• 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?

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.

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?

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. 

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?

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?

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. 

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?

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?

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.

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?

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.

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?

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.

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?

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?

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.

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...

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?

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.“