15 years zdi: 2012 | The house of the little researchers - A cooperation along the educational chain

"You can't just take the snail shell with you. The snail may come back and not find its house.” “But how else can we find out whether there is a kitchen in a snail shell?” – Children's urge to explore is all-encompassing and insatiable. By observing their everyday life, they ask the most unusual questions for adults. "MINT education along the education chain" is one of zdi's guiding principles. Successful MINT education begins in kindergarten and with the "House of Little Researchers" foundation, zdi has had a strong partner since 2012, who helps to implement this guiding principle. 

"The House of Little Researchers is a non-profit foundation that has been campaigning nationwide for good early childhood education since 2006. Our goal is to make girls and boys strong for the future right from kindergarten and to enable them to act sustainably.”, says Natalie Tadros, who is the advisor to the local network partners of the House of Little Researchers in NRW. “In recent years we have also been able to find committed partners in zdi networks. This cooperation in the networks started with the zdi-Kamp-Lintfort Center of the Rhein-Waal University of Applied Sciences in 2012.”

As a house of little researchers, the focus of the course content is on children in kindergarten and primary school. In the networks, educators and teachers receive material from the foundation that can be used to work with the children. "In the case of zdi networks, this means that the network has to spend less time preparing further training for educators and teachers and has more time to pursue its other tasks." This is the most unusual when working with kindergarten and primary school children Questions can arise, everyone should be aware. "I'm not involved in running the courses myself," says Natalie Tadros. “But over the years you get a story or two. My favorite story was told by a kindergarten teacher about a snail shell.” 
In courses from the Little Researchers' House, children are encouraged to explore their environment independently. But sometimes it also happens that the children develop their own research question without a prepared project, as in the case of the snail shell that Natalie Tadros addressed. "The children in the kindergarten group found a snail shell while playing and asked themselves whether there is also a kitchen in a snail shell." In such situations, the educators then encourage this urge to explore further. However, the initiative should continue to come from the children.  

MINT for the little ones 

The children looked inside the snail shell and were able to answer their own questions. Reactions to not being able to find a kitchen varied widely. From “I told you that there is no kitchen in there because the snail shell is much too small.” To “Of course there is no kitchen in there when the snail has moved out. She will have taken them with her.” I guess everything was there. The children should independently acquire new knowledge based on their own prior knowledge. The courses and workshops of the foundation prepare the educators to give the right impulses to the children in such situations, so that they can further research their questions. 

The "House of Little Researchers" foundation is active throughout Germany and implements its content equally in all federal states. In NRW, the areas of responsibility of the house of little researchers and zdi overlap, which is why both initiatives have decided to find out about the mutual approach. “2014 have zdi  and dThe foundation in today's Ministry of Culture and Science met to determine the details of this cooperation."

As of 2019, 27 are working zdi-networkrke together with the house of the little researchers. The way of cooperation depends on the target group of the individual networks. While some networks cooperate with a house of little researchers in the region, other networks, such as the network in the district of Borken, have set up their own house for little researchers. 

A separate house for the youngest researchers

In Bochum, the observatory runs its own house for young researchers and is also a partner of the local zdi network. Natalie Tadros has one or two suggestions for anyone interested in building their own house for little researchers. "Find companions. Look around in your personal environment for people or institutions with whom you can share the workload. If you try to build a house for little researchers on your own, the amount of tasks can be overwhelming at first. But if you distribute the tasks to several people, the mountain of tasks becomes clearer and easier to handle. Get in touch with other networks that have already become the home of little researchers and benefit from this wealth of experience.”.

House of little explorers

Here you will find all the information about the Little Researchers' House Foundation.
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15 years of zdi – all posts!

Here you will find further articles on the subject of “15 years of zdi”.
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Contact person zdi

Magdalena Hein

Phone Number
0211 75707-19
Write e-mail

Contact person "House of Little Researchers"

Natalie Tadros

Phone Number
030 275959-222
Write e-mail

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