Barbro Tyrberg and Katrin Lindwall

Barbro and Katrin created laboratory lessons for Corona times in the laundry room

The meeting in the network Linné mot nya höjder this spring had to become digital due to the Coronavirus. Katrin Lindwall and Barbro Tyrberg at the Faculty of Technology tell how they made the best of the situation and created laboratory work for the primary and lower-secondary school that links natural science to the present situation in society.

“Social issues with connections to natural science are of great interest to us. We want to point out opportunities to take advantage of what is happening around the pupils and in society, and to show how this may be used in teaching science and technology. And what's more relevant than Corona right now?”

Katrin Lindwall is lecturer at the Department of Computer Science and Media Technology at Linnaeus University. Together with her colleague Barbro Tyrberg at the department of NT education, she runs Linné mot nya höjder, a network for teachers who work with science and technology. But how did they come up with the idea of ​​creating laboratory lessons and sharing them with teachers via Internet?

“Originally, we had another plan for the meeting, a very physical one about using AR (augmented reality) and VR (virtual reality) in science education. That plan was shattered since we can't meet because of the Coronavirus. But it’s extremely sad that so much is cancelled nowadays. Surely, we thought, we could have a net-networking meeting?”, says Barbro.

She and Katrin made the best of the situation and created what they call ‘laboratory lessons for Corona times’. At the network meeting, which takes place using the Zoom app, they will go through four different laboratory lesson they have created, all of which are linked to the Coronavirus and can be used by the teachers in their classes.

Knowledge in science is important

“The students face Corona and Covid-19 in many ways and we want to give them concrete insight into the fact that knowledge in science and technology belongs in this context”, says Katrin. “Why do we wash our hands and why for a certain amount of time? Why isn’t just water enough? And toilet paper, that has come into focus for really no reason – why should we use it in the lavatory instead of other types of paper?”

“The natural science subject is sometimes questioned at school. ‘What do I need this for?’ ‘Why should I do this?’ Our laboratory lessons will hopefully point to the relevance of science.”

Hand illuminated bu ultraviolet light
One of the laboratory lessons, where the pupils are to put suntan oil on their hands and then wash them. Using ultraviolet light, you can see how clean they are after washing them for different times and with different carefulness.

“The laboratory lessons were created at home, in the laundry room, during a holiday that was cancelled due to Corona. The goal was to do something fun out of, and due to, the situation”, says Barbro.

She and Katrin have partly tried net-networking before. They have had both lecturers and participating teachers in other places connected to the network meetings via, for example, iPads.

“We plan to develop and use the digital opportunities that exist, and that teachers get more routine from working with, in the network in the future. It may increase opportunities for participation and contact with active teachers. At least something positive!”, says Katrin.

Attracts people from outside of the region

The network meeting will take place at 3 pm on Wednesday 6 May and is open to anyone interested.

“The meeting not only attracts teachers from our region. Surprisingly, we have received registrations from Bohuslän, Västerbotten and the Stockholm region, for example”, says Katrin.

Barbro and Katrin do not have daily contact with teachers in primary school, but they hear that their workload is heavy.

“It is time consuming and uneasy. Parents keep children at home, colleagues are ill for a long time, so there is a shortage of staff. Elementary and preschool teachers bear a heavy burden during these times, which is not often noticed”, says Barbro.

“Occasionally, teachers get in touch with us and their questions can be very different. Last week we received a question about species determination of frogs. This week, we’ve had suggestions for home laboratory lessons from senior-level teachers to disseminate, which we of course will do”, says Katrin.

Working remotely is time-consuming

How much have their duties and ways of working changed since the Corona pandemic broke out?

“All digital tools that we know a bit about come into use. Zoom, Google's different document types, phone calls and more are frequently used. Working remotely and digitally takes more time than the ‘usual’ work. Life nowadays consists mostly of computer work and walking”, says Barbro.

“It is striking how you miss the regular contact with colleagues and students. The open brainstorms with colleagues has had to make way for other things and development work is therefore at a standstill. The so important ‘silence together’, where something happens in your mind, has no natural place”, Katrin concludes.

This interview is part of our series "Our new everyday life".