Children’s University of the Narva College
The Narva College of the University of Tartu opened the first Children’s University in Estonia on November the 2nd in 2007. The children’s university was specifically targeted at youngsters between 7 to 12 years of age. Since 2008 it has been 8 to 12. The lectures are held simultaneously in two languages - Estonian - the state language, and Russian - the prevalent language in Narva, in order to integrate the Estonian and Russian speaking children.
The themes for the lectures are chosen on the basis of what is not covered in school or what the parents might not have the insight to explain. The aim of the children’s university is to help the kids understand how the subjects in the school curriculum relate to the real world and why it is necessary to study them.
The children’s university strives to explain science to children in a language that they can comprehend. The lectures not only cover exact and natural sciences but also social sciences and humanities.
The opening lecture „How many stars the sky holds?” was given by the patron of the Children’s University, academic and President of Estonian Parliament Ene Ergma. The opening was also enlivened by the participation of a so called science bus the Big Dipper. Peeter Tulviste (the Member of Parliament, professor) addressed the topic of cultural differences and communication in multi-cultural society. Alar Karis (rector of the University of Tartu) spoke about genes and gene-technology and Aivar Kriiska (professor of UT) shed light to the wonderful world of history and archaeology. The children’s university also deals with more mundane themes such as banking and money, and recycling and waste management.
In 2009 four lectures were given also to children from Tartu and its surrounding. Each year there is an excursion to broaden children’s world-view. In 2009 there was a conference on topic of today’s and tomorrow’s education - the presenters were 8 to 62 years old. In school-year 2009/2010 we’ll organise some lectures for children of Tallinn, too.
The group of lecturers has grown in three years. Most of these people are professors from different faculties and even different universities. There are professors from University of Tartu, Tallinn University of Technology, Tallinn University, Estonian Academy of Arts, Institute of Theology, Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre, Estonian Business School. There are also Estonian minister of defence, well-known TV and radio journalists and the head of Estonian encyclopaedia publishers giving lectures to our “students”.
Parents as well as other interested pupils who didn’t fit into the lecture halls can follow the discourse via internet both as a live broadcast and later from a recording available at the children’s university webpage (http://www.narva.ut.ee/lasteylikool/).
The aim of the children’s university is to boost youngsters’ interest in science and knowledge. It gives extra-curricular information and facts and tries to make studying a joyful experience. The children’s university also strives to improve the kids’ communicative abilities and self-esteem making it easier for them to socialise and make friends at school but also to integrate the children with Estonian and Russian background.