The Experio Roche school laboratory

The laboratory in Kaiseraugst officially opens at the beginning of 2015.

How do I make the little Lego robot go where I’d like it to, and perform the tasks I want it to? Programming and robotics can provide the answers. And true to the motto, “You’re never too young to be a programmer,” around 20 children between the ages of 10 and 14, equipped with a laptop, explored the Lego robot’s control system as part of a trial run for the new Experio Roche school laboratory. As well as trying their hand at informatics, the budding technicians also had a chance to experiment with electricity, optics and other disciplines. With the element of color to stimulate their scientific curiosity, they used a red cabbage indicator to determine the pH of various household products.

Depending on the subject matter, we can get the specialists and the trainees involved
Serge Corpataux

Starting in January 2015, school classes of very different age levels will be regular visitors to the school laboratory in the new Learning Center in Kaiseraugst. Ueli Grossenbacher, Head of Vocational Training, sees the school laboratory as an opportunity for Roche: “It’s getting harder and harder to find qualified young people interested in the varied range of apprenticeships we offer.”

Serge Corpataux, the Experio Roche Head, says that this is why it is important to promote an interest in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) among children and young people early on.The aim of the school laboratory is to nurture an interest in research and creativity. The children and young adults are assigned tasks that match their knowledge; they learn to carry out specific research activities and are encouraged to reflect on what they have done. Their project work also includes documenting the experiments and interpreting the results.

The people behind the project are confident that the new school laboratory, the only one of its kind in the region, will create a win-win situation for everyone, giving Roche’s vocational trainers a platform to present the company to potential future apprentices as a great place to learn a profession. Roche also hopes that its wide range of vocational openings will help to remove barriers to training as well as overcome gender-specific concerns. And ultimately, the labora­tory will give schools a fantastic opportunity to incorporate new elements into their STEM curricula.

The program is targeted at primary and secondary school pupils and can be adapted to age and educational level.

Experio Roche is a truly unique proposition, Serge firmly believes, because the school laboratory is in the same building as a host of specialists working directly in areas that visiting pupils will be exploring: “The modern infrastructure allows us to accommodate an entire class in all our courses, and, depending on the subject matter, we can get the specialists and trainees in the building involved.”

Serge points out that a lack of material resources means there are a lot of subject areas that schools cannot adequately cover. The Roche school laboratory has the infrastructure to perform both simple and highly complex experiments. Teachers will be able to deal with topics in greater depth here, which they often can’t do at school because of equipment limitations.

The plan at the moment is to have two to three visits a week. Target groups cover a very wide cross-section: The laboratory is to be made available not only to school classes from age ten and up, but also during school vacation to students who have the vacation pass card.

Also being explored is the possibility of theme weeks or staging special events that showcase different jobs. Other potential lab visitors include career advisors and teachers undergoing continuing education. The project leaders are very open to suggestions.

Tags: Sustainability, Philanthropy