The international educational program Experimento is currently active in eleven countries in Europe, Latin America, and Africa.
Educational requirements are different in every country and are strongly influenced by cultural factors. This is why local partners such as education ministries and universities are involved in all the countries. The cooperation with local educational partners helps meet the specific teaching and learning requirements of each country.
Education is the foundation of every society. This is a belief shared by politicians, entrepreneurs and renowned educationalists in Chile. Awareness for the strategic importance of science and technology education has increased dramatically in recent years. This has put the country's education system in a state of transformation: more intensive teacher training, more scholarships for teaching students, better curricula, more attractive earnings opportunities, and first and foremost, more science and technology in school education.
Siemens Stiftung is supporting this process and has been involved with Experimento in three regions of Chile since 2011, in the capital Santiago de Chile and its metropolitan region in the center of the country, in Antofagasta in the north and Araucanía in the south. The latter are some of Chile's poorest and least educated areas. The pilot included Experimento I 4+ and a form of Experimento I 8+ adapted to local educational needs. Both modules have now successfully established themselves and are seeing increasing use.
Experimento program is an impact-oriented provision thanks to a strong network of committed partners. The Center for Education Innovation of Fundación Chile (Centro de Innovación en Educación, CIE) is helping to implement Experimento in the Antofagasta region in northern Chile and offering teacher training seminars. The main focus is on the public school sector. German schools in Chile are also integrated into the Experimento program with teacher training seminars.
A strategic cooperation also exists with Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (PUC), a university that is highly respected in Latin America and the rest of the world. This is improving teacher training by combining STEM subjects and interdisciplinary, experiment-oriented teaching methods. It also plans to integrate Experimento into continuing teacher training activities.
With the traditional school network Sociedad de Instrucción Primaria (SIP), Experimento I 4+ has been piloted in a network of 17 schools in Santiago de Chile and surrounding area and is now being successfully used by 15 schools.
The aim is to integrate Experimento I 4+, Experimento I 8+ and Experimento I 10 + into the country's entire educational chain and also to accelerate collaboration in the form of public-private partnerships (PPP): In “STEM regions,” the quality of educational provision is to be improved across the board. Two STEM regions are currently being planned: one in the Antofagasta region in northern Chile and one in the Araucanía region in the south of the country.
The Center for Education Innovation of “Fundación Chile”, a partner of Siemens Stiftung, examined the process of adapting and integrating the pilot project “Ciencia Más” (originally Experimento I 8+) from May to November 2013. Using qualitative and quantitative methods, the Center interviewed some 70 teachers at ten schools in Antofagasta Province and accompanied their lessons. The evaluation took place at two points in time, comparing the initial situation at the start of the project (first diagnosis in May) with the final diagnosis in November of the same school year. The following aspects were assessed at both stages: teachers' expectations, observations from practical implementation in the classroom, coverage of the curriculum and satisfaction level of the teaching staff.
Teachers are generally happy with the program and recognize its value and the benefits it brings. They see it as enrichment to their teaching. It is notable that a significant improvement took place in almost all aspects of teaching. The results show that group work takes place more frequently in classrooms, which can also be interpreted as progress in the development of students' behavioral skills. Activities that are closely related to the scientific method, are being developed here: carrying out experiments and embedding the concepts associated with them, developing students' metacognitive abilities and reviewing what they have learned. Teachers are even seeing an improvement in students' thinking skills thanks to the new pedagogical focus. However, the results also point to where changes are needed. For example: adaptation of material to Chilean teaching and more differentiation by class level.