Contemporary learning and teaching methods involve more than face-to-face lessons and browsing through books. They are about group work, interactive and flexible study methods, the use of media and hands-on participation.
Modern teachers, especially natural sciences teachers, must focus on arousing learners´ interest and curiosity, and changing their attitude towards sciences to prepare them for our scientific and technological world of the 21st century.
The Deutsche Höhere Privatschule Windhoek (DHPS), one of the 140 German schools worldwide and a highly respected German-Namibian international school in the capital city Windhoek, has spared no expense or effort in renovating and revamping its science facilities to implement these goals.
The physics, chemistry and biology laboratories shine in new splendour and offer the approximately 1000 learners at the school a state-of-the-art learning and teaching environment that meets the highest safety standards. Theory is easily put into practice and the interactive design and equipment of the laboratories allows learners to conduct their own experiments, acquire scientific knowledge and reflect on what they have learned.
The construction phase for the school´s self-financed project lasted from October 2020 to February 2021. The ideas and concept were developed by representatives of the natural science departments and the DHPS administration.
An international laboratory supplier based in Germany provided the furnishings and equipment, while the construction work was carried out exclusively by and in cooperation with Namibian companies.
Design meets efficiency
The DHPS science rooms now boast flexible furniture that replaces conservative table arrangements with mobile units that can be expanded as needed, providing even more space for group work and interactive experiments.
In addition to the health benefits of the ergonomic chairs, the attractive furnishings in their fresh apple-green colour, offer teachers and learners a contemporary learning ambience.
As in all other subjects, the use of media is part of the modern mediation of scientific content. Smartboards and microscopes with integrated high definition streaming cameras that enable learners to follow what is happening under the magnifying glass, were already part of the standard equipment in the past.
Now, so-called media wings – ceiling systems that supply the learners’ workstations with electricity, water, gas, light and internet access – optimise the experimental possibilities in the biology and chemistry rooms. In the physics rooms, fold-out power lifts provide electricity, internet and low-voltage connections for interactive experiments.
A science laboratory is an exciting place. Even the youngest DHPS learners, who already engage in after-school activities as part of ‘Science is Fun’, are fascinated by the experiments and interesting ideas nature and science offer us.
Older learners too can easily get caught up in the excitement. Everyone must follow important safety protocols that ensure safety because experimenting with electricity and gas, chemical compounds and substances involves risks and must, of course, only be carried out under the supervision of a qualified teacher.
In the modern science environment at DHPS, teachers can monitor the gas or electricity supply via a ceiling system from the control centre in each of the science laboratories.
In addition, the safety of the learners is ensured by a special safety splashguard that can be extended from the teacher’s desk. Further protection is provided by the laboratory cabinet in the chemistry rooms: Experiments can be conducted behind the safety screen and harmful substances and vapours are eliminated immediately.
Interaction and outreach in a scientific setting
As a celebrated ‘excellent German school abroad’, the DHPS is particularly pleased with the contribution to improving education in Namibia. The formerly used laboratory equipment and functional furniture was donated to the Namibian Ministry of Education for use in governmental educational institutions throughout the country.
Future cooperation with universities, alumni and scientists are envisaged, underlining the project as an investment in Namibia’s future – not only in terms of optimally preparing DHPS learners and alumni for their professional careers, but also in terms of the interaction between organisations in the name of the sciences.