From our network 31.08.2021

The scientific alphabet, or how it all began

We asked the teachers that will present a Joint Project at the upcoming European Science on Stage festival 2022 to write a blog post about their collaboration. This article comes from two teachers from Czechia and Slovakia. 

1. Two of us

First, we would like to introduce ourselves, introduce our students' activities and explain how it all began.

Jitka - I am a Math and Physics teacher at an eight-year grammar school in Stříbro in the Czech Republic. In my free time, I run Debrujár clubs and I like to play escape games. In 2018, I became one of the ten finalists of the Global Teacher Prize Czech Republic. And in 2015, 2017, and 2019, I was a part of the Czech delegation at the Science on Stage in London, Debrecen, and Cascais.

My students have been regularly taking part in the international Science Cup competition, every year we present experiments within the Days of Science and Technology. We also participate in the international scientific exhibitions Expo Sciences International - in 2019 in Abu Dhabi, in 2017 in Brazil, or in 2015 in Brussels. In 2017, we participated in the European STEM League with the project "Measuring the Parameters of a Soccer Ball" and reached the finale, which took place at the Football Museum in Dortmund. In 2020, our Club of Small Debrouillards at Gymnazium Stribro won the Golden Nut 2020 award for gifted children of the Czech Republic.

Janka – I am a primary school teacher at a primary school with a nursery school, Nizna brana in Kezmarok, Slovakia. I teach mathematics, Slovak language, science, physical and art education.  Ať my lessons I often use simple experiments in all subjects so learning is more interesting for my pupils. My work is my hobby, in my free time I lead a science club- Furthermore, I am a lecturer in the Scientific Den, I involve students in various children's scientific competitions.

Since 2015, my students have been successfully participating in the international Science Cup competition, the LaBaK competition, and the Amavet Festival of the Four Elements every year.  As part of the international event European Researchers' Night, we regularly perform experiments for public. We also participated in the international project of the Norwegian University - Global Science Opera- Moon village.

Jitka and me met at the international finals of the Science Cup in 2015, and began our six-year cooperation.  At first, it was only an exchange of ideas, experiments, and activities for children. In the last two years we have already prepared joint activities and projects for children from both schools. It's beautiful to see how elementary school students look up to their older friends and, vice versa, how secondary school študent s admire the ideas and experiments of their younger friends.

2. Our project

And how did our joint project "Czech-Slovak alphabet of science experiments from children to children" began?  The idea was born and developed gradually. We mixed what we have been working on for several years, which are simple scientific experiments for children with moments when we laughed at each other because we misunderstood a few Slovak and Czech words. The Czech and Slovak languages are very similar, so our students have almost no communication problems. We decided to extend the project to English so that teachers from other countries could later use it.

Jitka – Janka, although Czech and Slovak languages are very similar, I really enjoy some of your words

Janka – Jitka, so do I.  Why don't we create a Czech-Slovak alphabet together with the children?

Jitka – Maybe even the English-Czech-Slovak alphabet and we could supplement it with what we and our children can do best  - simple scientific experiments?

Janka – And that's how it all started. The first idea of the project came to us at apersonal meeting in Slovakia. I hesitated a bit because I teach little children and our English is still not perfect. However, the Corona situation taught us that obstacles can be overcome, so we learned to present online experiments and slowly became comfortable with English.

3. Getting ready

Our preparations for joint activities and projects took not only place online, but also in regular meetings in June during the Science Cup competition in Nymburk and in July 2020 during the holidays in Slovakia under the Tatras and in 2021 in Moravia in Hustopece.

Jitka – For each letter of the alphabet we have prepared keywords and ideas for two or more experiments (which we have in stock in case the children would not come up with their own ideas)

Janka – We also agreed that for each topic one team will look up historical or geographical information and the other team will find some curiosity.

Jitka – And then we just fine-tuned the details, whether we will choose the letters at random of or gradually, how long the children will work with one letter, and so on.

Janka – And then we started looking forward to the school year

4. How we did in the school year 2020-21

Unfortunately, the school year 2020-21 was not completely ideal for the implementation of the project because distance learning took place in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, but we still managed a lot and our Czech-Slovak alphabet of science experiments from children to children began to fulfill both ideas for experiments, as well as experiments carried out at school and online, and there were also mutual presentations of experiments.

Jitka – Although at the beginning transition to the online environment was difficult, the children quickly made it up and began experimenting at home in a similar way as they were used to do it at school.  Parents also enthusiastically participated in some experiments "

Janka – We and the children were most pleased with the mutual presentations of experiments for draw chosen letters of the alphabet and keywords.

Jitka – We are considering that we would like to involve other schools in our project in order to join our alphabet, the chosen words and supplement them with further experiments.

Janka – Above all, we are very happy that the children enjoy the joint project, they come up with new experiments, they look forward to choosing the letter and discuss the best keyword together so that both teams can present the most interesting experiment to friends from the partner school.

Jsme moc rády, že budeme mít příležitost náš společný projekt Czech-Slovak alphabet of science experiments from children to children představit na mezinárodní přehlídce Science on Stage v Praze a věříme, že získáme další partnery, kteří spolu se svými žáky náš projekt ještě rozšíří.

We are very happy to have the opportunity to present our joint project "Czech-Slovak alphabet of science experiments from children to children" at the international Science on Stage in Prague and we believe that we will inspire other partners to joint  our project with their students.

C = coffee = káva = káva, P = pencil = ceruza = tužka

© Jitka Soukupová and Janka Šišková 
© Jitka Soukupová and Janka Šišková 
© Jitka Soukupová and Janka Šišková 
© Jitka Soukupová and Janka Šišková 
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