Ourania Lampou

4th Primary School of Artemida, Attica, Greece

Ourania Lampou

Ourania’s love for children and interest in science popularisation led her to dedicate her career to teaching. In recent years she has taught in a public primary school in an eastern suburb of Athens that has poor infrastructure and premises. Many students are underprivileged, malnourished or reliant on food donations, posing additional challenges. The economic crisis in Greece has also meant that Ourania has sometimes given her own money so that children can have the best learning opportunities and experiences.

The Greek school curriculum does not include modern physics for primary school pupils, so in response Ourania redesigned the syllabus while keeping the rest of the school program running smoothly. Teaching abstract ideas to a young audience is challenging, and children can find the concepts of elementary particles difficult to understand. Ourania therefore used materials that drew their attention, excited their imagination and motivated their creativity – such as Lego, clay, and cardboard. She also used an interdisciplinary and innovative approach, using painting, drama and music alongside experiment and observation. By combining STEM education with art-infused instruction she has reinvigorated the role of creativity and innovation in STEM, empowering students to become ′′out-of-the-box′′ thinkers and creators. Students also made use of a variety of digital tools that transformed lessons into an attractive and dynamic process.

Ourania also had the opportunity to participate as a teacher in Playing with Protons, a pioneering and innovative science education program organised by CERN that teaches basic concepts of particle physics to primary school students. The basic idea of the program is that the concepts of modern physics can be taught through play-based methods. The aim of the program is also to familiarise teachers with modern physics, so that they can successfully transfer their knowledge to both their students and their colleagues.

Outside school, Ourania has collaborated in the production of a show on European School Radio about women physicists from Marie Curie’s time onward. She also won the Gold Award for STEM in the Educational Leaders Awards competition 2018. If awarded the Global Teacher Prize, Ourania would contribute money for students and teachers to be able to visit the CERN installation. In addition, she would found a STEM lab for children to help them get acquainted with robotics, engineering, science and experimentation.