Harald von Beringe, Austria
Subject and Grade Taught:
Biology, Physics and Chemistry, 10-14 year-old-students in the secondary school
Years in Amgen Teach community:
Participation in Amgen Teach programme:
Harald teaches biology, physics and chemistry to 10-14 year olds at the NMS Hasenleitengasse 7 secondary school in Vienna, Austria. He joined Amgen Teach after a national training event in his home country: "I did because I like opportunities to network with other teachers and the hands-on approach to learning," he explains.
The workshop he attended thanks to Amgen Teach have given Harald the courage to use inquiry-based learning in his own classroom, as it demonstrated a variety of different activities to try. "I decided to make a clear shift towards this teaching approach, because I think that students can benefit a lot. They develop their own ways of solving a problem".
Harald has applied the lessons he learned showing his students how a scientist works. He re-created the experiment that Joseph Priestley described to Benjamin Franklin in a letter. The experiment eventually led to the discovery of oxygen and carbon dioxide. Students liked a lot the activity "they could make their own predictions about the experiment, trying to guess the following steps."
Harald has also younger pupils. Dealing with organic chemistry and plastic, Harald demonstrated how a baby's nappy is capable of absorbing such a huge amount of liquid. The idea was to debunk the myth that cotton inside nappies absorbs the liquids. This class was also a very big hit with learners, says Harald. "The experiment was very engaging and fun for the students, with the plus that you can vary the experimental setting according to their age."
In conclusion, Harald believes that Amgen Teach gives teachers the rare chance to build an international network. However, this is not the only benefit: "it is the variety of hands-on approaches" that make Amgen Teach appealing to educators interested in inquiry-based learning.