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Experimenting without borders
Science and technology education is the key to social wellbeing, democratic participation, opportunities and successful personal development. Educational requirements differ from country to country and are strongly influenced by the cultural setting. However, education is universally important – and experiments work everywhere.
With Experimento, we offer an educational program that aims to make children and young people in Africa, Latin America and Europe/Germany excited about scientific and technological interrelationships. The educators on the ground are able to adapt the methodology and content to the local teaching and learning requirements. These different local adaptations in turn provide an effective impetus to continually develop Experimento further and set in motion a living, beneficial cycle of new impulses and interconnected learning processes.
Before deciding to implement Experimento in a specific country, an analysis is carried out looking first and foremost at the educational curriculum in our focus region. Experimento is embedded in teaching using a variety of formats and collaborative models. In Germany and South Africa, special Experimento Centers and Science Competence Centers (SSC) ensure knowledge transfer to schools in the surrounding area. Close collaboration with universities, academies, and advanced training institutions in Latin America and South Africa have integrated the program's didactic, methodological and content-related approaches into teachers' training and continuing education.
Experimento's international orientation, the collaboration with respected local educational partners, and the use of project synergy effects guarantee effective implementation of the program. For each of our focus regions we analyze how well Experimento is working and achieving its goals.
A key prerequisite for Experimento's global acceptance and effective roll-out is our close collaboration with research and educational institutions, business, government, civil society and other partners in the focus regions of Africa, Latin America and Europe/Germany. Working with local educational partners helps the program to meet different countries' specific teaching and learning requirements.
In order to make science and technology education more effective across all countries and continents, we work to build strategic partnerships and strengthen networks and alliances in the focus regions.
To deepen and expand its teaching and learning offer, Experimento is interlinked with Siemens Stiftung's other educational projects. This creates synergy effects and provides educators with additional materials, ideas, and approaches for teaching in science and technology. The Siemens Stiftung media portal provides educators with all the Experimento pupil instructions in PDF format and also as files that they can edit to meet their own needs. Additional media such as worksheets and multiple-choice exercises help students to practice, reflect, and build upon their experiences from the experiments. Interactive charts enable them to discover interrelationships in an appealing step-by-step format. The interactive chart on photovoltaics, for example, illustrates how light is converted into electrical energy – a process that the students have already demonstrated themselves in an experiment on solar cells. Other media from the online portal builds on the experiment to draw links with the students' own environment and address socially relevant issues such as renewable energies and environmental protection.
The Experimento educational program aims to influence teaching practice in science and technology using specially developed training seminars, handouts, and experimentation instructions. The objective is to improve teaching and learning methods, and promote the abilities of children and young people.
It is only logical, then, that we evaluate whether Experimento is accomplishing its aims and achieving a demonstrable impact. Since the educational program was implemented in Africa, Latin America and Germany, we have been considering and analyzing the didactic potential of the training seminars and materials. This includes both the way in which the program is implemented in the respective educational environments and the qualitative development of its content. We use a variety of methods to perform the evaluation in collaboration with local institutions on the ground.
The special seminars prepare teachers and “multipliers” to use Experimento in their tuition, support them in carrying out the experiments, and train the multipliers in knowledge transfer based on the program content. Following the training seminars, participants receive a feedback sheet to evaluate what they have learned and the event itself. Siemens Stiftung analyzes the feedback and uses the results to improve the content and organization of the training seminars.
Experimento is used around the globe in a multitude of different “educational markets.” The global acceptance, functionality and practicality of the educational program are decisive for its focused objectives and desired effectiveness. Teachers are at the heart of the research-based evaluation process. This examines relevant criteria such as the didactic potential of the learning materials, the frequency with which the kits are used, quality of implementation, impact on children's skills, and areas where provision could be developed further.
Evaluations have been taking place since 2013 in the countries where Experimento is used. These are carried out by local research institutes and use a variety of methods.
In the future, as part of an accompanying long-term scientific study by the State Institute of School Education and Education Research (ISB), the TUM School of Education and the Leibniz Institute for Science and Mathematics Education (IPN), Experimento is to be continually evaluated in the host countries using a common study design.