Sch¨ulerlabors (casually called school labs or informal science labs) as out-of-school
hands-on laboratories for school students represent a STEM educational movement in
Germany and neighbouring German-speaking regions which has developed bottom-up,
starting approximately 15 years ago, and which now comprises more than 300 laboratories.
The Federal Association of Sch¨ulerlabors (1) as a kind of coordinator organizes
annual meetings and edits the “LeLa magazine”, a journal dedicated to Sch¨ulerlabor
Among the innumerable mostly short-term STEM initiatives in Germany the schlerlabors
form a large well-visible block. However, users, educational administration, potential
suppor-ters and educational scientists cannot always reliably appreciate the effect
of sch¨ulerlabor visits, because at a first glance the sch¨ulerlabor scenery looks comparatively
heterogeneous. One aim of the present contribution is to outline the mission and
the general concepts of the entirety of sch¨ulerlabors and to elaborate that meanwhile
several clearly defined categories of sch¨ulerlabors have evolved (2), which internally
are amazingly homogeneous.
At many universities, Sch¨ulerlabors have meanwhile been integrated into the education
of teacher students, but only recently it has been realized that they also represent
powerful platforms for empirical educational research (3). Studies of this kind allow
well-grounded statements about the impact of sch¨ulerlabors.
In summary, university-based sch¨ulerlabors operate at the interface between school and
university; the strategic relevance of this position is presently being recognized more
and more, also in view of the ever increasing lack of skilled technical personal in the