Service-Learning in STEM
Taking societal responsibility
Service-learning is a form of teaching and learning that combines subject learning in the classroom with civic engagement. In our project, learners put knowledge and skills learned in science class to practical use while making an active contribution to their communities. We enable young people, regardless of their background, to have a positive and empowering experience with scholastic education, civic engagement, social participation, and democratic action.
Using our international education program Experimento as a starting point, we worked with the Foundation for Learning through Civic Engagement – an off-shoot of the Freudenberg Foundation since 2017 – to launch the “Service-Learning in STEM subjects” project. The project’s goal is to motivate students to take responsibility and strengthen their environmental consciousness. In addition, students become more aware of sustainability, solidarity, and social justice in their daily lives. By directly and personally addressing community-based values in STEM subjects, students experience the meaning and the purpose of science and technology in a society. For example, fifth year students learn about nutrition and food in biology class before creating an age-appropriate learning game with tips on a healthy diet. They use the game to promote healthy school breakfasts at the primary schools in their community.
The subject matter learned in the classroom becomes easier to grasp once it is put into practice. The civic engagement also allows children to use their knowledge and skills for the good of others. Following the practical elements of a lesson, students engage in reflective exercises, discussing and identifying their experiences. This helps the students create connections to their own lives and expand their own perception of values.
Teachers can familiarize themselves with the teaching methods using interactive web based training. The online courses are free of charge and are divided into three modules. These cover everything from the basic concept of service-learning to suggestions on how the teaching and learning methods can be implemented in the classroom.
The “Service-Learning in STEM subjects” handout provides several suggestions and deeper insights into the practicalities of the method. Additionally, the handout outlines the first steps for creating a service-learning project. It is available along with supplementary worksheets in Siemens Stiftung’s Media Portal for STEM lessons as a free, open-license download.