the pre-service science teachers will learn four experiments, which all have a connection to the current research of the SFB 958. One of the experiments will be a newly designed experiment that reflects the research of the SFB 958 (crystallization and X-ray structure analysis of scaffold proteins, TP A12). In addition, the doctoral candidate will add the development of NoS perspectives to the seminar [4]. After finishing the laboratory course, the pre-service science teachers will teach high school students who visit the Schülerlabor. They will not only teach the neurobiological subject matter underlying the experiments but will also initiate the development of epistemological competences in the sense of NoS [3].

Project 3: Target group high school students

Courses for entire high school courses (about 2000 students/year): The newly designed SFB 958-specific experiment will be integrated into the existing neurobiology courses of two different Schülerlabore, the NatLab of the Freie Universität Berlin (FUB) and the Gläsernes Labor of the Max Delbrück Center (MDC). In addition, the high school students will have access to video vignettes of the junior scientists (project 1) and thus get an insight into the current research of the SFB 958.

Highly interested high school students (about 50 students per year): Students who are particularly interested in science can attend neurobiology courses during school holidays. Visits to SFB 958 laboratories and scientists will be part of these holiday courses. The project "NATürlich Mädchen" of the NatLab allows young women an insight into the careers of female scientists. Female scientists of the SFB 958 will participate in "NATürlich Mädchen".

Project 4: Target group the interested public including teachers

Teachers are required to take part in a preparatory course before they can visit NatLab with their students. In the preparatory course, the teachers perform the experiments themselves and receive information on how to prepare and follow-up the visit. The vignettes will play an essential role in the follow-up and will promote an understanding of NoS. In addition, lectures for teachers and the interested public will be offered twice a year in order to communicate the project ideas and progress.