The Jugendforschungsschiff literally translates to ‘Youth Science Boat’. The non-profit organisation helps young students understand environmental science through practical, hands-on learning. As the name suggests, everything is done on an actual boat that’s equipped with high-end microscopes, water quality measuring kits, and other bits and pieces of cool science stuff.
I came across the organisation through the Gidsy event ‘Spree River‘ workshop. I got to meet the director of the program, Uwe, who’s one cool guy and reminds me a bit of Walter White from Breaking Bad — but of course, without all the bad stuff.
One workshop led to another, and now I’m volunteering on the science boat as a facilitator and lending a helping hand whenever I can. So why am I doing this when I have a day job? Well, I’m a science geek at heart, but failed chemistry in VCE as I was never great at textbook learning, which pretty much deflated my hopes of ever becoming a forensic scientist (so I live through my dreams by watching CSI, but that’s another story). By helping out on this project, I get to pursue something completely different to my day job, and work with fantastic teachers, senior scientists, and uni students in fields I never knew existed.
What I really enjoy about this volunteer project is seeing the high school students actually enjoying the activities, and learning something about marine biology. We sometimes get the too-cool-for-school kids from the “bad” part of town who come in rapping, “Netto ist mein Ghetto.” But after an hour, they’re glued to the microscope and sketching out water fleas like there’s no tomorrow. Even with my limited German and their limited English, we’re able to connect and have fun.
The Jugendforschungsschiff is in two locations: Warschauer Brücke and also Tegel Lake. I try to volunteer once a week, whether it’s facilitating a class, or scrubbing the boat. It’s not everyday that you get to work on water and try to identify algae and arthropods. The photo below if of a water flea giving birth, which I took with an ordinary camera and a set of very steady hands.
More photos below, but to feel free to come on board some day and perhaps even lend a helping hand.