Service learning combines school-based instruction with social engagement. In the model project, students apply the knowledge and skills they have learned in scientific subjects and make an active contribution to their community.
Students in the fifth grade, for example, explore nutrients and the composition of food in biology lessons and develop an educational game for younger children with tips for healthy eating. They then use this to campaign in local elementary schools for a healthy school breakfast. Practically applying the theory learned in lessons makes the subject easier for students to understand. Social engagement also enables them to help others by applying their knowledge and skills.
By directly focusing on the society-related values of the STEM subjects in a practical manner, students experience the purpose and meaning of natural science and technology to society. During the subsequent period of reflection, students can explore and discuss these experiences. As a result, they can reach conclusions about their own lifestyles and actively expand their set of values.
The model project "Service learning in STEM subjects"
Siemens Stiftung and the Freudenberg Foundation have launched a model project titled “Service Learning in STEM Subjects” that is also being supported by the Education Ministry in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt and the region’s service learning network office, which is run by the Volunteering Agency Halle Saale district e.V.
Service learning is designed to encourage students to assume responsibility, develop a growing consciousness about the environment and consider sustainability, solidarity and social justices in their daily actions. For this purpose the form of instruction and learning known as service learning that has been used for many years – Learning through Civic Engagement of the Freudenberg Foundation – is tried in the STEM subjects. The instructional materials for service learning in the STEM subjects are developed for elementary and secondary schools. The practical examples that were developed will then be integrated into the Experimento international training program and will expand the teaching and learning activities of the Siemens Stiftung.
The model project is receiving professional support from the Julius Maximilians University of Würzburg. The Siemens Stiftung is supporting this study.