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These days, organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) are increasingly being used in cell phone and television displays in an effort to save energy. But how do they work? The answer provides an exciting basis for a hands-on lesson. To make learning as engaging as possible, we provide teachers with a suitcase of materials designed specifically to help them show their students in both Germany and now India exactly how OLEDs work. Amitabh Banerji, an education expert from the University of Cologne, has been working with our company to develop this continuing education program, which he rolled out in Mumbai at the end of 2017. Christa Jansen (head of School Partnerships within our company) and Klaus Griesar (in charge of Science Relations) have teamed up with Banerji to run the project as part of the Indo German Teachers Program.

Education and culture Amitabh Banerji, Christa Jansen

Christa Jansen:

Hi, Amitabh! Didn't you just return from your project trip to India today? How was it? I'm excited to hear about it!

2:10 PM

Amitabh Banerji:

Hi, Christa! Yup, I landed in Cologne this morning. The trip was great! The teachers really enjoyed the training.

2:11 PM

Christa Jansen:

Glad to hear it! What did they particularly like?

2:12 PM

Amitabh Banerji:

Many of them thought it was great that the materials suitcase was so hands-on…  They can use it to teach their students about OLEDs through experimentation. Even the teachers themselves got really excited when the OLEDs started to light up! This was the first time many of them had seen how this technology actually works. Here’s a video of a participant describing his experience.

2:12 PM

Amitabh Banerji sends a video.

Amitabh Banerji:

2:12 PM

Christa Jansen:

Great! Sounds like a successful trip. They were all teachers from Mumbai, right?

2:13 PM

Amitabh Banerji:

Not all were from Mumbai. Some of them traveled from Pune, 150 kilometers away. The group was quite diverse: high school teachers, college lecturers, physicists, chemists, material researchers…

2:13 PM

Christa Jansen:

Squeezing such a wide array of knowledge together into one group must have been challenging. And didn't you also visit a village school?

2:14 PM

Amitabh Banerji:

Indeed we did! 2.5 hours from Mumbai. It was a completely different world. That school really only offers traditional blackboard teaching simply because the space doesn’t allow otherwise.

2:14 PM

Christa Jansen:

So our OLED experiment kits wouldn’t really be suitable there. The reality of those students’ lives is completely different.

2:14 PM

Amitabh Banerji:

Very true! For students in big cities, OLEDs are an exciting part of everyday life – after all, their smartphones and the TVs they have at home all use this technology.

2:15 PM

Christa Jansen:

Yeah, and daily student life is a really important factor in designing continuing education courses for teachers. We always base our efforts on the realities they face every day. So what was your biggest takeaway from this trip? Do you think they’ll be keen to borrow the ten suitcases that we left?

2:15 PM

Amitabh Banerji:

It was great when the teachers told us how much this support and continuing education means to them. In India, there are hardly any school booster programs, and schools have very tight budgets. The first set of educators have already contacted me about borrowing the suitcases.

2:15 PM

Christa Jansen:

This was another of the reasons we wanted to launch a project there. Was there anything you felt could be improved?

2:16 PM

Amitabh Banerji:

Yes, of course. There's always room for improvement. The differences between the Indian and German education systems were clear to see. Indian teachers told us, for instance, that the OLED experiment would be better suited to first-year university students than to high school pupils.

2:16 PM

Christa Jansen:

I see. This is obviously part of our learning process. After all, the experiment was originally designed for German high school seniors, and it’s clear that we can’t just implement such a concept one to one in other systems. All the better that you're supervising and assessing the project from a scientific perspective, which will allow us to adapt the initiative and improve it: CR Report of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany on the commitment to education

2:16 PM

Christa Jansen:

How did the students who accompanied you to India enjoy their experience?

2:17 PM

Amitabh Banerji sends a picture.

Amitabh Banerji:

2:17 PM

Amitabh Banerji:

They thought it was fantastic! When pursuing an education degree in Germany, students rarely have the chance to gain experience abroad.

2:17 PM

Christa Jansen:

That's true – such a shame.

2:17 PM

Amitabh Banerji:

Maybe we could do something like this again soon? It would be great for companies like us to offer more programs for student teachers since there are very few options, especially in STEM subjects.

2:17 PM

Christa Jansen:

Good idea! After all, we have the student lab at the Technical University of Darmstadt. It’s an initiative aimed at both students and educators, so it's also related to getting a degree in education. Something like this would definitely be doable at other universities.

2:17 PM

Amitabh Banerji:

We need to focus on finding continually fresh and exciting topics that we can offer teachers for use in their lesson planning.

2:17 PM

Christa Jansen:

Have you got any new ideas? Keep 'em coming!

2:17 PM

Amitabh Banerji:

As an education expert, I think it's great when I can speak with experimental researchers about their current work. It always leads to brilliant new ideas for lesson planning. But it's really hard to make contact with such people… After all, you don't want to tip your hand and let people see your latest research work.

2:17 PM

Christa Jansen:

You're right, companies need to be more open about that. I firmly believe that both parties would benefit from this kind of interaction. After all, in the long run a good teaching technique means a well-qualified pool of up-and-coming talent!

2:17 PM

Amitabh Banerji:

Precisely! And in the meanwhile, you've been using the suitcase yourselves within the company. Well, I have to head to campus now – despite the jet lag. I'll drop you a line as soon as the results are in.

2:18 PM

Christa Jansen:

Okay, until then!

2:18 PM

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Amitabh Banerji

Junior Professor of Chemistry and Chemistry Education

Amitabh Banerji’s research is focused on innovative approaches to teaching chemistry. In doing so, he incorporates socially relevant developments in science and technology to make them accessible to educators and students.

Born in:

Chittaranjan, India

Joined the University of Cologne in:

2014

Education:

PhD in Chemistry Education from the University of Wuppertal

Focus areas:

  • Inspiring a passion for STEM subjects
  • Making research accessible to teachers and students
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Christa Jansen

Head of School Partnerships

Christa Jansen is the head of School Partnerships within our company, where she is dedicated to promoting science education. She develops her own techniques in an effort to open up the world of science to children and adolescents.

Born in:

Trier, Germany

Joined Merck in:

1989

Education:

PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Mainz

Focus areas:

  • Developing concepts to promote science
  • Promoting places of learning outside the classroom, driving education development and encouraging career guidance in schools

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