Learning in the Laboratory: Researching Phenomena of Biology and Chemistry

The Atelierschule in Zurich, established in 2003, is the joint integrative high school of the Rudolf Steiner Schools in Sihlau, Winterthur and Zurich. These have teamed up in order to not only be able to open up access to higher vocational colleges or universities of applied sciences to their students, but also provide them with the opportunity to obtain the Swiss university entrance qualification following the 13th grade. Like the German High School graduation, the Abitur, this course of education qualifies the holder to attend university, and is recognized in Switzerland at both the cantonal and federal level.

What is special about the Atelierschule (Studio School) in this respect: Irrespective of the leaving qualification aimed at, the students of all courses of education attend the 10th to 12th grades together, and benefit from a school concept that includes providing a broad general education, as well as project-related learning and extra-curricular hands-on activities.

The educational approach is centered on the workshop tuition, which is, across the 11th and 12th grades, devoted to the independent development of eagerness (to learn) and the ability to devote oneself to a given task. In major subjects, that are conducted as workshops, for a number of successive afternoons the young people work on projects that they can freely choose. The school currently offers workshops, for example, in Artistic and Textile Design, as well as Music, Dancing or Theater, but then also in Biology and Chemistry. In order to create even better working conditions for these scientific subjects, a large historic building in the Plattenstrasse was converted, in 2019, into a laboratory building, which the students of the Atelierschule (Studio School) use along with other classes from the Rudolf Steiner School in Zurich.

“The new laboratory building forms the ideal foundation for contemporary tuition”, explains SAGST Project Manager Andreas Rebmann. “The students are given extensive opportunities to address matters falling into the field of the Natural Sciences through experimentation and research.” The four floors have been furnished with the most advanced equipment: The subjects of Chemistry, Biology and Physics each occupy an entire floor, with facilities which, in addition to a tuition area, comprise a directly adjoining laboratory, as well as ancillary rooms for preparation and storing materials. On the ground floor there is a multi-functional classroom, as well as a number of general-purpose rooms.