The Heuréka Projectčeská
Why to look at Heuréka?
The main aim of Heuréka project is to improve physics education.
Of course, you may ask: Who cares? There were (and are) many projects aimed at improving physics education. Why to look at (n+1)-th?
Probably one of the best ways how to understand what does it mean to teach in the style of the Heuréka (and also how does the project work) is to look at the following article including an example of the methodological sequence: "What Is the Wick in the Candle For?"
Or look to reports from Heureka conferences in 2004 and 2005 which appeared in Physics Education:
"Reporting from a mattress in Nachod…" by Elizabeth Swinbank (Univ. of York, UK) and
"Teachers share experiment know-how" by Gorazd Planinsic (Univ. of Ljubljana, Slovenia).
(These reports appeared in Phys.Ed. 40, No.1, (Jan.2005), p.5 and Phys.Ed. 41, No.1, (Jan.2006), p.7-8.)
Or consider that:
- The project really 'lives': 14 weekend seminars were organized in 2009, together with one main conference "The Heureka Workshops" . 8-9 years ago, the number of people in the project was about 15. Now there are more than 80 active participants.
- Heuréka puts together teachers from different types of schools, future teachers, people from universities and other people interested in physics education. And the interaction and cooperation of all these groups proved to be rewarding and inspiring.
- A nucleus of a ‘network of teachers’ who support and inspire each other seems to be formed successfully in the the project. And not only in Czech Republic - several physics teachers from Slovakia are also involved.
- The project is associated also with further activities ...
(See details on these pages.)
To stay open and to get new ideas and further inspiration, we look for new contacts and friends who also try to improve physics education at all levels. (Of course, we will welcome also contacts with those, who already know how to achieve it...)
In case you feel we could something to say each other, to exchange some experience etc., let us know. Teachers from Slovakia already participate in our seminars and other activities - we will be glad to welcome people from other countries, too.
We may also meet at other conferences in Czech Republic (as we met with teachers from Ireland two years ago at the conference ‘Fair of inventions of physics teachers’ in Prague). Or there are other ways how to communicate and, maybe, establish some future cooperation. We are looking forward to you.
Heuréka at a glance
- At first, it concentrated on physics education for age group 12-15. Now it covers much broader scope.
- It started ‘from bottom up’: from teachers at schools. Then it became interesting for people from University. Now it is a common project.
- It lasts for more than 12 years - and from the activity of just a few people it expanded to the project including several tens of active participants.
And it still grows.
- Its aim is to cultivate not only teaching of physics as such but also interactions of teachers and pupils in general.
- It evolves and tries to be open to new ideas.
- Last but not least: It seems to work! :-)
A note on basic ‘philosophy’ of Heuréka:
Its title (which, in English, means Eureka) resembles heuristic method of teaching. We use this term in Czech to characterize some important features of our approach to teaching and learning.
But it does not mean that Heuréka is limited to an old one ‘learning by discovering’ approach (that one criticised for, e.g., ignoring pupils’ preconcepts, context of learning etc.).
It would be fashionable to claim that Heuréka is based on constructivism, ‘social constructivism’ or so. Surely, there are many common points. But, to be fair, it must be said that the ‘principles of Heuréka approach’ were created by teachers, who were at that time not aware of latest trends in education in West countries. Maybe it is sad - but it is interesting to see how the ‘principles of Heuréka’ resonate with many ideas and recommendations resulting from these trends and from the area of physics education research. See the details later on these pages.
One final note:
In the above, it was said that principles of Heuréka were ‘created’. It would be more appropriate to say that these principles emerged. They arose from a work of several teachers and other people deeply perceiving the need to improve teaching of physics. This work was intensive and lasted for years. (And, to extend the scope of the project, a lot of work is still before us.) Up to now, this work was not supported by any formal research studies investigating ‘how Heuréka approach works’, ‘what are its main benefits for pupils and teachers’ etc. But the experiences of teachers who use this approach in their teaching and the responses of teachers and future teachers involved in the project show that Heuréka has its strong points and it is worth trying.