Bringing research and teaching closer to society

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A senseBox has even been installed on Germany’s highest mountain, the Zugs

A senseBox has even been installed on Germany’s highest mountain, the Zugspitze- © Sergey Mukhametov

Citizen science is one component in knowledge transfer at the University of Münster. The idea is for the general public to be actively involved in university research - whether through generating questions, developing projects or collecting and evaluating data. The so-called “senseBox” - a stationary and mobile measuring equipment kit - is one example of a citizen science project at Münster University. Over the past few years, people have set up more than 5,500 measuring stations worldwide and recorded billions of environmental and weather data relating to air pressure, temperature and UV radiation. The data are freely accessible on the “openSenseMap” on the internet. “The senseBox is a DIY kit which not only helps to build up a photonic sensor network for citizen science, but also, in particular, develops a fascination for photonic technologies among the public at large,” explains Dr. Thomas Bartoschek, who heads the senseBox project and is a research associate at the Institute of Geoinformatics. Today, hundreds of schools and universities are also using the senseBox in the STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).

Advice and support for spin-offs is another element in knowledge transfer at the University of Münster, which, using a variety of measures, has the aim of creating an atmosphere conducive to setting up spin-offs and transferring research results to business. The ESC@WWU (Exzellenz Start-up Center) , set up with partners, is a platform for start-ups involving knowledgeand technology-based companies. Münster is one of six universities which, in the coming five years, will be receiving start-up funding from the 150 million euros available for the initiative. “We want to concentrate potential for spin-offs and implement them using innovative approaches,” says project leader Prof. Thorsten Wiesel from the University’s Marketing Center Münster. Among other things being planned, five Professorships for Entrepreneurship are due to be set up. Further elements are the expansion of advisory and coaching offers for people planning a start-up, ideas scouting and talent scouting, and the establishment of teaching and qualification offers.

At the University of Münster, almost one in four of the 45,000 students is enrolled in a teacher training course, making Münster one of the largest teacher-training universities in Germany. In communicating the content of their subjects in the classroom, teachers have a central role to play - also because they exemplify a science-based approach. For this reason, the teachers of tomorrow are another example of knowledge transfer at Münster University. Exchanges between the University and schools takes place in the form of dialogue. On the one hand, trainee teachers have a semester of practical training at a school - as a result of which, since February 2015, they have the opportunity not only to gain experience in teaching but also to deal with questions arising from this practical training using methods from subject-related and educational research. And, on the other hand, teachers on temporary “loan” to Münster University can share their school experiences with researchers and in seminars for trainee teachers. “Both sides - our students as well as the teachers - profit from being able to network actively,” says Prof. Martin Stein, the Director of the Teacher Training Centre (ZfL).

Source: “wissen

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