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Raising awareness of science among an ever-younger audience

Since 2015, SOLEIL has been partnering the Yvelines and Essonne Departmental Inspectorates of Primary Education with the "Lumières Primaires" project. This partnership involves designing and providing elementary school teachers with trunks containing teaching materials for implementing experimental activities, as well as training and supporting the teaching teams involved.

"It's too complicated! They're too young!". Here's what we often hear when we talk about experimental and scientific activities with young children. Science does indeed have an image of a discipline reserved for specialists.

Yet the stakes of scientific culture are immense, and are increasingly highlighted by the recent health, energy and climate crises, as well as training and recruitment of scientists issues. And children need to be immersed in scientific culture from a very early age, as they have not yet developed any apprehension, but are curious, open-minded and have few preconceived ideas. It's at a very early age that we can and must introduce them to the scientific approach, so that they understand the role of science in society and can later assess the relevance of the scientific or pseudo-scientific information with which they are confronted.

To counter these preconceived ideas, SOLEIL has been developing a partnership with the Yvelines and Essonne national education inspectorates since 2015: the Lumières Primaires project. 
A fourth educational kit, this time on the theme of "Magnetism and sustainable development", was finalized in 2023. It had previously been tested by a CE1 class at the Pré Saint Jean school in Buc (78) and by a kindergarten class at the Jean-Baptiste Clément school in Trappes (78). The Trappes teachers were particularly impressed by the project:
"We were quick to notice how involved and motivated the children were, and project work is always very rewarding, especially when it raises questions, allows them to manipulate and is ambitious. The more demanding and ambitious it is, the more motivated and involved they are." (Berengère Balaire and Jeanne Lemoigne, kindergarten teachers in Trappes).

A pupil at Jean-Baptiste Clément school in Trappes manipulates one of the magnets from the educational trunk to assess its strength.

Over several weeks in June 2022, the two teachers worked with these 5–6-year-olds on a genuine scientific investigation into the subject of magnets, demonstrating that science can be accessible to all. And those children, from a very early age, are capable of observing, hypothesizing, thinking about experiments and carrying them out to derive new knowledge - and doing so as rigorously as the scientific process demands! 

The new "Magnetism and Sustainable Development" trunk complements the 3 other trunks already available on the themes of light and shadow, color and energy. 
What is a magnet? Is a small magnet always very weak? How do you generate electricity with a magnet? Or conversely, how do you create a magnet with electricity? These are just some of the questions this new trunk is designed to answer. In June 2023, it was handed over to the Yvelines National Education "Science" working group for loan to teachers who request it. 


The new educational trunk, well-stocked, ready to be used in other classes in Yvelines.