STEM Make@thon: A creative problem-solving challenge

Concentrated innovative spirit: The top teams of the Make@thon “Future of Food” onstage with representatives of Osnabrück University, Siemens Stiftung, Siemens Professional Education and the YouTuber and STEMfluencer Jacob Beautemps.
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Focusing on the Sustainable Development Goals: At the STEM Make@thons, students work independently in small groups to find creative and scientific solutions.
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For one week, the participants work in small teams to find joint solutions to the respective topics.
In the innovative premises of STEAM Hub Siemensstadt Square, participants have access to 3D printers and experimentation sets, among other things, to make prototypes of their products and solutions.
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The idea finding process is all about having fun with science.
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How do I convince others of my idea? The teams prepare a presentation on their concept, which they then share in plenary.
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That's another way to do it: If someone can't be on site, they can showcase the project digitally via stream.
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Creativity on all levels: Video presentations bring the concepts to life.
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The winners of the Make@thon “Future of Food”: Team Mensahelden developed the idea of a "Mensascanner" (engl. “cafeteria scanner”) that playfully helps primary school pupils learn about health and sustainable nutrition.
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The winners of the Make@thon "Mobility of Tomorrow": Team K.E.R.S wants to use technology from motorsport to make cycling more attractive – through mechanical elements that use the energy of the braking process to accelerate.
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At the Make@thon "Sustainable Textiles", the Maker Award for the most outstanding idea went to Team Nevermind: they developed a low-cost recycling machine to extract polyethylene filaments out of plastic waste.
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How can we reduce plastic waste, change the diet of the future or improve mobility? To address these and many other pressing questions, students in grades 9 to 13 participate in an exciting and innovative format in STEM Make@thon. Highly enthusiastic students got together in teams to work on solutions. The outcomes: Development of an app, the construction of a sensor or the founding of a small start-up. The students demonstrated a vast amount of creative thinking and problem-solving skills by learning and designing together.

During the kick-off event, the participating students will learn about the task. They enter into an exchange with various stakeholders in Siemensstadt Square and join several inspiring workshops, lectures, experiments and other exciting formats such as escape rooms and experimental settings to stimulate their solution ideas. Afterwards, the teams develop their own proposed solutions under the guidance of the University of Osnabrück. The “Problem Solving Challenge” is rounded off by a final event where the best ideas are acknowledged and rewarded.


Following the Make@thons “Future of Food” and “Mobility of Tomorrow” in May and September 2022, the Make@thon “Sustainable Textiles” took place in June 2023. The Challenge “Energizing the Future” took place in November.

STEM Make@thon "Energizing the Future"

How can we generate and store electricity in an environmentally friendly way? Which energy sources will shape the future and how do we manage the energy revolution?

Innovative ideas for a sustainable energy sector were on the agenda at the Make@thon “Energizing the Future” from November 7–17, 2023, in Berlin. The participants displayed a variety of ideas and explored, for example, how energy can be generated through windows, floors or sound. YouTuber Jacob Beautemps (Breaking Lab) was also there and gave a presentation.

  • Science Award: Team 9G-dankenkontrolle with their ‘Comparative study on the efficiency of propellers’Using 3D-printed models, the 9G-dankenkontrolle team compared the influence and efficiency of various types of propellers for their use in electricity production. Using research-based approaches and numerous calculations, the team was able to make suggestions for changes in specific areas to maximize the use of given resources.
  • Realization Award:Team neverMINT with the project ‘Optical and smart electricity meter reading, SmartHome and neverEnergy’To save energy costs in private households, the neverMINT team developed an interface for the optical reading of electricity meters using a cell phone, including a savings system to make this data usable, as well as an Arduino smart home complex to demonstrate a potential implementation. The concept also includes a nonprofit organization to support society with the costs saved.
  • Innovation Award: Team Haferkekse with ‘Powersound’

    The aim of Team Haferkekse was to make the piezoelectric effects usable in busy places. They developed an independent model that uses energy from sound waves and pressure to activate a light-emitting diode to make the case for using the effect as a sustainable form of energy production.

STEM Make@thon "Sustainable Textiles"

How can textiles become more ecological and how can we produce them more fairly? How can we use clothes longer? At the Make@thon “Sustainable Textiles” from June 12–21, 2023, everything revolved around the question of how young people would like to design the textiles of the future. The inventors’ creativity was enormous: from a sustainability score to an “all-in-one coat/jacket” to a low-cost recycling machine, there was a wide range of ideas on display. Five teams were honored with prizes in the end.
  • Maker Award: Team Nevermind with the idea of recycling polyethylene in a cotton candy machineBased on some comparable characteristics of sugar and PET, a cotton candy machine was intended to be used for extracting polyethylene filaments out of plastic waste. Thus, with the ‘centrifugal extruder’, the team developed a low-cost recycling machine for use in science-communication contexts and in countries heavily polluted by the waste of the industrialized world.
  • Innovation Award: Team NMS-Maker-Shakers with a scale for buyer-oriented assessment of sustainabilityWith the major goal of transparency, the team established a scale for buyer-oriented assessment of the sustainability of diverse garments across four categories. In addition to ecological criteria, ethical and economic categories also play a role in establishing the label against the background of various sustainable development goals.
  • The Realisation Award was awarded to two teams:Children’s toys made from old clothes’ is the motto of Team HEAL. In this way, textiles such as old T-shirts can be reused entirely and pure of sort. By partially overcoming the plastic waste problem, the team can also use their idea to produce other household items such as coasters.

    The second Realisation Award received Team Wilde Kollegas: Through a deposit system for clothing for special occasions, such as dresses at weddings, they want to contribute their part to a future with less clothing waste. Instead of lying in the closet for years, garments are to be given a new use and conserve resources by being worn several times.
  • Progress Award: Team Jacket with their ‘all-in-one coat/jacket’Is it a vest? Is it a coat? Is it a shirt? – It is everything! With the ‘all-in-one coat/jacket’, the team developed a multifunctional solution for the fashion of the future. Diverse separation options on the arms and on the legs with the simultaneous possibility of changing a soft, warm side and a water-repellent, colder side mean that fewer garments are needed (both from a practical and sustainable point of view).

STEM Make@thon "Mobility of Tomorrow"

The Make@thon “Mobility of Tomorrow” from 22.09 – 01.10.2022 was on the topic “Our mobility is constantly changing but is it moving forward?”.

Despite all the progress made to create a bicycle network in inner cities and the optimization of traffic lights, long traffic jams are still an everyday occurrence, emissions pollute the air we breathe, and cyclists are exposed to dangerous situations on a daily basis. We were impressed by the young people’s ideas on how individual mobility can be better designed, made fairer and more sustainable for everyone. Philip Häusser from Phils Physics joined the event.

  • 1st place: Team K.E.R.S with the K.E.R.S. Bike An idea already known from motor sports is intended to make cycling more attractive to more people: With the “kinetic energy recovery system” (KERS), which is transferred to the bike with mechanical elements, the energy of the braking process can be used for starting at traffic lights or on hills. An e-bike without E – efficient and without power consumption.
  • 2nd place: Team A6 with TECT

    The ninth graders designed a turbine model for ICE trains. The idea is for electrically powered ICEs to generate electricity to recharge their batteries. The turbines are made of aluminum and operate via wind power. An eye-catcher at the awards ceremony: The team visualized the solution in a 3D print.

  • First place 3: Team Nussbeiser with e-vessels

    Nordhorn, a German city with many waterways and with many idle ships. Equipped with e-motors, these ships should act as water buses and generate alternative routes. This could relieve traffic in the city center, in conjunction with an attractive tourist offer. The idea was presented digitally via a live stream – the city is already interested.

  • Second place 3: Team Maximilian Lüthn with Schmaut

    Based on artificial intelligence, a toll system is designed to reduce particulate pollution on inner-city streets in Berlin: It records license plates when cars enter heavily polluted streets and calculates a protective toll – in German “Schutz-Maut”, or “Schmaut” for short. The proceeds go to environmental projects that can improve air quality. A special feature is that the AI measures the time spent on the roads, so that a detour via less polluted roads is also included in the toll.

  • Inspired by the young people’s inventiveness, the jury spontaneously granted two creativity awards:

    Team The LADS with Overengineered Trash: Using an electric trash can that locks when full to attract fewer wild animals to the city and thus reduces wildlife accidents. Desired side effect is to contribute to the e-charging network.

    Team Techies with their “Swing model”: The kinetic energy generated on playgrounds when, for example, swings or merry-go-rounds turn is to be fed into energy for a city’s power grid by means of a mechanical construction. Here, too, it could be used as an e-charging station.

STEM Make@thon "Future of Food"

Who better to develop creative ideas for the future of food than the people who will actually shape them and make them a reality? The STEM-Make@thon “Ernährung der Zukunft” (Future of Food) brought 60 pupils together at Siemensstadt Square to develop specific food-focused ideas capable of satisfying stomachs while also protecting the climate.

At the awards ceremony at STEAM Hub Siemensstadt Square, the top teams presented their inventions to the audience and the jury, made up of representatives of Osnabrück University, Siemens Stiftung, Siemens Professional Education and the YouTuber and STEMfluencer Jacob Beautemps.

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Platz 1: Team „Mensahelden“ mit „Mensascanner“
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Platz 2: Team „Base“ mit „Greenplay“
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Platz 3: Team „D-Squad“ mit „Wormmeal“
  • 1st place: Team “Mensahelden” with their concept, “Mensascanner” Codes on cards with different foods can help primary school pupils to understand the nutrients that foods contain and the benefits different nutrients provide for them and their environment. When used in educational settings, the Mensascanner is an excellent introduction for primary school pupils as they start to learn about food and nutrition. This helps to establish healthy and environmentally sustainable eating habits at a young age.
  • 2nd place: Team “Base” with their concept, “Greenplay”

    Greenplay combined the digital world with education. Users of the app enter information about the daily food they consume to find out the amount of water, land and CO2 equivalents consumed. With the score of their food, users compare each other and compete with each other. Additional points can be collected through “one-week meat-free”. The goal is to encourage people to eat a climate-friendly diet.

  • 3rd place: Team “D-Squad” with their concept, “Wormmeal”

    In Asia, insects are already a widespread and prized source of protein and vitamins. By contrast, in Europe insects are still treated with disgust. Wormmeal has set itself the goal of establishing insect-based foodstuffs in Europe by producing everyday products from mealworms.

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1st place: Team "Mensahelden" with "Mensascanner"
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2nd place: Team "Base" with "Greenplay"
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3rd place: Team "D-Squad" with "Wormmeal"