Interview with Grenoble Institute of Technology’s Fanny Poinsotte*
Categorie(s) : Education, Interviews, Life @ MINATEC, MINATEC, News
Published : 4 February 2013
“Some 1,500 young people benefitted from our school outreach programs last year.”
From nanoscience classes and a robotics competition to the Science Fair and High Tech U, Grenoble Institute of Technology’s school outreach programs are gaining in popularity. What do you think is driving this momentum?
The kinds of programs we run can really motivate students and broaden their horizons, especially for high-school students. We make three major contributions. First, our lab equipment is unlike anything most students see in their schools—and we want to show it off! Second, our researchers are experts in highly-specialized fields. Finally, our university students play a role by showing youngsters that they, too, can go to engineering school.
Which programs are the most effective?
Last year, we attracted nearly 1,500 youngsters for programs ranging from 4 hours to more than 60 hours. Special activities like clean room tours always make an impression, as does our extremely popular Science Fair.
Longer programs focusing on a single topic (which typically include tours, classroom instruction, lab experiments, and philosophical or ethical discussions)—like the nanoscience course at Grenoble’s Mounier High School or the science course at a local middle school—are also very popular. We work with the kids’ teachers to develop multidisciplinary courses.
And what about the scientists involved?
Are they as enthusiastic as the kids? We are lucky to have had several hundred researchers participate in our outreach programs in 2012, and all of them gave us positive feedback. What strikes them the most is how much they enjoy sharing their passion, and the sense of purpose they get from working with youngsters. For many students, our programs are the first time they think about issues like civic duty and activism. So, for all you scientists out there, we are always looking for more volunteers!
* Head of Grenoble Institute of Technology’s campus life and equal opportunity initiatives, and a professor of applied physics at Grenoble Institute of Technology-Phelma.