Siemens Stiftung is introducing “STEM and creativity” into its international education program by integrating design thinking as a new teaching method in STEM lessons. Addressing challenges inherent in globalization, digitalization, or climate change requires high-quality STEM education. Additionally, skills such as creative problem solving, the ability to innovate, and critical thinking – known as “21st century skills” – are increasingly important for openly embracing change and responsibly shaping the future. With the “Design Thinking in STEM” project, Siemens Stiftung combines STEM education with creative processes to encourage innovative thinking among young people.
Pilot workshop in South Africa with INDEX: Design to Improve Life®
Siemens Stiftung is collaborating with INDEX: Design to Improve Life® to launch and implement design thinking as an innovative teaching and learning method in STEM subjects. With years of experience working in schools, the Danish nonprofit has developed functional, step-by-step tools and techniques that take teachers through the various phases of design thinking, providing pedagogic and didactic reinforcement for the entire process.
In the classroom, these methods show students how to address challenges with empathy and by shifting their own perspective to explore an alternative point of view. Early on in the process, ideas and approaches are turned into tangible prototypes to be tested and evaluated. Teamwork and transcending the boundaries of traditional classroom subjects are important aspects of this process.
The initial workshop in Cape Town brings together teachers from Siemens Stiftung’s STEM Network and introduces them to the basic principles of design thinking. The group will then co-create ways in which design thinking can be applied to STEM lessons.
Concrete challenges bring “Design Thinking in STEM” to life
In addition to bringing a creative approach to STEM subjects, “Design Thinking in STEM” introduces the UN Sustainable Development Goals to the classroom. The 17 goals established by the United Nations for sustainable development provide a thematic structure for classroom lessons. They include the economic, social, and environmental challenges of the 21st century, which are growing in their local impact alongside their global relevance. This approach breaks down complex STEM subjects and applies them to specific local challenges, such as clean drinking water or sustainable power generation, with the aim of pursuing concrete solutions.
INDEX: Design to Improve Life® is a Danish nonprofit organization, founded in 2001, with a focus on design for good — what we call ‘Design to Improve Life’. We believe design is no longer just about fashion or furniture but, is a powerful tool that can help solve real-world challenges and secure a more sustainable future. Our education programs teach people how to address critical problems in our society, like food waste or climate change, using design-based knowledge and methods. Using our innovative and certified ‘Design to Improve Life’ framework, we aim to foster the current and next generation of change-makers.
Siemens Stiftung – As a nonprofit corporate foundation, Siemens Stiftung promotes sustainable social development, which is crucially dependent on access to basic services, high-quality education, and an understanding of culture. In the Education working area, Siemens Stiftung pursues modern science and technology education that strengthens the knowledge and abilities of school children. Together with our partners, we develop materials and methods for teaching and learning that are creative, discovery-based, hands-on, and value-building. Our efforts are focused on the challenges of a changing, globalized, and technical world to provide young people with a future full of opportunity.