The Kinderun, the 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 the field of science.
The concept of children’s universities has existed in Germany since 2002. The University of Tübingen was the first to open its doors to children to attend its classes. Since then, more and more universities in Germany and elsewhere have offered such a program.
The Goethe-Institut, a German cultural institute that celebrated its 60th anniversary in Canada this year, was inspired by this approach and transposed Kinderuni into a digital version. A digital children’s university was thus created, and various language versions were gradually added. In 2021, the Goethe-Institut in 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 answer them in a simple and accurate way. The Kinderuni platform provides a wide selection of video capsules in which various scientific phenomena are described in an age-appropriate way for young children. These interactive classes are offered in three faculties: “Man”, “Nature” and “Technology”. Young scientists can learn, for example, how a car’s autopilot works; how a wound heals after an injury; or how spiders make their webs. The 75 topics discussed will interest not only young people, but also bring answers that will surprise adults. Did you know, for example, that it is the ivy leaf that is the origin of the heart symbol? And could you explain why some types of wood crack more than others? You also probably wouldn’t try to board a big paper boat or a boat made of concrete in science class. Do you think these two ships will sink? All of this material allows you to enrich your science lessons, add concrete experiences and arouse the curiosity of your students.
And that’s not all! Children can also learn the German language here. 10 new German words are taught in each lesson to familiarize students with the language by exploring word meanings and their sounds. The course also includes exercises for deepening the subject matter (in French!) and repeating some learned German words. A gamification system was set up to further motivate children. Young students collect trophies to advance their academic careers, pass their matriculation exams and eventually become teachers.
It is important to know that the courses are suitable both for students who have never studied German and for those who speak it fluently. Courses are available in French, English, German and many other languages.