The University of Stuttgart has been working together with the Initiative Junge Forscherinnen und Forscher (IJF) since January 2021. The IJF is committed to supporting children and young people in STEM subjects. It organizes school visits and courses for teachers involved in mathematics, computer science, natural science, and technology.
"When the IJF introduced itself to us in Vaihingen, it became apparent that we have very similar goals in terms of STEM support and enthusiasm for these subjects", says Ronny Nawrodt, Professor of Physics Education Research. The initiative was aiming to expand in Baden-Württemberg and was looking for a long-term partner to work together with to coordinate activities. "The University of Stuttgart is a beacon in terms of STEM education in Baden-Württemberg. The courses we offer our students in STEM subjects, and in our teacher training programs, have structures that are of great interest to the IJF", says Prof. Hansgeorg Binz, Vice Rector for Teaching and Continuing Education. The university also benefits from the IJF because the initiative offers activities that provide a platform for working with school students and teachers.
Ensuring STEM topics are sustainable
The goal is to ensure that a high-quality STEM education is sustainably anchored in the German school system and to introduce young people to STEM careers very early on. Practical projects are designed to get school students excited about STEM subjects. A sustainable continuing education and training campaign for teachers is also taking place simultaneously. This comprises alternating workshops and real practical phases with school students at a teacher's own school. Christoph Petschenka, Director of the IJF, says: "Our scientists sensitize teachers to modern STEM education and motivate them to enrich their lessons with excellent practical projects."
Practical experience for trainee teachers
First and foremost, working with teacher training programs is extremely interesting because the students want to gather practical experience at an early stage. The IJF also offers students jobs as research assistants. So that they can become part of the school team. Nawrodt emphasizes, "There is great research in Stuttgart that can be built upon and integrated into the IJF's STEM learning cycle and the related cyclical continuing education courses". He is also convinced that the parallel monitoring of activities by educational researchers is also an important component. Both parties are looking forward to further collaborative projects that will hopefully be expanded in the future and made available to all university institutions.
School students learn computer science by developing a treatment game
The first project will commence in fall, 2021 and will focus on working together on the subject of computer science in the classroom. School students from the eighth grade and upwards will take part in a small project, learning the basics of sensor systems and microcontrollers, as well as how to program and control these. The project will take the form of a so-called "treatment game". The idea is, that a fictitious sick person will improve and strengthen their motor skills with targeted physiotherapy exercises. To do this, the students will need to develop and implement program sequences that initiate movement sequences in the patients and check that the patients respond as expected. The school students are encouraged to work creatively, but they also need to work together in group discussions and analysis, where they can present their thoughts and findings. "It is always fascinating to see what ideas the students come up with when programing the treatment game and how they implement these, using the programming tool Scratch and a self-design input device", says Pascal Hauser, project manager at IJF. They are able to practice all development phases: from the project idea to its execution and implementation.
- Ronny Nawrodt, Professor for Physics Education Research, 5. Physikalisches Institut; Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel.: +49 711 685-67465