M. Ratkowska, K. Gorkiewicz

Copernicus Science Centre (POLAND)
The Young Explorers Clubs Program (YEC) is cooordinated by Copernicus Science Centre and dedicated for the children, students and their educators all around Poland.

The YEC young explorers carry out experiments and scientific research. Its main purpose is to interest young people in science and encourage them to search knowledge and actively explore the world. The Program methodology is focused on making experiments and active searching for the answers. We believe that there are no errors committed in researching process. We play and we encourage others to verify their own hypotheses. Clubs do not give ready-made solutions and their members, on their own and in accordance with their own interests, look for answers to scientific questions together with the Club Carers. Clubs represent a space for experimentation, construction, discussion and exploration of the world on one’s own. Scientific issues are no longer problems hidden behind formulas from textbooks. They become living things, which you can attack, explore and understand.

The main objectives of the methodology are:
• to inspire interest in the natural sciences
• to bring up aware citizens taking responsibility for surrounding world and trying to change it
• to create a platform for exchange of ideas, contacts and experience
• to treat young people as partners – the Club Members are co-creators of the Club
• to support and complement school curricula
• to equalize life chances of school children

The program bases on significant values like:
• lack of assessment – a safe space
• making one’s own research hypotheses – unlocking creativity
• teaching the cause-effect thinking
• practicing the ability to search for answers
• cooperation within a group
• a lesson of responsibility
• building self-esteem

which help to shape in young Clubs‘ members skills extremely useful in contemporary word, such as curiosity, cooperation and communication ability, responsibility, critical thinking etc.

This, apparently simple method, turned out to be real revolution in Polish schools because it breaks with traditional model of teaching and learning – in which only the one right answer exists and where the experiment serve as a proof for beforehand known thesis.

In surrounding like that, YEC’s method, implements totally fresh, SCIENCE approach easy to use for children, teenagers and adults. The program emphasize on an utterly new role of carer/teacher who stops acting as a guide or master and becomes a partner in cognition process. This situation is facilitated by the fact that the moment of experimenting involves all spheres of human being – his body, brain and emotions. In that situation it is almost impossible to stay away and play role of an omnipotent teacher.

Universality is another great advantage of the method. First of all, because all experiments require really basic and cheap stuff, easy to buy in average grocer’s shop or find in a kitchen, like: oil, flour, rice, potatoes etc., and no professional back-up like laboratory equipment or reagents. The best evidence for universality of the method is the fact that YECs appear not only in Poland but also in Georgia, Belarus, Russia and Ukraine – changing teachers’ and pupils’ attitude to science and life in society.

We would like to invite you to experience our adventure and take part in our workshops showing how we work. You are welcome!