Students doing and producing science The missing last mile in digital science pedagogy

László Z. Karvalics

Abstract


Máté Nászai had been at the first course when he had started his experiments on a mini biogas power plant fed with bacteria that would be able to provide energy for his school (Miklós Radnóti Secondary Grammar School in Szeged). Ten years ago when, at the age of 15 and the second year of the school, his work was presented in a newspaper article (Hargitai, 2009), his current research challenge was to jump from the ten-litre size to one cubic metre. And although he was given
theoretical support and microorganisms by the relevant department of the University of Szeged, the work he carried on together with his teachers and peers, which was aimed at the development of new biotechnological know-how, must be considered an independent applied research project. 1 Let us see an example from the world of basic researches, too. The youngest author of the gravity centre of scientific publication products, the Nature, fifteen-year-old Neil Ibata contributed to the theory of galaxy evolution when, some years ago, his simulation proved of the dwarf galaxies rotating around the Andromeda that their motion is not chaotic; they form a huge but systematically
moving structure through 1 million light-years (Ibata, 2014). 2
We could go on telling several similar stories from each part of the world. It was always clear that after a certain age, some students’ performance might reach or even exceed that of the qualified members of the scientific community – or at least can be compared to that in some respects. It was not questioned in the pedagogical tradition either that the contribution of school environment might help child prodigies (wunderkind) create full-value scientific results by “adding” to the “brought” family, cultural and socialization elements. 3 This was clear already at the beginning of the 20th century – in Hungary, too, where it was not only young mathematicians and chemists but “literary
historians” and “ethnographers”, as well, who approached reviews and editing publications directly from the school bench. István Hajnal conceived it that although medieval “French universities had
no notes about their students, based on the biographies we can highlight several examples of students younger than ten years old but attending university lessons; contemporaries often spoke of prodigy children who recited Latin authors by heart already at this young age” (Hajnal, 2008: 99).


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3311/ope.341

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