/ Jana Winkler

Dr. Nadine Fröhlich receives the ABZ Medal of Honor for her contributions to computer science education


© Sandra Herkle / ETH Zürich

Dr. Nadine Fröhlich introduces children to programming with the Primalogo project. She has now been honored for her commitment.

The Medal of Honor from the Center for Computer Science Education of ETH Zurich (ABZ) for contributions to computer science education is awarded annually to teachers, computer science didactics experts, as well as schools and institutions that have made fundamental contributions to computer science education through their activities. This year, Nadine Fröhlich, who holds a PhD in computer science and has been leading the Primalogo project at the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science at the University of Basel since 2016, was also honored.

In his laudatory speech, Prof. Dennis Komm praised Nadine Fröhlich for her inspiring, exemplary, and versatile commitment within the Primalogo project. Nadine's contributions go far beyond organizing the teaching units, as she trains teachers, is involved in the training of the Primalogo team, and sometimes even teaches in the classroom herself. Her work has had a unique impact in the Basel region.

The Primalogo project has been offered in Basel since 2015 and has already reached over 300 school classes, 260 teachers, and more than 6000 children. Receiving the ABZ Medal of Honor is "the most beautiful recognition I can receive for my job," says Nadine. "It is incredibly great that our work here in Basel is being recognized. I deliberately say 'our work' because without our team of highly motivated and wonderful students who teach in the classes and convey the joy of programming to the children, this work would not be possible."

Nadine's own interest in computer science was only sparked after her school years - partly because there were hardly any opportunities for this to happen in her childhood: "Since I come from the former DDR and a small town, I had almost no contact with computers until I went to high school," Nadine recalls. And even the computer science classes offered at high school were not particularly inspiring; "they were optional, and I did attend them. However, I found the DOS and Works knowledge conveyed at the time terribly boring." As a result, it was not computer science but architecture studies that followed school and unexpectedly awakened a dormant interest. Architects also use computers to turn their ideas into tangible designs. "Even though this, of course, has little to do with the field of computer science, it still sparked my interest in computers and computer science," says Nadine. "Additionally, my then-boyfriend was very interested in computer science. He had chosen computer science as a subject in his teacher training studies. His fascination with computer science rubbed off on me."

Unlike in her childhood and school days, computer science is now indispensable and firmly anchored in everyday life. Therefore, it is important to understand what lies behind it and to impart relevant skills to children. This can build on overarching skills such as creativity and critical thinking, which also help young people critically question their environment beyond computer science. For Nadine, it is important to "advocate for computer science education that also conveys the joy and fascination of computer science because what is fun, we all prefer to do."