History & Concept

A Brief History of Phänomenta

Inspired by developments in the United States, Prof. Dr. Lutz Fiesser began, in the 1980s at the Institute for Physics and its Didactics at the University of Flensburg, to examine the effectiveness of simple interactive stations. This approach was not entirely new. Francis Bacon (1561-1626) described in his utopian novel "New Atlantis" a house where people could explore the phenomena of the world and make them their own experiences. Many educators have also repeatedly emphasized the importance of direct experience. A significant foundation of PHÄNOMENTA is based on the works of Martin Wagenschein.

The establishment of Phänomenta within the university premises was accompanied by extensive research. From these practical implementations, new interactive exhibits were developed and placed in the hallways. The success of the exhibition suggested the need to find more dedicated spaces. With support from the state and the city of Flensburg, a historical merchant's house was renovated and fully occupied in September 1995 with experiments from the university. Increasing visitor numbers and targeted funding made further development of PHÄNOMENTA possible through the acquisition of neighboring buildings. The exhibition is incorporated into an Association.

In 2008, PHÄNOMENTA underwent significant expansion: the exhibition area was considerably enlarged, a new service area and new group and training rooms were created. Integrated into an attractive architectural concept, the expansion represents another step in developing PHÄNOMENTA into a comprehensive science center. It engages in scientific education in the fields of natural and technical sciences and presents itself to a broad public.

Experience the World Anew

On over 2,400 square meters, you will find a variety of interactive stations inviting you to experiment. Consistent with the educational approach, there is no extensive information about the experiments at the stations. Instead, there is a question or hint to stimulate your own actions: The focus is on your immediate experience and your learning process through playful engagement with the phenomenon. It is more enjoyable to dedicate yourself to something you do not fully understand at first. Attendants are always happy to assist with questions and provide tips for understanding the phenomenon.

In the many small rooms of the former merchant's house and the spacious, modern rooms of the new building, experiments on personal perception, mechanics, optics, and many other topics can be conducted. There is no prescribed path: The focus is on the individual stations, which are to be explored alone or in a small group.

If you have uncovered a phenomenon, discovered a connection or a "law," or had an unusual experience, then the visit to PHÄNOMENTA was definitely worthwhile. Often, children and adolescents—and even adults—remember the phenomena, their own actions, and insights for a long time.

In this sense, PHÄNOMENTA primarily does not see itself as an instructive or informative institution. It aims to give space to curiosity and show how scientific and technical phenomena can be successfully explored independently.

If the visit made you aware that engaging with topics from science and technology can be fun, and if your own experiences and insights became a topic of conversation, then the trip to PHÄNOMENTA has definitely achieved its goal.