Last Friday, April 13, Joachim Hecker, a science author who travels the world to engage with students beyond their curriculum, visited Salem High School.
Over the course of 90 minutes – 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. – the Science Reporter for Public Broadcast System in Germany performed live science experiments, interacted with students and answered questions inside the school’s auditorium.
When junior Bridgett Ring learned that Mr. Hecker was going to be a guest speaker, she didn’t quite know what to expect.
“I went in with an open mind and ended up having a great time,” she said. “You can feel his passion. He certainly has a way of making learning fun.”
Joachim emphasized to the students that “just one percent of science happens in the lab, all other science happens around us and in our body.”
“Science is anywhere around us, and with an open mind you can enjoy it,” he said. “I have to try out many, many things before I can demonstrate them during a show. I don’t like this; I love it.”
Not only is Diane Rice the Salem High School German Teacher, but she’s also the German Club and National German Honor Society sponsor as well. Within seconds, she knew her answer when the German Embassy in Washington, D.C. sent her an email asking if she would be interested in having Mr. Hecker speak at Salem High School about Germany and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).
“Since I am a big fan of STEM, I replied with a big ‘YES.’ Of course, I had to get permission from the school, but that wasn’t a problem. The embassy was kind enough to cover his expenses,” she said. “Germany is one of the world leaders in STEM research and development. Sometimes I hear that people are not interested in studying German because they don’t think it’s important, but it is.”
Natalie Valentine, President of the Salem High German Club, says her favorite part about Mr. Hecker’s visit was seeing him light things on fire.
“I think today was a great experience for everyone involved,” she said. “Events like this gives students an opportunity to better understand science and how it impacts us every single day.”
As impressed as the students were with Mr. Hecker, he acknowledges being equally impressed with them, if not more.
“I was astonished by Salem High School. They actually own an auditorium, which is something most schools in Germany can only dream of,” he said. “I had a fantastic experience from start to finish. I would love to return one day.”