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Physics for Street Children

a Research and Development Project in Colombia

Colombia - geography
The capital Bogotà is situated at 2.400m a.s.l.

  • 141 748 km²
  • 42 100 000 Inhabitants
  • The Andes Mountains
  • Caribbean- and Pacific Coast
  • Amazon
  • Tropical Climate

Medellín - 2 400 000 Inhabitants, 1600m a.s.l.
Copacabana - a Village of 70.000 Inhabitants
Our Partner Institution
Escuela Normal Superior María Auxiliadora
A comprehensive school which offers a teaching degree in co-operation with the Universidad de Antioquia in Medellín.
Why Physics for Street Children?

  • The existence of street children is an increasing problem, worldwide (Weber & Jaramillo 2005).
  • UN Convention on Human Rights of the Child: Society has the responsibility to find ways in order to offer them adequate possibilities for learning – also in science.
  • Dealing with science can offer new life perspectives.
  • Children in living in difficult circumstances are a challenge for (science) education.

Street – Patio – Albergue – Ciudad Don Bosco

Physics for Street Children

Our Objectives:
to develop co-operatively appropriate ways of enabling and motivating Colombian student teachers to educate and motivate children who are disconnected from the official school system – within a few weeks.

Our Approach:

  • Study of prerequisites and conditions on both sides: student teachers and street children.
  • Application of specific experiences concerning the education of street children
  • Introduction of  intensive courses in physics and physics education for student teachers in Colombia
  • inquiry based learning (IBL) approach using simple experiments and material
  • since 2001: practicing and evaluating 3 different strategies

Background: Street Children …

  • need specific science education, based on their experiences, motivations and interests.
  • live a life fundamentally different from that of children with family and school background (Weber & Jaramillo 2003, Herrera Casilimas et al. 2012).
  • behave in a specific way (individual street life experiences).
  • have no conventional school socialization (see Herrera Casilimas et al. 2012, 67-68).

Authentic environments are necessary for an effective learning context (Roth 1995).
Background: Pre-Service Student Teachers in Copacabana ...

  • are not used to experimental approaches and IBSE.
  • experienced few science lessons, only.
  • have a lot of experiences teaching street children (practicals).
  • are familiar with the life of street children’s life.

Methods of inquiry based learning in science education (IBSE) for teacher students and street children have to be introduced (see Rocard et al. 2007).
Our Approaches

Strategy 1:

⇒ Physics or science course for student teachers offered by us

⇒ Student teachers prepare lessons. They are supported by us.

⇒ Student teachers teach 5-15 street children – the lessons are videotaped – a detailed reflection follows

Strategy 2: 

⇒ Advanced student teachers prepare lessons. They are supported by us.

⇒ Student teachers teach 10-25 street children – the lessons are videotaped – a focused reflection on teaching-learning situations follows

Strategy 3: 

⇒ Preparation of an interactive science exhibition by student teachers and supported by us

⇒ Realization and reflection on street children’s activities and teaching-learning situations

Strategy 1: Physics or Science Course for Teacher Students
⇒ Physics or science course for student teachers
Strategy 1: Student teachers prepare lessons
⇒ Student teachers prepare lessons – supported by us.
Strategy 1: Student teachers teach 5-15 street children
⇒ Student teachers teach 5-15 street children – the lessons are videotaped – a detailed reflection follows
Insights and Experiences: Physics lessons at Patio Don Bosco
⇒ Having started with direct instruction in front of the children (in 2003) …
⇒ A change of practice becomes quickly visible: realisation of open inquiry situations
Proud of a self constructed electromagnet