Worked at Maria Sibylla Merian High School:
Track sparks students’ interest in science
Krefeld MSM-Gymnasium students got the chance to move balls in the Touch-Tomorrow-Truck with the power of their ideas and assemble machines with virtual instructions. And the truck does that, too.
The ball initially moves painfully slowly through the course. Only after a few moments you succeed in speeding it up more and more. However, the speed again and again drops sharply. The ball is controlled by the user himself via an interface that reads brain waves directly through the electrodes. “The more focused and focused the user, the faster the bullet. This simple system only reads the fact that you are focused. More complex systems with caps, dozens of electrodes allow left and right aiming and so on,” explains Joshua Hall.
The physicist is one of the three moderators who attended the “Touch Tomorrow” truck at the Maria-Sibylla-Marian-Gymnasium. The 28-ton truck is parked in the school yard all week. The side walls and roof can be extended giving the truck 102 square meters of space on two floors. They are full of technology. The truck belongs to the Dr. Harald Riegeler. This was founded by the son of the founder of Haribo of the same name and aims to stimulate interest in young people in the subjects of MINT (Mathematics, Computer Science, Natural Sciences and Technology).
For this purpose, classes are directed through various stations by supervisors. One of these mentioned stations is the mentioned game. It shows how the human brain can be connected to machines. “Of course, the principle cannot be used only for games. This application is mainly used for prosthetics. In this way, prosthetics can be made so that, for example, they can be properly held and controlled by the brain like a normal hand,” explains Hall.
Other stations, for example, demonstrate the principle of the Hyperloop, which is a magnetic levitation train in a vacuum tunnel. “Here, the kids can first let the train pass through the air-filled tunnel. Then it creates about 400 kilometers per hour. If air is then pumped out of the tunnel, it gets significantly faster and goes up to over 1,000 km/h,” explains Hall.
Upstairs, two schoolgirls assemble an electric motor with the help of glasses that display the instructions as “Augmented Reality”. Anna Friedrich ends quickly. “It was interesting, but also unusual. It was difficult at times, but much easier than traditional paper instructions. It’s really interesting how the virtual parts fly in the air,” says the teenager. Luisa Bozsamaz Roncero needs a little longer. “It was difficult for me at first because the glasses might not have been working quite properly. It was a little annoying, but other than that it was really fun,” she says.
The two students attend Grade 10 (EF) high school and are accompanied by their teacher, Myriam Grolig. “It is wonderful to see the momentum with which the activities offered at Touch Tomorrow Truck arouse the curiosity and interest of students. Without compulsion, without pressure, just out of genuine interest in the topic, enthusiasm nurtures on a level that goes far beyond pure science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) experiences in life School daily, says the teacher.
Transferring knowledge is not a concern of the Touch Tomorrow Truck at all. Rather, it is about showing young people how STEM careers affect the world today and which subject areas are very exciting associated with the natural sciences. This also includes automatic recognition of rocks and plastics based on wood or virtual reality that goes beyond “augmented reality”, that is, 3D glasses that create a completely unique image. Young people can try everything themselves, but they are also asked questions and can watch short films. You can save these results, as well as your own, to your own account and look at them again later at home.
Referring to real jobs is always important. Carola Haas is also there for this. The career counselor at the Employment Agency is passionate about the project. “It currently takes four years to get the truck. But it’s a great opportunity to engage with the topics in a playful way. So far, I’ve only known the provider, but it’s great to also have a stop here to provide information about jobs,” she says. In the future, the agency should also participate in the applications and take on the preparation and follow-up work.
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