"Discover, understand, implement, and transfer" is part of the Hamburg Metropolitan Region's initiative to counteract the shortage of skilled labor in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) occupations. An intervention program aiming to maintain and increase students' interest in science and technology topics was implemented in three secondary schools from the German federal states Schleswig-Holstein, Hamburg, and Lower Saxony. Adolescents with high interest in STEM-related school subjects are expected to be more strongly inclined to enter training for related careers after school.
Starting in Grade 8, teams of students cooperated with a regional science-related company in designing experiments. The intervention was offered as a science elective characterized by project-based learning; relating to the science knowledge necessary to understand the company's production processes, students independently designed experiments suitable for students in Grades 5 and 6. Following the principle of "learning by teaching", the older students carried out the experiments with the younger students. The Kinderforscher an der TUHH (Hamburg University of Technology) developed the teaching concept and supported teachers and students during its implementation.
The evaluation of the project is conducted by the IPN. Students in all participating grade levels were surveyed repeatedly during the two years for which the intervention was funded. Moreover, the longitudinal design comprised a follow-up test two years after completion of the intervention. Thus, the evaluation will be able to attest to whether or not the intervention has had lasting effects. All students in the respective grade levels were surveyed and classmates not participating in the program served as a control group. Additional data were collected from teachers as well as from experts who rated the quality of the experiments developed by the students.
Prof. Dr. Olaf Köller
Dr. Kerstin Schütte