Rolf HEMPELMANN, MINT-Campus Alte Schmelz e.V., Germany
Sustainability and climate protection as a development goal of actually all societies worldwide can be achieved most effectively through Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) for young people. For ESD there is the well-known three-pillar model Ecology - Economy – Social Affairs. STEM must be added as a fourth pillar, because without R&D and the resulting progress in the sustainability of products and processes, sustainable development and climate protection cannot be achieved. The corresponding expanded education is called STEM Sustainability Education. The aim is to arouse and promote interest in and understanding of natural and engineering sciences in children and young people. This is a social task, because today's young people are tomorrow's adults and will co-shape our knowledge-based society, also with a view to sustainability and climate protection; scientific literacy is needed. The transition from knowledge transfer to transformative education (sustainability and climate protection in thought and action) is best achieved by experiments, according to Confucius (500 BC): Tell me and I will forget ... Show me , and I may keep it ... Let me do it and I will be able to.
For this social task of great relevance, the formal education sector, the school, needs support at non-formal learning locations outside of school. Committed citizens have recognized this need for action and are now running, organized in the association MINT-Campus Alte Schmelz e.V., on a unsalaried basis the Youngsters´ Research & Technology Center (SchülerForschungs- & -TechnikZentrum, SFTZ), which is on the site of a former ironworks (Alte Schmelz) in the town of St. Ingbert and was created through the complete renovation of the former Laboratory building. The SFTZ has large laboratories for chemistry / sustainable chemistry and for biology / ecological biology, in which entire classes can experiment, as well as measuring rooms for mechatronics / environmental sensors, for metallurgy / green steel, for new energies / electrochemistry and a room for computer science / energy informatics. All of these areas of expertise of the SFTZ embody sustainability and climate protection. The laboratories and measuring rooms are equipped with the latest technology and through this professionalism convey authenticity to the young people, which is very important for educational success and science communication.
In the sense of STEM broad promotion, the SFTZ organizes half-day practical trainings for whole school classes; in the sense of STEM individual promotion, courses on vocational orientation for STEM professions and on imparting experimental skills. STEM leisure time activities for motivated young people in the evenings, on weekends and during the school holidays can be seen as STEM promotion of young talents: the youngsters conduct research, supervised by scientists as mentors, on their own projects and can, for example, prepare for participation in science competitions.