Comenius Garten: Children as Researchers
Comenius Garten: Children as Researchers—“Wunderforschung” and the “Werkstatt des Wissens”
Other involved Scholars:
Cooperation Partners:Comenius Garten Berlin-Neukölln, Museum für Naturkunde Berlin, Monash University in Melbourne
The Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin (MPIWG) and the Comenius Garden Berlin have been working together since 2003. The Comenius Garden offers an extensive program of scientific research for children with its “Werkstatt des Wissens” (Knowledge Workshop) project, in which the MPIWG has been actively involved for many years.
The idea of the “Werkstatt des Wissens”—where children, academics, and artists work in partnership—grew out of a research interest in intuitive knowledge. The workshop brings together three otherwise separated forms of knowing: science, art, and children’s knowledge. At the same time, it generates critical impulses back into current research in the history of science.
Through everyday experiments, the “Werkstatt des Wissens” enables children to playfully explore the big questions of human life and topics relevant to the history of science. Accompanied by historians of science, the children formulate their own ideas about what they observe. The scholars can join in experiencing the children’s playful and unprejudiced discovery of very diverse explanations for particular phenomena. The adults do not try to correct this child knowledge; instead, they support the children’s flashes of inspiration through questions and experiments. Without any prior specialized knowledge, the children realize that in some cases they are developing ideas very similar to those thought up by the “great scientists” of the past.
For the researchers, the children’s approaches may serve as sources for understanding historical forms of knowledge acquisition. Scientific knowledge enters into dialogue with children’s knowledge.