• At the "Education in Science, Technology and Innovation for Inclusive Progress" conference in Toluca, Mexico, amongst others a so-called STEAM region was founded in the federal state of Mexico.
    © INNOVEC
Working Area:
Education
Country/Region:
Latin America
Since 2012, Ulrike Wahl has been responsible for educational projects of the Siemens Stiftung in Latin America.

STEAM regions in Latin America

Last year, Siemens Stiftung helped establish six STEAM regions in Latin America. The abbreviation STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics. The goal of the regional clusters is to master 21st-century challenges in education and the working world as well as facilitate sustainable social development. Ulrike Wahl, Siemens Stiftung employee in Latin America, explains why the region is particularly open to innovative educational approaches and what makes the approach in STEAM regions so effective.

Why is STEAM so important in Latin America?

In Latin America as well as in Germany and other countries, the challenge challenge lies in modifying science and technology education to better impart skills necessary for the 21st century such as creativity, value orientation or problem-solving competences  An economic necessity in Latin America, STEAM bridges a gap between the natural sciences and the more creative and humanities subjects. In times of rapid technological development, science and technology education is a key factor for creating jobs and ensuring prosperity. For this reason, countries are prioritizing STEAM education more and more. Programs for sustainable social development regularly feature STEAM education as a key component.

What distinguishes a STEAM region?

A STEAM region brings together a group of educational stakeholders to coordinate STEAM activities. The group systematically embraces both interdisciplinary and cross-sector approaches to meet the challenge. This includes the creation of structures, the elaboration of a plan of action, on-going transfers of knowledge as well as coordinated and transparent cooperation. To this end, each region requires, among other things, the support of the government, a sustainable financial plan as well as open and transparent communications.

There is no default model for such an alliance. Each region has its own very specific economic, geographical and social requirements, which in turn shape the respective STEAM regions.

Siemens Stiftung has experience with STEAM regions in Germany. Why has the foundation decided to transfer the concept to Latin America?


The idea of a “STEAM Territorio,” as it’s called in Spanish, is based on the cooperation model of the German “MINT-Regionen” – regional alliances for MINT (STEAM) education in Germany that are shaped heavily by the Körber Foundation and supported by the Nationales MINT Forum (National STEM Forum, Germany). In Germany we were able to ascertain the enormous effect that can result from stakeholders setting mutual goals for a better education and then transparently sharing their experiences with each other.

With its international education program Experimento, which is geared toward the skills of the 21st century, Siemens Stiftung has been active in the STEAM field in Latin America for many years. We’re now working with more than 25 cooperation partners, which includes universities, educational institutions and NGOs. A good prerequisite, in other words, for us to transfer this idea to our regional networks and systematically bring them together.

How would you describe the current state of development of the STEAM regions and what must still be achieved?

In Latin America there are currently six STEAM regions, which, depending on regional distinctions, are also called either STEM or STEM+H regions. Medellín, Colombia; Tacna and Miraflores/Lima, Peru; Macrozona Sur Chile, Valparaiso, Chile; and the State of Mexico, Mexico. In each of these, different institutions have assumed the coordination role: a university, a state education authority, a regional government and a municipality. People are currently sharing their experiences in these regions, and concrete measures are now being drafted.

Overall, the objective is for these regional alliances to have a greater influence on the respective education agendas by carrying more weight as well as having a voice, in addition to being able to coordinate their projects more effectively.

What role will Siemens Stiftung play in these regional alliances in the future?

Siemens Stiftung stands for content-driven, nonpartisan, transparent and pluralistic cooperation. We will remain members in all STEAM regions and have motivated people to form working groups on specific topics within and between the STEAM regions.

An important topic we wish to dedicate ourselves to in the future is, for example, making the topic of climate change a core component of continuing education programs for teachers. Siemens Stiftung has been a partner of the Office for Climate Education (OCE) since it was founded on the initiative of the Foundation La main à la pâte after the Climate Change Conference in Paris in 2018. The Office of Climate Education’s regional conference will take place in Santiago de Chile in May 2019.

We continue to see our role in being active bridge-builders, providing impulses and being a good partner in exchanging content, contacts and experiences. Only in this way can we play an effective role in anchoring the significance of STEAM at the heart of the social development process.

“In times of rapid technological development, science and technology education is a key factor for creating jobs and ensuring prosperity.”



STEM education for refugees – Interview with Yvonne Matzick
  • The young refugees learn to distinguish bacteria in a school lab. Many of them wish to receive a scientific or technical education.
    © Siemens Stiftung, Photographer: Sebastian Isacu
  • Highly modern equipment: The school lab at the Europaschule Utbremen (European School in Utbremen) offers the best learning conditions.
    © Siemens Stiftung, Photographer: Sebastian Isacu
  • A trained biologist helps students with practical tips.
    © Siemens Stiftung, Photographer: Sebastian Isacu
  • They arrived without knowledge of the language. Now the students jot down the results of the microbiological rapid tests in German.
    © Siemens Stiftung, Photographer: Sebastian Isacu
  • Experiments require concentration. Those who don’t understand something follow up in German.
    © Siemens Stiftung, Photographer: Sebastian Isacu
  • Why does the diagnostic dipstick turn yellow? Teacher Yvonne Matzick explains the aminopeptidase test.
    © Siemens Stiftung, Photographer: Sebastian Isacu
  • Successful as a team: School principal Tobias Weigelt and his colleagues developed the educational programs for refugees at their school together.
    © Siemens Stiftung, Photographer: Sebastian Isacu
Working Area:
Education
Country/Region:
Germany
The biology teacher Yvonne Matzick has developed a close bond with her refugee students.

STEM education for refugees: Experimentation leads to understanding

At the Schulzentrum Utbremen (Utbremen School Center), two occupational orientation classes in natural sciences and technology are preparing young refugees for jobs in the fields of science and technology. Teacher Yvonne Matzick is really excited about her students`motivation.

Your students come from Syria, Afghanistan and African countries, speak a number of languages and have broadly different educational levels – how can you successfully teach natural sciences under these conditions?

YVONNE MATZICK: We teach on various levels and let the students work in a manner that reflects their different performance levels. We also put together working groups in a way that enables the better and slower students to profit from one another. These are given more time to develop a vocabulary that will enable them to understand the material being taught. The lessons become good when the students work with one another.

Why did these young people join the new two-year educational programs “Natural Sciences” and “Data Processing” – was it rather by chance or a real interest in STEM education?

Some of them are really interested in natural sciences and want to become things like pharmaceutical-technical assistants. Others are here because they heard that this is a good school. Our courses include a lot of practical and technical activity. Young men, in particular, really enjoy it. During experimentation, they also learn the theories behind it and gain a much better understanding of why they do something.

Some of the young refugees have had traumatic experiences and are alone in Germany, without their families. Are you able to get them interested in the natural sciences despite their difficult personal situations?

The students really enjoy working a lot with natural sciences because they can forget about the traumatic experiences in their lives while they are experimenting. Most of them are really focused on the future and want to draw a line between the school and their past. We provide the students with the opportunity to talk about their concerns. But this is just an opportunity.

What are the goals of the new educational programs “Natural Sciences” and “Data Processing”?

Both programs fit our school’s profile. Our self-developed curriculum serves as a basis for young people who need strong subject-matter input and others who have more of a practical bent. Our goal is to offer fundamental language and occupation-oriented basic education in natural science subjects. The students should also learn to work on a task in a team.

What is taught in the science courses?

In the first year, the students study only German, math, English and physical education. In the second year, we begin to introduce them to lab work. In the beginning, we had to use a type of sign language. Or I simply drew objects on the chalkboard. The first course unit focuses on human beings – diet, health, the senses. We then delve into microbiology. The focus here is on hygiene and disease.
  
What teaching methods and materials do you use?

I use a hypothesis-based approach to teaching. This means that I ask a question in the beginning so that the students will better understand the interrelationships. Here’s an example: Theo is sick. What does the doctor have to know to help him? I always have the students work in groups. They have to read something, discuss it and coordinate their activities with one another. We use the funds provided by Siemens Stiftung to buy some of the instruction materials. I also like to use the materials of the Siemens Stiftung Media Portal because they are available as Word documents and I can use them really well after making just a few minor language changes.

Siemens Stiftung is increasingly working to link STEM education and values. Is this aim also reflected in your courses?

Young people are really interested in learning about values like environmental protection. Things like waste separation and recycling – these concepts are alien to people in their home countries. In their dealings with one another, the young people have gotten along well and shown respect for one another from the very beginning. I didn’t have to teach it at all.

Do you think that science and technology education can facilitate the integration of the young refugees?

Because the world is so strongly shaped by STEM, basic knowledge of these subjects will help the young people participate in social engagement. For instance, they can enter technical apprenticeship occupations. Nonetheless, the students still have a long way to go before they can settle in and feel at home.

Let’s look into the future for a moment: What is in the works for your project?


For the next school year, we will once again have an introductory class and two occupational orientation classes. Bremen has also developed a program called „Bremer Integrationsqualifizierung“ (Bremen Integration Qualification). We will have one of these BIQ classes.

And your students – are they already making concrete plans?

All of them are highly motivated and really want to earn their diploma. Some of them also have already lined up apprenticeships. And some of them want to return home one day and help rebuild their country. They tell themselves: If I can become something like an electrician, I can do something meaningful.

While experimenting the students can forget about their trauma. Most of them are really focused on the future and want to draw a line between the school and their past.”

  • The young refugees learn to distinguish bacteria in a school lab. Many of them wish to receive a scientific or technical education.
    © Siemens Stiftung, Photographer: Sebastian Isacu
  • Highly modern equipment: The school lab at the Europaschule Utbremen (European School in Utbremen) offers the best learning conditions.
    © Siemens Stiftung, Photographer: Sebastian Isacu
  • A trained biologist helps students with practical tips.
    © Siemens Stiftung, Photographer: Sebastian Isacu
  • They arrived without knowledge of the language. Now the students jot down the results of the microbiological rapid tests in German.
    © Siemens Stiftung, Photographer: Sebastian Isacu
  • Experiments require concentration. Those who don’t understand something follow up in German.
    © Siemens Stiftung, Photographer: Sebastian Isacu
  • Why does the diagnostic dipstick turn yellow? Teacher Yvonne Matzick explains the aminopeptidase test.
    © Siemens Stiftung, Photographer: Sebastian Isacu
  • Successful as a team: School principal Tobias Weigelt and his colleagues developed the educational programs for refugees at their school together.
    © Siemens Stiftung, Photographer: Sebastian Isacu
Working Area:
Education
Country/Region:
Germany
The biology teacher Yvonne Matzick has developed a close bond with her refugee students.

STEM education for refugees: Experimentation leads to understanding

At the Schulzentrum Utbremen (Utbremen School Center), two occupational orientation classes in natural sciences and technology are preparing young refugees for jobs in the fields of science and technology. Teacher Yvonne Matzick is really excited about her students`motivation.

Your students come from Syria, Afghanistan and African countries, speak a number of languages and have broadly different educational levels – how can you successfully teach natural sciences under these conditions?

YVONNE MATZICK: We teach on various levels and let the students work in a manner that reflects their different performance levels. We also put together working groups in a way that enables the better and slower students to profit from one another. These are given more time to develop a vocabulary that will enable them to understand the material being taught. The lessons become good when the students work with one another.

Why did these young people join the new two-year educational programs “Natural Sciences” and “Data Processing” – was it rather by chance or a real interest in STEM education?

Some of them are really interested in natural sciences and want to become things like pharmaceutical-technical assistants. Others are here because they heard that this is a good school. Our courses include a lot of practical and technical activity. Young men, in particular, really enjoy it. During experimentation, they also learn the theories behind it and gain a much better understanding of why they do something.

Some of the young refugees have had traumatic experiences and are alone in Germany, without their families. Are you able to get them interested in the natural sciences despite their difficult personal situations?

The students really enjoy working a lot with natural sciences because they can forget about the traumatic experiences in their lives while they are experimenting. Most of them are really focused on the future and want to draw a line between the school and their past. We provide the students with the opportunity to talk about their concerns. But this is just an opportunity.

What are the goals of the new educational programs “Natural Sciences” and “Data Processing”?

Both programs fit our school’s profile. Our self-developed curriculum serves as a basis for young people who need strong subject-matter input and others who have more of a practical bent. Our goal is to offer fundamental language and occupation-oriented basic education in natural science subjects. The students should also learn to work on a task in a team.

What is taught in the science courses?

In the first year, the students study only German, math, English and physical education. In the second year, we begin to introduce them to lab work. In the beginning, we had to use a type of sign language. Or I simply drew objects on the chalkboard. The first course unit focuses on human beings – diet, health, the senses. We then delve into microbiology. The focus here is on hygiene and disease.
  
What teaching methods and materials do you use?

I use a hypothesis-based approach to teaching. This means that I ask a question in the beginning so that the students will better understand the interrelationships. Here’s an example: Theo is sick. What does the doctor have to know to help him? I always have the students work in groups. They have to read something, discuss it and coordinate their activities with one another. We use the funds provided by Siemens Stiftung to buy some of the instruction materials. I also like to use the materials of the Siemens Stiftung Media Portal because they are available as Word documents and I can use them really well after making just a few minor language changes.

Siemens Stiftung is increasingly working to link STEM education and values. Is this aim also reflected in your courses?

Young people are really interested in learning about values like environmental protection. Things like waste separation and recycling – these concepts are alien to people in their home countries. In their dealings with one another, the young people have gotten along well and shown respect for one another from the very beginning. I didn’t have to teach it at all.

Do you think that science and technology education can facilitate the integration of the young refugees?

Because the world is so strongly shaped by STEM, basic knowledge of these subjects will help the young people participate in social engagement. For instance, they can enter technical apprenticeship occupations. Nonetheless, the students still have a long way to go before they can settle in and feel at home.

Let’s look into the future for a moment: What is in the works for your project?


For the next school year, we will once again have an introductory class and two occupational orientation classes. Bremen has also developed a program called „Bremer Integrationsqualifizierung“ (Bremen Integration Qualification). We will have one of these BIQ classes.

And your students – are they already making concrete plans?

All of them are highly motivated and really want to earn their diploma. Some of them also have already lined up apprenticeships. And some of them want to return home one day and help rebuild their country. They tell themselves: If I can become something like an electrician, I can do something meaningful.

While experimenting the students can forget about their trauma. Most of them are really focused on the future and want to draw a line between the school and their past.”

MINTegration – Interview with Jörg Haas
  • The tutors collaborate on ways they can help the primary school children.
    © Siemens Stiftung, Photographer: Sebastian Isacu
  • In good hands: Primary school pupil Victoria with her tutors.
    © Siemens Stiftung, Photographer: Sebastian Isacu
  • The tutors are ready to help when it is time to fill out the worksheets.
    © Siemens Stiftung, Photographer: Sebastian Isacu
  • Listen up: In "directional hearing," Victoria learns that our brains can filter certain sounds.
    © Siemens Stiftung, Photographer: Sebastian Isacu
  • "The children had a lot of fun," says teacher Jörg Haas.
    © Siemens Stiftung, Photographer: Sebastian Isacu
  • Color vision: The world looks a lot different through tinted glasses.
    © Siemens Stiftung, Photographer: Sebastian Isacu
Working Area:
Education
Country/Region:
Germany
The creator of "MINTegration:" Teacher Jörg Haas

MINTegration – a STEM education project for transition classes

Starting a conversation while conducting an experiment: That is the goal of MINTegration, a science education workshop series for refugee children at Jakob Fugger Gymnasium in Augsburg, Germany. “MINT” means STEM education and refers to the subjects of math, information technology, natural sciences, and technology. Physics and mathematics teacher Jörg Haas broke new ground with his project, which can be used in all subjects at all school levels.

A MINT education project for refugee children - how did you come up with that idea?

JÖRG HAAS: Siemens Stiftung offered MINT-EC schools (German Association of Math and Science School Excellence Network) with help in integrating refugee children. At primary schools in Bavaria, these children receive intense German lessons in transition classes, but the sciences were hardly being taught at all. I just wanted to give the children the chance to explore science.

What role can science and technology education play in integrating refugees?

HAAS: Our project’s goal is to use encounters with scientific phenomena to reinforce language learning. Beyond that, we wanted to introduce the refugee children to Jakob Fugger Gymnasium in Augsburg, an example of a secondary school where they can pursue their A-levels. Most of our tutors have immigration backgrounds of their own – for the primary school kids they were great role models of successful integration.

What were the workshops like?

HAAS: The workshops were spread over four afternoons per transition class. First, we met in the cafeteria to have lunch together. Then we always started things off with a game – there were plenty of laughs right from the beginning. After that, it was time to experiment. At the end, the tutors helped the children record the results on worksheets.

What experiments did the children conduct?

HAAS: We did experiments on the topics of the human body and senses, circuits and energy, and water and filtration. Those included things like the lemon battery, directional hearing, conductors and non-conductors, or filtering water. For the most part, the experiments came from Siemens Stiftung Experimento kits.

What kind of "language-sensitive" teaching materials were used?

HAAS: For each experiment, we had a vocabulary sheet with photos and the corresponding technical terms in German. On each sheet the singular and plural forms of the words are listed, in addition to each word’s article, meaning the children could learn it all in one go. They were also tasked with writing a sentence using each word.

Was the project well-received by the students?

HAAS: A lot of the primary school children had never come into contact with the experimental approach to science. They were surprised to see that a lemon could be used to light a lamp. The kids really liked that.

So you were able to awaken the children’s interest in science!

HAAS: Definitely, we uncovered the joy of experimentation. We saw that the children were having fun and enjoyed coming back.

What have been some of your personal takeaways from the project?

HAAS: There were around ten different languages represented in the project, some of which I didn't know. Teaching "language-sensitive" lessons was also new to me. My personal highlight was seeing the tutors show such empathy when working with the children. They laughed together during the experiments and had a lot of fun. That was really touching.

Are you planning to take the project further?

HAAS: In the second half of the year, we want to offer another series of workshops. Starting in September, a seminar is planned at the department of physics education at Universität Augsburg that sees the students take on the role of the teacher. The method is called "learning by teaching."

Would you share your concept with anyone who was interested?

HAAS: Of course! We are happy to share our concept with other schools. Editable versions of the materials are available that can be easily adapted. Anyone could get started right away!

“The children had a lot of fun.”

  • The tutors collaborate on ways they can help the primary school children.
    © Siemens Stiftung, Photographer: Sebastian Isacu
  • In good hands: Primary school pupil Victoria with her tutors.
    © Siemens Stiftung, Photographer: Sebastian Isacu
  • The tutors are ready to help when it is time to fill out the worksheets.
    © Siemens Stiftung, Photographer: Sebastian Isacu
  • Listen up: In "directional hearing," Victoria learns that our brains can filter certain sounds.
    © Siemens Stiftung, Photographer: Sebastian Isacu
  • "The children had a lot of fun," says teacher Jörg Haas.
    © Siemens Stiftung, Photographer: Sebastian Isacu
  • Color vision: The world looks a lot different through tinted glasses.
    © Siemens Stiftung, Photographer: Sebastian Isacu
Working Area:
Education
Country/Region:
Germany
The creator of "MINTegration:" Teacher Jörg Haas

MINTegration – a STEM education project for transition classes

Starting a conversation while conducting an experiment: That is the goal of MINTegration, a science education workshop series for refugee children at Jakob Fugger Gymnasium in Augsburg, Germany. “MINT” means STEM education and refers to the subjects of math, information technology, natural sciences, and technology. Physics and mathematics teacher Jörg Haas broke new ground with his project, which can be used in all subjects at all school levels.

A MINT education project for refugee children - how did you come up with that idea?

JÖRG HAAS: Siemens Stiftung offered MINT-EC schools (German Association of Math and Science School Excellence Network) with help in integrating refugee children. At primary schools in Bavaria, these children receive intense German lessons in transition classes, but the sciences were hardly being taught at all. I just wanted to give the children the chance to explore science.

What role can science and technology education play in integrating refugees?

HAAS: Our project’s goal is to use encounters with scientific phenomena to reinforce language learning. Beyond that, we wanted to introduce the refugee children to Jakob Fugger Gymnasium in Augsburg, an example of a secondary school where they can pursue their A-levels. Most of our tutors have immigration backgrounds of their own – for the primary school kids they were great role models of successful integration.

What were the workshops like?

HAAS: The workshops were spread over four afternoons per transition class. First, we met in the cafeteria to have lunch together. Then we always started things off with a game – there were plenty of laughs right from the beginning. After that, it was time to experiment. At the end, the tutors helped the children record the results on worksheets.

What experiments did the children conduct?

HAAS: We did experiments on the topics of the human body and senses, circuits and energy, and water and filtration. Those included things like the lemon battery, directional hearing, conductors and non-conductors, or filtering water. For the most part, the experiments came from Siemens Stiftung Experimento kits.

What kind of "language-sensitive" teaching materials were used?

HAAS: For each experiment, we had a vocabulary sheet with photos and the corresponding technical terms in German. On each sheet the singular and plural forms of the words are listed, in addition to each word’s article, meaning the children could learn it all in one go. They were also tasked with writing a sentence using each word.

Was the project well-received by the students?

HAAS: A lot of the primary school children had never come into contact with the experimental approach to science. They were surprised to see that a lemon could be used to light a lamp. The kids really liked that.

So you were able to awaken the children’s interest in science!

HAAS: Definitely, we uncovered the joy of experimentation. We saw that the children were having fun and enjoyed coming back.

What have been some of your personal takeaways from the project?

HAAS: There were around ten different languages represented in the project, some of which I didn't know. Teaching "language-sensitive" lessons was also new to me. My personal highlight was seeing the tutors show such empathy when working with the children. They laughed together during the experiments and had a lot of fun. That was really touching.

Are you planning to take the project further?

HAAS: In the second half of the year, we want to offer another series of workshops. Starting in September, a seminar is planned at the department of physics education at Universität Augsburg that sees the students take on the role of the teacher. The method is called "learning by teaching."

Would you share your concept with anyone who was interested?

HAAS: Of course! We are happy to share our concept with other schools. Editable versions of the materials are available that can be easily adapted. Anyone could get started right away!

“The children had a lot of fun.”

MINTogether – Interview with Paul Feltes and Marc Büssing
  • Girls in particular feel a real connection with the “MINTogether” project at the Gymnasium Frechen high school.
    © Siemens Stiftung, Photographer: Sebastian Isacu
  • A successful experiment: the youngsters look proud of their solar-powered catamaran in the water.
    © Siemens Stiftung, Photographer: Sebastian Isacu
  • Solar cells and rotors drive the catamaran.
    © Siemens Stiftung, Photographer: Sebastian Isacu
  • Physics teacher Marc Büssing, who is responsible for the project together with Paul Feltes, encourages the young refugees to discover things for themselves.
    © Siemens Stiftung, Photographer: Sebastian Isacu
  • The rocket car is also driven by balloons.
    © Siemens Stiftung, Photographer: Sebastian Isacu
  • Experiments require concentration.
    © Siemens Stiftung, Photographer: Sebastian Isacu
  • The students determine how difficult their projects are themselves. Teacher Marc Büssing provides ideas.
    © Siemens Stiftung, Photographer: Sebastian Isacu
  • The screwing, hammering and drilling allow the participants to contribute to the “MINTogether” project without having to use too many words.
    © Siemens Stiftung, Photographer: Sebastian Isacu
  • Experiments for advanced participants: the technical projects are all self-determining and can be extended at will.
    © Siemens Stiftung, Photographer: Sebastian Isacu
  • Precision is key when turning design sketches into a physical reality.
    © Siemens Stiftung, Photographer: Sebastian Isacu
  • Physics teacher Paul Feltes wants to provide the young refugees with technical knowledge relevant for future careers.
    © Siemens Stiftung, Photographer: Sebastian Isacu
  • Attention to detail: the refugee students are given plenty of freedom to design creative models.
    © Siemens Stiftung, Photographer: Sebastian Isacu
Working Area:
Education
Country/Region:
Germany
Providing refugees with a sense of achievement: Paul Feltes, Physics teacher from the Gymnasium Frechen.

Boosting self-confidence – creating prospects

Physics teachers Paul Feltes and Marc Büssing from the Gymnasium Frechen high school waged an experiment themselves when they set up the “MINTogether” project (“MINT” is German for “STEM”) for young refugees. Once a week, they investigate the world of science and technology together with them. As part of the voluntary classes, the youngsters screw together assembly kits for solar-powered cars and wind turbines, thus providing them valuable technical knowledge for future careers in a playful manner. The joint experiments and building activities help to remove prejudices and break down language barriers.

You are promoting youngsters, who hardly speak any German, with a technology project of all things. How did you come up with that idea?

Marc Büssing: During regular classes, these young refugees often have serious difficulties. Many of them get frustrated and depressed because they can’t fully grasp the content. So we thought: they desperately need to feel a sense of achievement. That was how it all started. Experimenting brings students closer together. Language plays much less of a role. We even manage the whole thing without using many words.

Paul Feltes: After the summer break in 2015, a tent camp was suddenly located in our gym. Every day we would meet new people in the schoolyard who were refugees. It actually really affected me. So we thought: what can we do for these children? Then Siemens Stiftung submitted the proposal regarding the promotion of STEM projects. Everything moved very quickly from then on. With regard to the language barrier, none of the children spoke German to begin with. So, first of all we drew pictures of the tools and wrote what they were called underneath. Since then, we have started to understand each other very well.

Who comes to your classes then?

Paul Feltes: We always have between 10 to 15 young refugees aged between 12 and 16 with a wide variety of nationalities. We also have three or four German students who come to help out. They take turns though, to make sure they don't miss too many of their regular classes.

Marc Büssing: We also see the project as a kind of scholarship for outstanding pupils, which is why the more talented German students take part.

And how do the classes actually work from a practical perspective?

Paul Feltes: The youngsters might make a solar-powered boat, for example, using assembly kits. Images and design sketches serve as a kind of orientation throughout the project. The technical requirements can be configured and increased differently as needed. Some students just want to build a wooden car driven by balloons, whereas others want to equip their model car with a solar cell and a rotor. All of the classes can be taken at different levels of technical difficulty, which has an excellent transfer effect. 

Marc Büssing: Many of the projects are self-determining. Anyone who picks up two solar cells at the beginning, for example, must find out for themself how to wire them up. 

So is your teaching method discovery-based learning?

Marc Büssing: Exactly! We encourage a very hands-on approach. Above all else, the class has to be exciting. It is important for the students to identify with what they are learning and making, so we allow them a lot of freedom to design creative models. The products that the students make should be what motivates them. 

What would you like to achieve with the project?

Paul Feltes: Above all else, we want to provide the young refugees with a sense of achievement and boost their self-confidence. We want to help them to develop their language skills, provide them with some career guidance and assist in removing any prejudices – all of that will ultimately help refugees to become an integrated member of German society. 

Marc Büssing: The promotion of STEM subjects amongst girls is also an important aspect. They feel a particular connection with our project.

Do the youngsters have any previous knowledge of science and technology?

Marc Büssing: They’re all very different. Some of the children come from academic households, whereas others have little previous education. Some of the students also have excellent technical and mechanical skills.

And what do the children think of the project?

Paul Feltes: Their eyes light up when they study the instructions for the assembly kits. When they have to turn a design sketch into a physical reality with wood, for example, they are really committed to it – it's truly a joy to see. I watch them and really believe that I know how they’re feeling.

Marc Büssing: As teachers, we have felt like the children have really appreciated this right from the beginning, which is incredibly good for the soul. But we have also been seeing the students make progress. Some of them become super involved in the project and positively seem to liven up and are becoming real experts. I’m thinking in particular of one girl who was very introverted in the beginning. She was all alone when she came to us. Now we even see her helping others that are struggling. 

Have you also sometimes found that you have reached certain limits?

Marc Büssing: Yes, we have tried to cover digital topics a few times. We wanted the students to program something with a visual programming language, but it was too abstract for them. Many of the young refugees have obviously not had any experience with devices such as smartphones or computers as a working medium.

Paul Feltes: At the beginning, I wanted to teach the children about parallel and series connection using a chain of lights, but I quickly gave up on that idea (laughs). So we handed them 40 cables and a handful of little lights and said: make them light up. And they did!

Science and technology education clearly has a lot of potential for furthering young refugees. Why is that?

Marc Büssing: Our project is somewhat of a lifeline for the students. In “MINTogether”, the refugee children are often in the majority and suddenly get the chance to shine. They help others to use the drill properly and they hammer and saw away. Here they can suddenly feel like they’re somebody.

Paul Feltes: I see the potential especially in the future. We are providing these youngsters with technical as well as language skills that will be useful for their careers. Further down the line, we would like to place them with regular companies that take on trainees. But we’re not at that stage just yet.

Siemens Stiftung would like to create a stronger connection between STEM education and the promotion of values. Do you also adopt that approach?

Marc Büssing: Regular German students are also involved in our project alongside the young refugees. This is a great asset and a fantastic opportunity to bring both groups together and break down prejudices. These days, when the class is over and the students say goodbye, they hug each other. However, we also try to promote and communicate values to the students through the content of our projects. We have been focusing on renewable energy sources in order to raise the children’s awareness of the importance of using available resources responsibly.

That sounds ambitious. Has the project also helped you personally?

Marc Büssing: The fact that the group is so mixed is a major teaching challenge in itself. We have earned the respect and gratitude of the children in return though. For me personally, it’s great to see how the refugee children and the German students work together without any inhibitions. Hopefully they will take these positive experiences back home with them as well.

Paul Feltes: For us as high school teachers, working with refugee students who don't speak German was a totally new situation. Jumping on board and immediately getting involved has been an exciting challenge. 

The motto “MINTogether” really applies to you both as well then...

Marc Büssing: The project has certainly helped us two as a team. Being able to give the classes together has been a great advantage. We see the fact that the school management fully credits us both with the project as an important sign of appreciation for the work we’ve been doing.

What are your plans for the future?

Paul Feltes: We would really like to continue to run the project using the same, tried-and-tested method. As an extra step, we would also like to involve neighboring schools and local companies. This should help to provide the students with long-term career prospects if their residency status allows.


“Experimenting brings students closer together. We even manage the whole thing without using many words.”

  • Girls in particular feel a real connection with the “MINTogether” project at the Gymnasium Frechen high school.
    © Siemens Stiftung, Photographer: Sebastian Isacu
  • A successful experiment: the youngsters look proud of their solar-powered catamaran in the water.
    © Siemens Stiftung, Photographer: Sebastian Isacu
  • Solar cells and rotors drive the catamaran.
    © Siemens Stiftung, Photographer: Sebastian Isacu
  • Physics teacher Marc Büssing, who is responsible for the project together with Paul Feltes, encourages the young refugees to discover things for themselves.
    © Siemens Stiftung, Photographer: Sebastian Isacu
  • The rocket car is also driven by balloons.
    © Siemens Stiftung, Photographer: Sebastian Isacu
  • Experiments require concentration.
    © Siemens Stiftung, Photographer: Sebastian Isacu
  • The students determine how difficult their projects are themselves. Teacher Marc Büssing provides ideas.
    © Siemens Stiftung, Photographer: Sebastian Isacu
  • The screwing, hammering and drilling allow the participants to contribute to the “MINTogether” project without having to use too many words.
    © Siemens Stiftung, Photographer: Sebastian Isacu
  • Experiments for advanced participants: the technical projects are all self-determining and can be extended at will.
    © Siemens Stiftung, Photographer: Sebastian Isacu
  • Precision is key when turning design sketches into a physical reality.
    © Siemens Stiftung, Photographer: Sebastian Isacu
  • Physics teacher Paul Feltes wants to provide the young refugees with technical knowledge relevant for future careers.
    © Siemens Stiftung, Photographer: Sebastian Isacu
  • Attention to detail: the refugee students are given plenty of freedom to design creative models.
    © Siemens Stiftung, Photographer: Sebastian Isacu
Working Area:
Education
Country/Region:
Germany
Providing refugees with a sense of achievement: Paul Feltes, Physics teacher from the Gymnasium Frechen.

Boosting self-confidence – creating prospects

Physics teachers Paul Feltes and Marc Büssing from the Gymnasium Frechen high school waged an experiment themselves when they set up the “MINTogether” project (“MINT” is German for “STEM”) for young refugees. Once a week, they investigate the world of science and technology together with them. As part of the voluntary classes, the youngsters screw together assembly kits for solar-powered cars and wind turbines, thus providing them valuable technical knowledge for future careers in a playful manner. The joint experiments and building activities help to remove prejudices and break down language barriers.

You are promoting youngsters, who hardly speak any German, with a technology project of all things. How did you come up with that idea?

Marc Büssing: During regular classes, these young refugees often have serious difficulties. Many of them get frustrated and depressed because they can’t fully grasp the content. So we thought: they desperately need to feel a sense of achievement. That was how it all started. Experimenting brings students closer together. Language plays much less of a role. We even manage the whole thing without using many words.

Paul Feltes: After the summer break in 2015, a tent camp was suddenly located in our gym. Every day we would meet new people in the schoolyard who were refugees. It actually really affected me. So we thought: what can we do for these children? Then Siemens Stiftung submitted the proposal regarding the promotion of STEM projects. Everything moved very quickly from then on. With regard to the language barrier, none of the children spoke German to begin with. So, first of all we drew pictures of the tools and wrote what they were called underneath. Since then, we have started to understand each other very well.

Who comes to your classes then?

Paul Feltes: We always have between 10 to 15 young refugees aged between 12 and 16 with a wide variety of nationalities. We also have three or four German students who come to help out. They take turns though, to make sure they don't miss too many of their regular classes.

Marc Büssing: We also see the project as a kind of scholarship for outstanding pupils, which is why the more talented German students take part.

And how do the classes actually work from a practical perspective?

Paul Feltes: The youngsters might make a solar-powered boat, for example, using assembly kits. Images and design sketches serve as a kind of orientation throughout the project. The technical requirements can be configured and increased differently as needed. Some students just want to build a wooden car driven by balloons, whereas others want to equip their model car with a solar cell and a rotor. All of the classes can be taken at different levels of technical difficulty, which has an excellent transfer effect. 

Marc Büssing: Many of the projects are self-determining. Anyone who picks up two solar cells at the beginning, for example, must find out for themself how to wire them up. 

So is your teaching method discovery-based learning?

Marc Büssing: Exactly! We encourage a very hands-on approach. Above all else, the class has to be exciting. It is important for the students to identify with what they are learning and making, so we allow them a lot of freedom to design creative models. The products that the students make should be what motivates them. 

What would you like to achieve with the project?

Paul Feltes: Above all else, we want to provide the young refugees with a sense of achievement and boost their self-confidence. We want to help them to develop their language skills, provide them with some career guidance and assist in removing any prejudices – all of that will ultimately help refugees to become an integrated member of German society. 

Marc Büssing: The promotion of STEM subjects amongst girls is also an important aspect. They feel a particular connection with our project.

Do the youngsters have any previous knowledge of science and technology?

Marc Büssing: They’re all very different. Some of the children come from academic households, whereas others have little previous education. Some of the students also have excellent technical and mechanical skills.

And what do the children think of the project?

Paul Feltes: Their eyes light up when they study the instructions for the assembly kits. When they have to turn a design sketch into a physical reality with wood, for example, they are really committed to it – it's truly a joy to see. I watch them and really believe that I know how they’re feeling.

Marc Büssing: As teachers, we have felt like the children have really appreciated this right from the beginning, which is incredibly good for the soul. But we have also been seeing the students make progress. Some of them become super involved in the project and positively seem to liven up and are becoming real experts. I’m thinking in particular of one girl who was very introverted in the beginning. She was all alone when she came to us. Now we even see her helping others that are struggling. 

Have you also sometimes found that you have reached certain limits?

Marc Büssing: Yes, we have tried to cover digital topics a few times. We wanted the students to program something with a visual programming language, but it was too abstract for them. Many of the young refugees have obviously not had any experience with devices such as smartphones or computers as a working medium.

Paul Feltes: At the beginning, I wanted to teach the children about parallel and series connection using a chain of lights, but I quickly gave up on that idea (laughs). So we handed them 40 cables and a handful of little lights and said: make them light up. And they did!

Science and technology education clearly has a lot of potential for furthering young refugees. Why is that?

Marc Büssing: Our project is somewhat of a lifeline for the students. In “MINTogether”, the refugee children are often in the majority and suddenly get the chance to shine. They help others to use the drill properly and they hammer and saw away. Here they can suddenly feel like they’re somebody.

Paul Feltes: I see the potential especially in the future. We are providing these youngsters with technical as well as language skills that will be useful for their careers. Further down the line, we would like to place them with regular companies that take on trainees. But we’re not at that stage just yet.

Siemens Stiftung would like to create a stronger connection between STEM education and the promotion of values. Do you also adopt that approach?

Marc Büssing: Regular German students are also involved in our project alongside the young refugees. This is a great asset and a fantastic opportunity to bring both groups together and break down prejudices. These days, when the class is over and the students say goodbye, they hug each other. However, we also try to promote and communicate values to the students through the content of our projects. We have been focusing on renewable energy sources in order to raise the children’s awareness of the importance of using available resources responsibly.

That sounds ambitious. Has the project also helped you personally?

Marc Büssing: The fact that the group is so mixed is a major teaching challenge in itself. We have earned the respect and gratitude of the children in return though. For me personally, it’s great to see how the refugee children and the German students work together without any inhibitions. Hopefully they will take these positive experiences back home with them as well.

Paul Feltes: For us as high school teachers, working with refugee students who don't speak German was a totally new situation. Jumping on board and immediately getting involved has been an exciting challenge. 

The motto “MINTogether” really applies to you both as well then...

Marc Büssing: The project has certainly helped us two as a team. Being able to give the classes together has been a great advantage. We see the fact that the school management fully credits us both with the project as an important sign of appreciation for the work we’ve been doing.

What are your plans for the future?

Paul Feltes: We would really like to continue to run the project using the same, tried-and-tested method. As an extra step, we would also like to involve neighboring schools and local companies. This should help to provide the students with long-term career prospects if their residency status allows.


“Experimenting brings students closer together. We even manage the whole thing without using many words.”

Learning, living and feeling values – Interview with Prof. Dr. Mandl
  • Siemens Stiftung works to impart values in science and technology education.
    © Siemens Stiftung/Freudenberg Stiftung, Photographer: Katrin Heyer
  • Values form the foundation of successful interaction among people with diverse social, religious and cultural backgrounds.
    © Siemens Stiftung/Freudenberg Stiftung, Photographer: Katrin Heyer
  • In addition to the family, schools are responsible for conveying values.
    © Siemens Stiftung/Freudenberg Stiftung, Photographer: Anne Hornemann
  • Students should learn, live and feel values.
    © Siemens Stiftung/Freudenberg Stiftung, Photographer: Anne Hornemann
Working Area:
Education
Country/Region:
Germany
A research focus on values development: Professor Dr. Heinz Mandl

Working with cooperation partners Siemens Stiftung develops materials and methods designed to expose students to values-formulating questions during experiments.

Dr. Heinz Mandl is professor emeritus for Education and Educational Psychology at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich. In his work, he focuses on teaching and learning research in training and continuing education with media, knowledge management, values development and evaluation.

Professor Mandl, why do we need values?

Professor Mandl: Values and values development involve something that is critically important right now. Our society is undergoing far-reaching change, generated in part by digitalization, globalization and migration. As a result of this development, our society is much more diverse and offers many more opportunities than it once did. At the same time, though, these new challenges result in complexity. This, in turn, produces uncertainty and anxiety. Values create standards and criteria that offer orientation here. Values are also essential for our society's future. The learning and spreading of fundamental democratic values – like freedom, equality and solidarity – as a shared values base are the first and foremost component of social cohesion.

In other words, values are essential for both the individual and society as a whole?

Professor Mandl: Yes, values will always differ on an individual and societal level. On an individual level, they primarily have two functions: an intentional role and an evaluative role. The intentional function is that values establish standards that people can largely use as the basis for their behavior. The evaluative function involves criteria that can be used to judge characteristics, attitudes, actions or events. In the context of the societal level, it is the job of values to maintain the structures of a social system because values represent generally accepted standards that form the foundation of society.

What is the best way to teach values without assuming a moralistic, know-it-all tone?

Professor Mandl: You cannot successfully teach values by moralizing or cramming them down people's throats. People should learn and experience values through their own actions. They should also test them out and examine them in various situations. One particularly good way to develop values is when students themselves learn to understand the meaning of values.

At which age is it important to begin teaching values to children?

Professor Mandl: Given the importance of values for the individual and society as a whole, children should be encouraged from the very beginning to develop their own set of values. Even when they are very young, children internalize values and mores that will shape the course of their entire lives. The family plays a particularly important role in the development of values, and parents serve as central role models. Their attitudes and behavior shape the thinking and actions of their children. At the same time, children realize that they are valued and loved by their parents. In this way, they learn to respect and appreciate other people. 

What role does school-based values development play in this context?

Professor Mandl: Values development is a component of the teaching and child-rearing mission of schools. The development of moral judgment and the formation of an individual's own, socially responsible personality are the primary goals. In addition, every teacher embodies – either consciously or subconsciously – certain values. When it comes to such things as fairness in social interaction, openness to individual ideas and skills as well as discipline to encourage learning and academic development, teachers also serve as role models and represent certain values. The "Kinderwertemonitor Studie of 2014 (Children's Values Monitor Study) found that teachers served as key role models for 80 percent of children.

Why should values be taught as part of science and technology education?

Professor Mandl: At a very early, children and young people are being confronted today by scientific and technical issues, some of which are also controversial. For a person to be able to grasp the importance of such topics, you need something more than a simple technical and theoretical study of them. Values underpin science and technology education. They enable individuals to form opinions about questions, make decisions, examine topics from various perspectives and reflect on and evaluate scientific and technological issues. At the same time, science and technology education creates the conditions that promote values development: Joint experimentation helps encourage such characteristics as a sense of responsibility, teamwork, soft skills and the ability to compromise and evaluate.

Which systematic methods support the process of values development during the international educational program Experimento?

Professor Mandl: Specific methodical components are used to didactically support values development. For the practical instruction aspect of Experimento I 8+, idea-suggestion techniques and the use of case studies involving dilemmas have been selected. The idea-suggestion techniques can be nonverbal, through the use of images and gestures, or verbal, through the use of declarations and requests. They are designed to encourage reflection and prompt students to express their own views and create topics for discussion in the process. The use of case studies involving dilemmas helps create awareness for values-related conflicts. Students learn to realize that decisions have certain consequences.

Siemens Stiftung and you jointly identified certain values for Experimento. Why should these values in particular be taught in classrooms?

Professor Mandl: These values reflect the needs of the 21st century, things like climate change and dwindling resources. The value of sustainability, for instance, involves taking economic, environmental and socially responsible developments into consideration for the benefit of all generations. Values like judgment and independence are essential characteristics for people, enabling them to resolutely find their way in a diverse, complex world and confidently make decisions. Values like candor, tolerance and solidarity are fundamental requirements when we talk about heterogeneity and integration.

Can service learning be used to more intensely convey certain values?

Professor Mandl: Values show their true colors in actions – from knowledge to behavior. This process is very intensely encouraged in service learning. This form of instruction combines the learning of a subject with social commitment and the assumption of responsibility in a school environment. The major benefit is that the values are actually experienced through their application and the practical experience that is gained in the process. Experience and reflection are thus the central elements of values development. Service learning can have a positive effect on the development of students' social and personal skills.

Which values do you think are especially important in inclusive instruction?

Professor Mandl: Inclusive instruction involves bringing the principle of respect and recognition to life in instruction. We are talking about values on the individual level, things like candor. This means interest in the new without fear or prejudice. On the social level, we focus on values like team orientation, tolerance and dependability. Tolerance involves respectful interaction among students and the acceptance and recognition of differences.

“Values can be developed well if students learn themselves to understand the meaning of values.“

  • Siemens Stiftung works to impart values in science and technology education.
    © Siemens Stiftung/Freudenberg Stiftung, Photographer: Katrin Heyer
  • Values form the foundation of successful interaction among people with diverse social, religious and cultural backgrounds.
    © Siemens Stiftung/Freudenberg Stiftung, Photographer: Katrin Heyer
  • In addition to the family, schools are responsible for conveying values.
    © Siemens Stiftung/Freudenberg Stiftung, Photographer: Anne Hornemann
  • Students should learn, live and feel values.
    © Siemens Stiftung/Freudenberg Stiftung, Photographer: Anne Hornemann
Working Area:
Education
Country/Region:
Germany
A research focus on values development: Professor Dr. Heinz Mandl

Working with cooperation partners Siemens Stiftung develops materials and methods designed to expose students to values-formulating questions during experiments.

Dr. Heinz Mandl is professor emeritus for Education and Educational Psychology at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich. In his work, he focuses on teaching and learning research in training and continuing education with media, knowledge management, values development and evaluation.

Professor Mandl, why do we need values?

Professor Mandl: Values and values development involve something that is critically important right now. Our society is undergoing far-reaching change, generated in part by digitalization, globalization and migration. As a result of this development, our society is much more diverse and offers many more opportunities than it once did. At the same time, though, these new challenges result in complexity. This, in turn, produces uncertainty and anxiety. Values create standards and criteria that offer orientation here. Values are also essential for our society's future. The learning and spreading of fundamental democratic values – like freedom, equality and solidarity – as a shared values base are the first and foremost component of social cohesion.

In other words, values are essential for both the individual and society as a whole?

Professor Mandl: Yes, values will always differ on an individual and societal level. On an individual level, they primarily have two functions: an intentional role and an evaluative role. The intentional function is that values establish standards that people can largely use as the basis for their behavior. The evaluative function involves criteria that can be used to judge characteristics, attitudes, actions or events. In the context of the societal level, it is the job of values to maintain the structures of a social system because values represent generally accepted standards that form the foundation of society.

What is the best way to teach values without assuming a moralistic, know-it-all tone?

Professor Mandl: You cannot successfully teach values by moralizing or cramming them down people's throats. People should learn and experience values through their own actions. They should also test them out and examine them in various situations. One particularly good way to develop values is when students themselves learn to understand the meaning of values.

At which age is it important to begin teaching values to children?

Professor Mandl: Given the importance of values for the individual and society as a whole, children should be encouraged from the very beginning to develop their own set of values. Even when they are very young, children internalize values and mores that will shape the course of their entire lives. The family plays a particularly important role in the development of values, and parents serve as central role models. Their attitudes and behavior shape the thinking and actions of their children. At the same time, children realize that they are valued and loved by their parents. In this way, they learn to respect and appreciate other people. 

What role does school-based values development play in this context?

Professor Mandl: Values development is a component of the teaching and child-rearing mission of schools. The development of moral judgment and the formation of an individual's own, socially responsible personality are the primary goals. In addition, every teacher embodies – either consciously or subconsciously – certain values. When it comes to such things as fairness in social interaction, openness to individual ideas and skills as well as discipline to encourage learning and academic development, teachers also serve as role models and represent certain values. The "Kinderwertemonitor Studie of 2014 (Children's Values Monitor Study) found that teachers served as key role models for 80 percent of children.

Why should values be taught as part of science and technology education?

Professor Mandl: At a very early, children and young people are being confronted today by scientific and technical issues, some of which are also controversial. For a person to be able to grasp the importance of such topics, you need something more than a simple technical and theoretical study of them. Values underpin science and technology education. They enable individuals to form opinions about questions, make decisions, examine topics from various perspectives and reflect on and evaluate scientific and technological issues. At the same time, science and technology education creates the conditions that promote values development: Joint experimentation helps encourage such characteristics as a sense of responsibility, teamwork, soft skills and the ability to compromise and evaluate.

Which systematic methods support the process of values development during the international educational program Experimento?

Professor Mandl: Specific methodical components are used to didactically support values development. For the practical instruction aspect of Experimento I 8+, idea-suggestion techniques and the use of case studies involving dilemmas have been selected. The idea-suggestion techniques can be nonverbal, through the use of images and gestures, or verbal, through the use of declarations and requests. They are designed to encourage reflection and prompt students to express their own views and create topics for discussion in the process. The use of case studies involving dilemmas helps create awareness for values-related conflicts. Students learn to realize that decisions have certain consequences.

Siemens Stiftung and you jointly identified certain values for Experimento. Why should these values in particular be taught in classrooms?

Professor Mandl: These values reflect the needs of the 21st century, things like climate change and dwindling resources. The value of sustainability, for instance, involves taking economic, environmental and socially responsible developments into consideration for the benefit of all generations. Values like judgment and independence are essential characteristics for people, enabling them to resolutely find their way in a diverse, complex world and confidently make decisions. Values like candor, tolerance and solidarity are fundamental requirements when we talk about heterogeneity and integration.

Can service learning be used to more intensely convey certain values?

Professor Mandl: Values show their true colors in actions – from knowledge to behavior. This process is very intensely encouraged in service learning. This form of instruction combines the learning of a subject with social commitment and the assumption of responsibility in a school environment. The major benefit is that the values are actually experienced through their application and the practical experience that is gained in the process. Experience and reflection are thus the central elements of values development. Service learning can have a positive effect on the development of students' social and personal skills.

Which values do you think are especially important in inclusive instruction?

Professor Mandl: Inclusive instruction involves bringing the principle of respect and recognition to life in instruction. We are talking about values on the individual level, things like candor. This means interest in the new without fear or prejudice. On the social level, we focus on values like team orientation, tolerance and dependability. Tolerance involves respectful interaction among students and the acceptance and recognition of differences.

“Values can be developed well if students learn themselves to understand the meaning of values.“