The Young Explorer Clubs programme coordinated by the Copernicus Science Centre is addressed to children and youth at all ages. It started as a national Polish programme, and developed into an international one (there are already clubs in Georgia, Russia and Belarus). Under the supervision of teachers and educators, young explorers carry out experiments and scientific research. The key to the programme is the approach that abstains from providing ready answers, and encourages independence instead. It is not an easy task because it requires from the adult to abandon his or her role of an expert and to allow the protégées to commit errors.
Various hypotheses may be tested in the clubs; after all the notion of a mistake is foreign to the research method. Clubs may also use a database of tested experiment scenarios, exchange ideas and organise joint projects.
The clubs are one of the model educational solutions developed in Poland by the teachers of natural sciences (on the initiative of Mr Janusz Laska and the Kłodzk Educational Society) supported by the Polish-American Freedom Foundation. For several years now, the programme has been managed by the Copernicus Science Centre, which supports over 180 clubs in Poland and 10 clubs beyond its borders in terms of content and logistics.
The clubs, and in particular their members and supervisors, are also an important factor that contributes to changes in their schools and local environment – they organise science festivals, nights of experiments, science picnics, educational exchanges with other schools and projects with partner clubs.
Thus they contribute to the extension of the educational offer of their schools. They also change the relations between pupils and teachers, and the YEC methods are adopted by the teachers of other subjects and specialists working with children.
Young Explorer Clubs may be established at schools, school clubs, art centres and other educational facilities. Each club has to have its own adult supervisor, who will organise periodic meetings of its members.
Club meetings are usually held after classes, in the afternoon or e.g. on Saturdays. Each of them is prepared in terms of its organisation, materials and logistics by the instructor in close cooperation with the club members.
Young Explorer Clubs use simple, easily available, cheap, recycled materials.
Our experiments do not require expensive specialist equipment. As a result, club members may reproduce experiments at home, in the backyard or with friends.
The database with scenarios and more information about the programme as well as instructions on how to set up a Club are available at www.kmo.org.pl (in the Polish language) or upon an e-mail request sent at firstname.lastname@example.org