The Kinderuni, a digital children’s university, is an educational project offered free of charge by the Goethe Institute for children between the ages of 8 and 12. They can explore different areas of knowledge in science.
The concept of children’s universities has existed in Germany since 2002. The University of Tübingen is the first university to open its doors to children to participate in its classes. Since then, more and more universities in Germany and elsewhere have offered such a program.
This year, the Goethe-Institut, a German cultural institution that has been established in Canada for 60 years, was inspired by this approach and transferred Kinderuni to a digital version. Thus, a digital children’s university was created and gradually different language versions were added. In 2021, the Goethe-Institut Montreal took over the French version and invites the French-speaking public to discover it.
What can children learn there?
Children love to ask questions, and teachers are always looking for interesting and engaging material to give them simple and accurate answers. The Kinderuni platform offers a wide selection of video capsules in which various scientific phenomena are depicted in an age-appropriate manner for young children. These interactive classes are offered in three faculties: “Human”, “Nature” and “Technology”. Young scientists can learn, for example, how a car’s autopilot works; how a wound heals after an injury; or how they make a spider’s web. The 75 topics covered not only fascinate young people, but also provide answers that will surprise even adults. For example, did you know that the ivy leaf is the origin of the heart symbol? Can you explain why some types of wood crack more than others? In your science class, you probably wouldn’t try to ride a large paper ship or a boat made of concrete. Do you think these two boats will sink? All of this material allows you to enrich your science lessons, add concrete experiences and spark interest in your students.
And that’s not all! Children can also learn German here. 10 new German words are taught in each lesson so that students become familiar with the language by exploring the meanings of the words and their sounds. Exercises to deepen the topic (in French!) and revise a few German words learned are also part of the course. A gamification system has been established to further motivate children. Young students collect trophies to advance in their academic careers, graduate with a bachelor’s degree, and eventually become a teacher.
It is important to know that the courses are suitable for both students who have never studied German and those who are fluent in the language. Courses are available in French, English, German and many other languages.