Children's University

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Children's University in Frankfurt am Main (2009).

Children's universities since 2002 to more than 50 universities and colleges developed events that children that science should convey simple and understandable. The aim is to get children excited about science and at the same time to awaken a greater understanding of how knowledge is imparted at universities. The events also serve to promote the institution by motivating children to think scientifically and thus addressing them as future students.


The Schwäbisches Tagblatt , a daily newspaper published in Tübingen , and the Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen organized the Tübingen Children's University in 2002, which became known in German-speaking countries through an article in the weekly newspaper " Die Zeit ". Between 1992 and 1996, a “Lecture for Children” was offered once a semester at the University of Münster . The Young University of Innsbruck University started in September 2001, on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the discovery of the man in the ice (“ Ötzi ”) with an event for children and young people. The Vienna Children's University (founded in 2003) is one of the largest and most extensive children's universities in Europe with around 4,000 children taking part every year and more than 400 courses. Seven Viennese universities and technical colleges are involved.

The idea of ​​the children's university was further developed by almost 100 universities in Austria , Switzerland , Italy , Slovakia , Colombia , Poland, Portugal, Belgium and Liechtenstein . After the Pisa shock in Germany, the children's university idea met with great interest and media coverage, with hundreds of professors offering lectures. Some universities of applied sciences and music colleges now also organize their own children's universities.

In December 2005, the Children's University in Tübingen received the Descartes Prize of the EU in the science communication category. It is endowed with a total of 250,000 euros, the children's university received 50,000 euros. In September 2009 the initiators of the first children's university in Tübingen, Ulrich Janßen and Ursula Steuerungagel, both editors of the Schwäbisches Tagblatt, received the Federal Cross of Merit on ribbon .

Children's universities have now become an important trademark of universities and demonstrate their anchoring in the population. The activity of individual children's universities does not only extend to the implementation of child-friendly lectures. In the meantime there are also some books that take up the lecture content and bring the children closer to them in greater depth. Three children's university books were instant bestsellers and translated into 13 languages. The authors Ulla Steuerungagel and Ulrich Janßen, founders of the first German children's university, were nominated for the youth literature award and awarded the Corine International Book Prize.

The European Children's Universities Network (EUCU.NET), which was founded by the Children's Office of the University of Vienna on behalf of the European Commission, aims to take stock of ongoing children's university activities and to network the organizers. EUCU.NET identified 400 activities similar to children's universities around the world and brings together more than 70 partner organizations.

In 2008, the first year-round children's university in Germany opened in Wuppertal , the Junior University , an extracurricular, privately financed and non-profit educational and research institution for children, adolescents and young adults aged 4 to 20.


The age group of 8 to 12 year olds is usually addressed. In the meantime, many children's universities, one of the first the Young University of Innsbruck, also offer events for younger children and young people. The Uniclub, which is aimed at young people aged 13 and over, has developed from the Vienna Children's University. Since 2007, the JuniorUniGraz has been offering events for young people between the ages of 10 and 18, in Salzburg the Paris-Lodron University has been offering regular events for 14-18 year olds as part of the SchülerUNI since 2010. Most children's universities are organized in the form of a series of lectures. The individual lectures are complemented by theatrical scenes, shows, experiments for children or demonstration experiments, quiz sheets or votes by the audience and others to loosen up and illustrate. Due to the high demand, events with more than 1000 children are not uncommon. As a rule, parents are not allowed to attend these events. You can often watch the lectures on screens outside the classroom .

The Children's University of Tübingen pursues the concept of offering one large course per week in the current semester. The children stay in constant contact with the university. The Children's University of Tübingen can be seen as a pioneer of this model. The Vienna Children's University is a model for children's universities, which offer lectures as well as workshops and seminars and offer children options from an extensive range of more than 400 events and encourage children to pursue their interests; encounters and dialogue with scientists at eye level is the focus.

In contrast to the lectures and mass events for children, the Young University of Innsbruck has been offering mostly interactive workshops for children and young people since 2001. The children and adolescents work in small groups with a large number of supervisors directly with the scientist, whereby the mutual transfer of knowledge is the focus and not the one-sided monologue of a lecturer, "hands on" and " learning by doing " are in the foreground.

Most children's universities issue certificates of participation, children's diplomas or other forms of symbolic certificates.

In Austria, the “Children's University” program is currently offered in Innsbruck , Vienna , Steyr , Graz , Salzburg and Krems. The Young University Innsbruck takes place all year round and has developed a large number of programs for different age groups: Action days in autumn for school classes and families, Young University for talents for very interested children, Children's Summer University in the semester and Easter - and summer holidays, Youth into Science - scientific project weeks for young people from 15 years and the Children's University Express, which was carried out in 2006 together with the Children's University Vienna. Up to 13,000 children and young people attend the Junge Uni events each year. From the very beginning, the Junge Uni has also worked with schools and non-university institutions (e.g. holiday train for the city of Innsbruck, Sprachinsel association) in order to address children and young people from all social classes as well as possible. Since 2007, the Vorarlberg State Conservatory has offered Austria's first Children's Music University.

Children's University Vienna takes place in summer and offers two full weeks of university life with more than 400 lectures, workshops and seminars from which children can freely choose. And so that they can really enjoy university life, the children receive a study book, ID cards, dine in the cafeteria, read in the library, write articles for the university newspaper, watch university television and have plenty of opportunity to get to know other “students”. The events are held on a voluntary basis by scientists from the various universities in Vienna (e.g. Mr. Beam, Prof. Anton Zeilinger ). The Vienna Children's University consists of the “Children's University Science” at the University of Vienna (since 2003), the “Children's University Medicine” at the Medical University of Vienna in 2005, the “Children's University Technology” at the Technical University of Vienna in 2007 and the Children's University Boku at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in 2009, and the Children's University Veterinary Medicine , 2014 KinderuniFH Campus and 2015 KinderuniWirtschaft at the Vienna University of Economics and Business. Graduation from the Vienna Children's University is graduation in the large ballroom of the University of Vienna . In total, the Vienna Children's University offers over 26,000 places (over 400 events per semester) in free lectures, workshops, seminars and excursions. Two thirds of the children registered come from Vienna. The catchment area extends to Vorarlberg.

In addition to the Vienna Children's University, the “Children's University Art ” was established in 2005 at the University of Applied Arts Vienna in cooperation with Viennese art universities.

The lectures in Steyr and Krems are also during the summer holidays, in Graz they are attended regularly in the winter and summer semesters. Krems offers a “young university” for the older ones - the 11 to 14 year olds. The lectures in Krems are based on the courses at the IMC University of Applied Sciences Krems on subjects such as biotechnology, law, management, information technology, management, etc. In the afternoon, a fun & action program is offered for the young students. The KinderUniSteyr has organized two summer academies since 2006 - the SchlauFuchsAkademien Ennstal and Kirchdorf.

Honorary professors at KinderUniGraz are the famous children's book author and “ Research Express Father” Thomas Brezina and Folke Tegethoff, the well-known storyteller and children's book author. The JuniorUniGraz merged with the KinderUniGraz in 2010, which now covers the age range of 8 to 19 year olds. KinderUniGraz is a cooperation between the four Graz universities (Karl Franzens University, Technical University, Medical University, Art University), the two Graz universities of applied sciences, FH JOANNEUM and FH CAMPUS02, and the two universities of teacher education, PH Graz and KPH (Church Education University). A year-round program is offered. These include the autumn semester week, the summer semester week, lecture series, additional workshops and the four-week summer children's university. In addition, the best pre-scientific works in the natural sciences are evaluated by scientists from the University of Graz and awarded by the non-profit private foundation Kaiserschild (Dr. Hans Riegel specialist prizes). In the humanities field, the KFU JuniorAcademic Prize is awarded by the Graz Children's University. At the end of the year, KinderUniGraz students have the opportunity to register for “graduation”.

Typical lecture titles

The lecture titles are often based on children's questions such as:

  • Why are there poor and rich?
  • Why do astronauts need spacesuits?
  • Can we predict the future?
  • How did the ancient Greeks learn to write (and what could they do with it)?
  • Does the tree have a soul?
  • Do “fries” make you fat and pasta happy?
  • Why are we smarter than robots?
  • Why is gaming important?
  • Why everyone is addicted to Harry Potter - or: What makes a good story?
  • What makes the cake batter rise and why is the soda bubbly?
  • Why is the peacock so gorgeous?
  • Why am i me

See also


The lecture series of the most successful children's universities have been summarized in books.

  • Ulrich Janßen, Ulla Steuerungagel: The children's university. Researchers explain the riddles of the world . DVA, Stuttgart 2003, ISBN 3-421-05695-1 (paperback edition: dtv, Munich 2005, ISBN 978-3-423-34211-7 )
  • Ulrich Janßen, Ulla Steuerungagel: The children's university. Second semester . 2004 DVA, Stuttgart 2004, ISBN 3-421-05808-3 (paperback edition: dtv Munich 2006, ISBN 978-3-423-34334-3 )
  • Ulrich Janßen, Ulla Steuerungagel: The children's university. Third semester . 2005 DVA, Stuttgart 2004. ISBN 3-421-05867-9 (paperback edition: dtv, Munich 2007, ISBN 978-3-423-34426-5 )
  • Tobias Barth: Know what's behind it! Friederike and Konrad conquer the world of science. The book about the Children's University of Magdeburg . University of Magdeburg 2006, ISBN 3-935971-33-8 .
  • Tobias Barth: Friederike and Konrad travel on through the world of science, the second book on the Children's University of Magdeburg . University of Magdeburg 2010, ISBN 978-3-935971-33-1 .
  • Kim Magister, Katharina Leiberg: Why are we all so terribly curious? A book by the Children's University of Dresden , Technische Universität Dresden 2005, ISBN 978-3-86005-482-6 .
  • Kim Magister, Katharina Leiberg: Why do we look like our parents? The second book of the Children's University of Dresden , Technical University of Dresden 2007, ISBN 978-3-86005-569-4 .
  • Kim Magister, Katharina Leiberg: Why is there no Neanderthal man among your classmates? A book from the Children's University of Dresden , Technische Universität Dresden 2008, ISBN 978-3-86780-096-9 .
  • Manfred Frank : Why am I me? A question for children and adults , Insel Verlag, Frankfurt 2007, ISBN 978-3-45817-349-6 .

Web links

Commons : Children's Universities  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Marianne Moesle: The youngest want to know . In: The time . No. 29/2002 . Zeitverlag, July 11, 2002, ISSN  0044-2070 ( full text; registration required ).
  2. ↑ Vienna Children's University 2018 with 4,224 enthusiastic students! In: July 23, 2018, accessed August 4, 2018 .
  3. IST Austria participates in the Vienna Children's University for the second time. In: July 24, 2018, accessed August 4, 2018 .
  4. Children's university receives “Descartes Prize for Science Communication”. In: Ulla Steuerungagel, Ulrich Janßen, accessed on September 17, 2017 .
  5. ^ Public Member Directory. In: Retrieved September 17, 2017 (English).
  6. Archived copy ( memento of the original from October 12, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /