Nataliya Kazachková lost both her university office and home. The bombing of Kharkiv turned her life upside down, but the tenacious scientist did not give up. Together with her parents and younger daughter she managed to leave Ukraine, and thanks to the programme of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic “Researchers at Risk Fellowships - Ukraine”, since April she has been working at the Institute of Physics.
At the Department of Physics and Technology of the V. N. Karazin Kharkiv National University she made research in Physics Education, and now she is helping Ukrainian pupils at Czech and Slovak primary and secondary schools. Their numbers amount to tens of thousands because there are approximately 125 000 Ukrainian refugees aged between three and eighteen living in the Czech Republic.
“Today we live in a world of technical gadgets and appliances that connect complex technologies, so the cognitive skills of the young generation need to be perfectly developed and physics is the most appropriate school subject for that," explains Nataliya.
Nataliya uses her experience with the STEM concept, a modern education system that combines science, technology and mathematics. For her activities, she decided to use physical episodes of Undistorted Science as a teaching material for schools. She added Ukrainian subtitles, methodological support for teachers and other materials. Thanks to the cooperation with the Centre of Administration and Operations of the Czech Academy of Sciences, two episodes have already been published: What is an atom? and On the pressure and force around us and others will be completed in a matter of days and their premier will take place at the June Science Fair, which is preparing a special programme for Ukrainian students and their Czech teachers.
Although Ukrainian students are gradually learning Czech, they do not know the terminology in physics and it is not easy for teachers to involve them in lessons of physics, which are not popular in the Czech Republic and in Ukraine run according to different curricula. Therefore, the active scientist cooperates with the Department of Physics Education of the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics of Charles University and tries to connect the initiatives of individual internet portals that provide methodological and didactic support for Ukrainian refugees - such as the methodological rvp.cz portal, Projekt Heuréka or Elixír do škol - and activities of the Physics Olympiad type.
In addition to theory and practice, Nataliya has already tried teaching in pairs, in which she taught in a class with seven Ukrainian children in parallel with the Czech teacher Věra Koudelková, who taught the class at gen. František Fajtl primary school.
"We often hear about the third role of universities, but it is also the institutes of the Academy of Sciences that focus on outreach. I am glad that the scholarship enabled Nataliya to connect the world of science and real help in managing the refugee crisis, and I look forward to continuing our cooperation during her one-year stay at the University of Göttingen, where she received an annual scholarship from the Volkswagen Stiftung,” says Antonín Fejfar.