Fortunately, children are curious and pester their parents with why-questions: "Why don't stars fall from sky?" "Why are dinosaurs extinct?" "Why do Muslims pray on carpets?" Sometimes parents don't know, sometimes they only provide "just because" answers.
Since 2002, kids from Tübingen who are not content with their parent's knowledge or ability to explain the big and small riddles of the world, have a chance to listen to real professors and even nobel-price winners for answers.
Tübingen hosts one of Germany's oldest and most renowned university.
Since the funding of the Children's University in summer 2002, 8- to 14-year-olds can immatriculate to this university and attend to weekly lectures such as "Why do volcanoes spit fire?", "Why are Greek statues always naked?" or "Why are we not allowed to clone people?"
Top notch professors are volunteering to break down complicated topics into explanations understandablefor children.
For a full university experience, the kids get a student-ID, with which they can have dinner at the university's mensa or a snack at the cafeteria.
At the end of each lecture a quiz is being held to check how much the young audience understood. In return, questions like "What did Lion King do when ..." are directed to the professor - questions, they, contrary to the pupils, usually fail to answer. Even high paid resarchers don't know everything.
Following the semester, the participants vote for the best professor at the Children's University.
In the meantime, there is a book with some of the lectures available, which became a bestseller in Germany. The whole idea proved and continues to be such a big success that other universities, national and international, are copying it.
Tübingen's Children's University is definitely a brighter side of our otherwise sad education system.
Nobel Prize for Medicine winner Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard at the Children's University
© Spiegel Online