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LeLa Prize: Scienteens Lab wins third place for Experiment of the Year

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Published on Tuesday, 10 March 2020

For the first edition of the LeLa Prize, the third prize in the category Experiment of the Year was awarded to a mathematics workshop developed by the Scienteens Lab at the University of Luxembourg. Entitled “Finding the shortest path? Thanks to graph theory!”, this workshop introduces a complex mathematical theory to high-school students through hands-on activities. The award was presented to Dr Thierry Meyrath, responsible for the mathematics activities at the Scienteens Lab, during a festive ceremony at the 15th annual LeLa conference in Dresden on 9 March.

The recently created LeLa prize highlights outstanding achievements by German speaking school laboratories (over 400 labs are registered in the school laboratory atlas) in four different categories: Experiment of the Year, STEM Education for Teachers, digital School lab and Student project of the year. In these respective sections, the prize recognises innovative concepts in terms of content or format. The goal is to make original and ingenious activities visible to a network of school laboratories, and to draw both the public and sponsors’ attention to school labs.

In the Experiment of the Year category, school laboratories submitted innovative, successfully tested and transferable activities. A jury of independent experts then selected the winners based on criteria such as creativity, interdisciplinarity and teaching methodology.

Scienteens Lab @ LeLa conference 2020 : David Kieffer, Elisabeth John, Conrad Spindler, Thierry Meyrath.

An innovative workshop in mathematics

The Scienteens Lab is one of the few school labs offering full-day workshops in mathematics. During the winning workshop, pupils discover graph theory, a topic both accessible – it requires no in-depth mathematical knowledge – and completely new to the students as it is not part of the school programme in Luxembourg. It gives them an insight into another area of mathematics and a better picture of the diversity of the discipline.

“The pupils learn how different theoretical concepts are used to model and solve problems that arise in daily life, for example in logistics and route planning, “explains Dr Thierry Meyrath. “They can actively participate in various practical exercises and have the opportunity to test by themselves the concepts addressed by the workshop.” This interactive approach applied to mathematics was rewarded, as well as the flexible format of the activity which is offered either as a full-day or half-day workshop. The fact that the workshop can easily be adapted for different class levels was also a deciding factor.

Another unique aspect of this workshop is that it was developed in collaboration with two researchers of the University of Luxembourg: Prof. Gabor Wiese and Dr Bruno Teheux from the Department of Mathematics (DMATH) and Marco Breyer, a Luxembourgish high school teacher. This close connection with academia is one of the specificities of the Scienteens Lab and an added value for its workshops that benefit from input from current scientific research.

Sharing activities with a network of school labs

The LeLa prize also promotes the circulation of innovative activities. The Scienteens Lab workshop also scored points in that department as it can easily be transferred to other school labs and customised for their specific needs. Like all the winning projects, it will soon be published as an Open Educational Resource: the materials will be made accessible to other student laboratories wishing to use it. The award-winning workshop was also presented by Thierry Meyrath during a special session at the LeLa annual conference.

More mathematics coming soon!

The Scienteens Lab team received 2000 euros, donated by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, that will be used to further develop the activities of the Scienteens Lab. “We are very happy and honoured to receive this prize,” rejoices Dr Elisabeth John, team leader of the Scienteens Lab. “It is a great incentive to keep developing our offer in mathematics.” Incidentally, a new workshop focusing on probabilities is currently being developed and will soon be open for registration.