The desire to get to the bottom of something: why is it like this and not like that? Children's curiosity is inexhaustible and their enthusiasm to try new things almost unstoppable.
With Experimento, we offer an educational program that directly engages with the environment of children and young people. It is based on the principle of learning through discovery, in which children and young people actively shape their individual learning processes. They develop questions independently, work out answers using a variety of methods, reflect on the solutions and prepare the results themselves. In this way, the young scientists begin to recognize that success comes from their own actions – a valuable experience which motivates them and strengthens their trust in their own capabilities. By exchanging hypotheses and methods as part of a group and looking for solutions together, they also practice their communication and social skills.
The concept of Experimento supports both independent discovery by children and young people and the role of teachers and educators. Students and teachers co-constructively shape the learning process together. Educators enable the students to gather diverse experiences and assist them in the cognitive process.
Experimento was developed in Germany for international use by Siemens Stiftung together with the Little Scientists’ House (Haus der kleinen Forscher) foundation, the experts Dieter Arnold and Dr. Lutz Stäudel, and other independent educators.
A comprehensive educational approach
Experimento understands the need for a comprehensive educational approach and also promotes the teaching and development of the following skills and attitudes:
How does our planet work? How does the world work? How do our bodies work? Science answers these questions using the principles of physics, chemistry, and biology. First and foremost, science also shapes important areas for the future such as health and nutrition, energy and climate, communication, security, and mobility. The international educational program Experimento also provides students with relevant knowledge of scientific interrelationships in the fields of energy, health, and environment. Where does electricity come from? How do I purify dirty water? How important is food for our body? Children and young people aged from 4 to 18 use everyday questions to discover scientific interrelationships and find out what makes the world go round.
Technology plays a special role in shaping our everyday lives and offers enormous potential for tackling the challenges of the present-day and our future. Knowing how to keep our knowledge up to date gives us the skills to find our way and act effectively in our highly technological world. A sound basic education in technology is therefore not just a functional skill, but also an important part of our self-development. With Experimento, we offer appealing teaching and learning methods that awaken and promote children and young people's interest in technology. Specially chosen experiments enable them directly to explore how specific technologies work, for example in energy production and recycling. The activities reveal how technology can be used to solve global challenges such as the greenhouse effect, the use of renewable energies and drinking water production.
Values provide a sense of direction, guide us and strengthen our identity. They steer and support our personal and professional development. As well as the family environment, schools also impart valuable skills and attitudes that empower children to develop their own outlook on life, play a part in society and move in a complex world. Siemens Stiftung's Experimento program aims to facilitate this academic development process. It uses teaching and learning methods (cooperative forms of learning, solution-oriented working) that promote personal and social abilities such as perception, conflict-solving, cooperation and proactive behavior. With content relating to energy and the environment, Experimento concentrates on communicating social values such as responsibility and commitment to nature, the environment and sustainability. The topic of health gives children and young people a greater awareness of their own self-development.
Siemens Stiftung has developed a variety of approaches for integrating values education into the teaching of science and technology. The foundation has launched an initial model project with the aim of contributing both to social change and scientific research.
Service learning in the STEM subjects
Siemens Stiftung and the Freudenberg Foundation champion discovery-, action- and value-based learning in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). With their “Service learning in STEM subjects” model project, the foundations aim to show how the content taught in STEM subjects can go hand in hand with social engagement. To this end, they are providing educators with a form of teaching and learning that motivates students to take responsibility, develop greater environmental awareness and make sustainability, solidarity and social justice an important dimension of their work. To realize this objective, the two foundations have linked their programs – Siemens Stiftung's science and technology education program “Experimento” and the Freudenberg Foundation's “Service-Learning – Learning through Civic Engagement” – and developed the model project, which is one of the first of its kind in terms of the content and methods used.
Students in the 5th grade, for example, explore nutrients and the composition of food in biology lessons, and develop an educational game with tips for healthy eating. They then campaign in local elementary schools for a healthy school breakfast. Practically applying the theory learned in lessons makes the subject easier for students to understand. Social engagement also enables them to help others with their knowledge and skills.
The model project is being implemented by teachers at elementary and secondary schools in the state of Saxony-Anhalt. The foundations are collaborating with Saxony-Anhalt's education ministry and the state's service learning network office, which is run by the volunteer agency “Freiwilligen-Agentur Halle-Saalkreis e.V.”
Language is a key skill and the main prerequisite for an individual's life and educational opportunities. Language is also elementary to the process of science and to technology experimentation. Experiments promote the language skills of children and young people by motivating them to formulate hypotheses, describe phenomena, discuss problem-solving approaches and draw conclusions. Siemens Stiftung engages both theoretically and practically with the interrelationship between scientific and linguistic education. Together with the Little Scientists’ House Foundation and the Baden-Württemberg Stiftung, we are promoting an interdisciplinary, three-year study on early childhood science education in Germany. This is examining for the first time how science education impacts upon children's language skills. With Experimento, we offer practical supplementary materials on real-world topics for German- and English-language science teaching as part of Experimento I 10+ and picture cards for experimenting in the language learning software KIKUS digital. We want to encourage children and young people's interest in science and technology and at the same time improve their language skills.