( Completed: 2012)
Children as Researchers: “Wunderforschung” and the “Werkstatt des Wissens”
Other involved scholars: Katja Bödeker ; Henning Vierck (Comenius-Garten Berlin-Neukölln) ; Stephanie Giese
Cooperation Partners: Comenius Garten Berlin-Neukölln ; Museum für Naturkunde Berlin ; Monash University in Melbourne
Ongoing scholarly cooperations since 2003 between the Comenius Garden Berlin-Neukölln and Department I are reflected in common endeavors with the “Werkstatt des Wissens” set up by the Comenius Garden.
Within open workshops ("Werkstatt des Wissens") children and researchers are studying different fields of knowledge and their interaction. The workshops are held in cooperation with elementary schools in Berlin. As part of the schools’ afternoon program, fellows of the Max-Planck-Institute offer project groups twice a week in order to give children the opportunity to study natural, scientific and cultural aspects of miracles.
In 2003, the workshop "Künstler, Wissenschaftler, Kinder und das
Nichts" (Artists, scientists, children and nothingness) initiated a
dialogue between the intuitive knowledge of children, science and art.
Children, artists and research fellows from the Max Planck Institute
were studying aspects of the nothing such as zero, vacuum, void, death
In the workshop "Weltbilder" (world pictures), which
took place in 2004, scientists from the Max-Planck-Institute and
children dealt with questions such as: Does the world have an end? Can
time run faster or slower? Where is above and below on earth? The
results of the studies were part of the Einstein exhibition that took
place 2005 in Berlin.
In 2007 the project “ Wunderforschung” was initiated. Its main aim was to bring together science, art and children’ s knowledge, forms of perception that usually remain isolated from one another. The subject “ wonder” was chosen for this purpose as in cultural history it has provided many insightful interfaces between the arts, science and religion and often formed the point of origin of new developments in these areas. Wonders mark the boundaries and beginnings of knowledge, and question its context, justification and reliability. The project highlighted the fact that science and wonders cannot be simply contrasted; they show how the perception of wonders is always linked to new ideas about the order of nature. It brought together children, scientists and artists who shared their perceptions and individual methods of research.
In collaboration with the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin and the Monash University in Melbourne, children’s perceptions of wondrous everyday phenomena were confronted with historical forms of scientific knowledge about these phenomena. An exhibition displayed in 2008 at the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin and an accompanying book have so far crowned the initiative.
Since March 2012, joint projects with the MPIWG are, on display at the Comenius-Garten in the context of a small exhibition open to a broader public.