After Meike van den Eijnden, TU/e student and chair of Team Edu, had given her first lecture, she was surprised to learn that even in elementary school, today’s youth are fully engaged with sustainability. “We didn’t really think about it when I was still in school, but students of today know quite a lot about it, through school or their parents. About plastics or energy lamps, for example; they largely understand quite well what’s right and what’s wrong.”
Nevertheless, there’s still enough informing and inspiring left to do. Not just among students - Team Energy’s primary target group - but also among ‘the younger generation.’ Team Edu is a commission within Team Energy and focusses on the latter group, particularly on high school students and students in the upper classes of primary school. Van den Eijnden: “We want to make them think about sustainability, about how they themselves can make an impact with one small adjustment, for example.”
From nuclear energy to recycling
The team’s (growing) catalogue contains guest lectures on a variety of topics, such as energy transition and solar and wind energy, as well as more specific modules on biomass (in alignment with chemistry classes in high school) or nuclear energy (as a supplement to the physics curriculum). “Schools often have their own ideas,” Van den Eijnden says. “‘Do you have something on recycling?’ Then we develop a module that’s in line with the theme the school is working on at that moment.”
Schools also find it interesting when the students of Team Edu talk a little bit about themselves, Van den Eijnden noticed. “We have quite a few girls on our team right now, and schools like us to tell the students why we decided to pursue a career in technology, and how it gives us the opportunity to make the world a better place.”
Read on below the photo.
Interest in Team Edu’s guest lectures grew rapidly after the start in the fall of 2019, the chair says. “Sometimes we gave eight lectures a week.” But then the corona crisis broke out, and schools had to close down nine months ago. “The lectures stopped then, but we continued to develop new modules.”
The schools have reopened some time ago now, and the interest in Team Edu’s guest lectures is slowly starting to grow again - mostly from primary schools as of yet, “high schools are still a bit more careful.” Currently, the team visits two schools a month on average, to give several lectures in different classes.
One of the team’s current goals is to present itself a bit more explicitly. Not just to schools (“it would be great if we could create something of a name for ourselves there, and to become a regular feature of their curriculum”), but also to potential new ‘Educators’: enthusiastic students who want to give lectures on a voluntary basis, in exchange for a valuable learning experience and an extension of their CVs.
Potential new Educators who want to strengthen the team (the objective is to have a pool of about twenty students) aren’t required to follow a specific program or to have any specific expertise. “We try do design our modules in such a way that Educators aren’t required to have that much prior knowledge.” Also, new Educators are always accompanied by a more experienced team member - even though they don’t always have all the answers either, Van den Eijnden says. “Fortunately, the teachers usually also like to join in.”
The Educators have flexible working hours, which they can determine in consultation. Van den Eijnden: “We try to schedule people once every two months on average. It’s always possible to give more lectures, when you enjoy it and have time for it.”
Team Edu charges schools fifteen euros for a guest lecture of approximately one hour - but that’s a guideline, not an obligation. “We started last year by asking a voluntary contribution. Now we know: most schools have a pot of money for things like this,” Van den Eijnden says. The money from the schools goes directly back into the team: “That allows us to buy new materials, for example, which we can use for the modules.”