Siemens Stiftung and University of Oldenburg are teaming together to introduce aspiring primary school teachers to modern teaching methods in science and technology education. The goal is to bring university students pursuing a teaching degree up to speed on the techniques and didactics of research-based learning. Siemens Stiftung’s international education program Experimento had been added to the university’s curriculum at the Department of Educational Sciences in the current summer 2018 semester.
How does a hot wire work? How can I make glue from potatoes? How can a balloon be used as a thermometer? In the current summer semester at University of Oldenburg, around 30 aspiring teachers are learning about questions pertaining to science and technology and a modern form of teaching: research-based learning. With research-based learning, children and adolescents form their own questions, apply various methods to come up with a hypothesis, reflect on their solutions, and prepare results on their own. In addition to learning the subject matter, children develop a sense of responsibility, an understanding of compromise and good judgement, team spirit, and social skills.
Teacher training experiments
For the first time, Siemens Stiftung’s international education program Experimento has been incorporated into the education curriculum at University of Oldenburg to shape teacher training. Around 130 experiments, didactically-prepared teaching materials, and concrete experiment instructions inspire lessons that promote enjoyment, understanding, and interest in science and technology. “The Experimento concept is ideal because it goes beyond mere comprehension and is tied to our surroundings. For example, the subject of energy is not studied in isolation. It is addressed in the overall context of related social issues. This is important for us, particularly when we consider ‘education for sustainable development.’ Addressing the students’ own use of technology and resources gives them a sense of awareness right from the beginning,” says Dr. Andreas Schmitt, an educator at University of Oldenburg and initiator of the project. He is also responsible for science and technology lesson training for aspiring primary and special school teachers and coordinates the implementation of Experimento.
Tried and tested training module
Andreas Schmitt began testing the possibilities of Experimento in the previous winter semester. His experience and the positive reactions from teaching students led to the decision to anchor Experimento in education courses for the summer semester. “The course was a lot of fun! I learned some great experiments that I can use once I become a teacher. We tried out the experiments ourselves, so I have a much better sense of what to consider when I prepare and conduct the experiments, and how I can incorporate them into lessons,” says education student Isabella Schmidt of her experience.
International engagement for well-trained teachers
Since 2011, Siemens Stiftung has actively implemented Experimento in 12 countries in the focus regions of Latin America, Africa, and Germany. More than 8,500 teachers have received training. “Around the world, high-quality teacher training is a key condition for lessons that enable children and adolescents to actively and constructively take part in society. With the international education program Experimento, we hope to promote training and continuing education in science and technology for primary school teachers to reduce barriers to accessing STEM subjects,” explains Werner Busch, project manager at Siemens Stiftung.
About the Carl von Ossietzky Universität (University of Oldenburg)
Carl von Ossietzky Universität was founded in 1973. Its goal is to find answers to the major challenges society faces in the 21st century – through interdisciplinary, cutting-edge research. Many among the university’s staff are integrated into special research areas, research groups, and European clusters of excellence. The university cooperates closely with more than 200 other universities worldwide and is also affiliated with non-university institutes in the areas of research, education, culture, and business. More than 13,700 students are enrolled in the university in a broad range of disciplines, from cultural studies and the humanities to economic and social sciences, mathematics, computer science, natural sciences, and medicine. Research-based instructional learning formats are a defining element.