An innovative access to complex and natural scientific subjects: the student-curated exhibition

Target of the EXPOneer-project is to allow pupils an innovative access to natural scientific-technical subjects in order to offer a new didactic educational concept. Particularly in the case of complex, multilayer subjects as the here selected area of the nanotechnologies, which is linking the professional basis of the chemistry with other domains, it is possible to find an individual fascinating way through the exhibition project for a lot of pupils. This allows an access to new subjects. Target group of the exhibition project is primary the secondary school II, in order to design the exhibition for the school fellows of the secondary school I, but also for the parents and the school public. 

The EXPOneer-project offers the technical frame, in order to realize a professional exhibition in the daily routine of the school with in-house means. This homepage offers the necessary material to realize an own exhibition with a small budget of several hundred Euros: Shopping lists, construction manuals, information concerning the development of the layout and in order to write museum texts, …Naturally, the exhibition system is not limited to schools – special exhibitions in a small museum, presentation of research at a scientist festival or a stand of a company – everything will be possible, everything will be desired! 

Student-curated exhibition

Exhibitions, developed and constructed by pupils are not very often. If this kind of exhibitions are developed, it is often done in the context of history or arts, normally not in the natural scientific area. 
But the possibilities to learn in the process of „creating of an exhibition“ are multiple; it is possible to analyze the subjects from different views and with variable depth (D'Acquisto 2006). Similar projects in the past have shown that there will be a new learning experience for the pupils, but also for the teacher (Weilbacher et al. 2011). The different cognitive treatment of the subjects allows a new point of view for the pupils, e. g. to the meaning of professional knowledge in the praxis, the methods of the natural scientific research or as well ethical aspects of New Technologies. There are not only questions of target group oriented presentation, but also visual comprehensibleness and the attractive presentation of the content are interesting. In order to work out the quintessence of a subject for the short presentation in an exhibition, it is necessary to gain a broad overview of the subject, which can be deepened punctually according the relevant thematic blocks. Another conceptual challenge is the form of the presentation of the content, which in exhibitions can reach from texts, graphics and images via audio and video formats up to multimedia interpretations and hands-on-experiments. 
Additionally it is possible to integrate personal intermediation offers like tours, presented experiments but also discussions, which demands a further activity with the own understanding of the chemical-natural scientist basis (Beeken & Parchmann, 2010). During the development of the messages, the pupils are demanded to find a media which is suitable for the content, for the appropriate target group and for the spatial/technical/financial basic conditions. In the frame of such projects, pupils are additionally occupying with questions of modern science communication. They are demanded to research self-employed, to occupy with the subject, to realize and to present contents. Contacts to local research groups can be helpful in order to understand the research results and to get to know the processes of research and the daily life of a scientist. 

Presentation of the exhibition

Depending of the explained project target, the exhibition can be used in different contexts. In the simplest way it is made to be use in schools. During the breaks, the “explainers” explain the content or they present experiments. Another application area is to use the exhibition in the frame of project days or project weeks, e. g. in the area of the chemistry or nanotechnology. It is possible to complete the exhibition with further activities, as for example visits to laboratories in universities or companies, or by speeches of scientists. It is also possible to use the exhibition for public-orientated presentations of the school, e. g. in the case of school information days, parent-teacher meetings, presentation days for the 5th or 6th class or generally for the public in the foyer of a bank, of the city hall or in the shopping center. 



  • D'Acquisto, Linda (2006): Learning on display. Student-created museums that build understanding. Alexandria, Va: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (Gale virtual reference library).
  • Weilbacher, Gary; Rojes, Kimberly; Kocourek, Greg (2011): Democratic Teaching: Revisiting Type-Four Core Curriculum. In: Education in a Democracy: A Journal of the NNER (3), S. 85–110. Online available at
  • Beeken, Marco & Parchmann, Ilka (2010). „Ich zeige Dir, wie Wissenschaft funktioniert“. Naturwissenschaften im Unterricht - Chemie, 21(117), 28-31.
  • Nashan, M. & Parchmann, I. (2008). Wissenschaftskommunikation als Zugang zu einem Verständnis für die Natur der Naturwissenschaften. Naturwissenschaften im Unterricht – Chemie, 106(19), 57-61.
  • Haucke, K. & Parchmann, I. (2011). Energie im Kontext – Eine Grundlage zur Vernetzung von Schule, Gesellschaft und Berufsorientierung. Naturwissenschaften im Unterricht - Chemie, 22(121), 16-21.