Issue 50, May 2014
bulletSTEM in Germany
bulletInnovation: The Max Planck Science Tunnel
bulletInterview with Prof. Dr. Gesche Joost - Germany's Digital Champion for the European Commission
bulletBIOTechnikum
bulletScience on Stage: Germany's Best Teaching Ideas for Europe
bulletMINTernational - Internationalizing STEM Education and Research
STEM in Germany 

Germany, a land of innovation and cutting-edge technology, is home to world-class scientific and technical research institutions. A global player in the automotive, chemical and pharmaceutical industries as well as biotech and nanotech sectors, Germany has a high percentage of R&D-intensive industries. Historically, Germany has excelled in sophisticated technologies, such as medical devices and automotive manufacturing. To maintain its competitive edge in the future, Germany plans to harness the potential of key technologies in the fields of optical, materials, nano, and microsystems sciences. 

  

Public and private sector demand for top engineers, mathematicians, scientists, and IT specialists is on the rise in Germany, as in many leading nations, in order to accelerate the transfer of R&D knowledge to new products, processes, and services. Qualified professionals in the STEM disciplines (short for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) will help advance technological developments, which in turn will create new markets and employment opportunities. In Germany, STEM is known by the acronym "MINT" (short in German for Mathematik, Informatik, Naturwissenschaft, and Technik). 

 

Despite attractive career prospects, too few trained technical workers exist to meet the demands of this global race for talent. Tens of thousands of critical jobs go unfilled due to the lack of qualified applicants. Demographic changes and the demand for STEM graduates outside of traditional STEM occupational fields further exacerbate this personnel shortage.

 

To counteract the deficit of qualified professionals, the German federal government has increased efforts to promote STEM literacy at an early age. It has also founded the Qualified Professional Initiative to secure the long-term availability of highly skilled workers nationwide. The "Make it in Germany" welcome portal is a key component of this initiative, which focuses on securing talent from abroad. "Recognition in Germany," an initiative of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), further provides information on how foreigners can receive recognition for their professional and vocational qualifications to secure similar work in Germany.  

 

 


article2Innovation: The Max Planck Science Tunnel
 
Source: © Max Planck Society

New technologies today build on a broad spectrum of scientific findings. Fundamental discoveries in one discipline at present can lead to crucial advances in vastly different areas in the future. After centuries of diversification, the life sciences, natural sciences, and engineering disciplines are converging once again.

The Max Planck Science Tunnel, a highly successful international science communications initiative, takes visitors on a journey through the major fields of basic research - from the marvels of the brain and the origins of space to the future of sustainable energy supply.

This traveling, hands-on exhibition uses objects, illustrations, interviews, films, and experiential augmented reality media spaces to offer visitors new insights and perspectives on cutting-edge research and future technologies. From quarks and the cosmos to the building blocks of life, the exhibition focuses on eight key areas: the universe, matter, life, complexity, the brain, health, energy, and society.

The tunnel has become an international sensation, traveling the globe from Shanghai and Seoul to Johannesburg and Lima, to prove that science has no bounds. Over nine million people worldwide have experienced versions one and two of the tunnel since its millennial debut at the World's Fair in Hanover, Germany. Version 3.0 is currently on display until June 23 in Beijing, China.

By highlighting science in the media as a cultural activity, the Max Planck Society is reaffirming its belief in the importance of science education and its commitment to knowledge as public property. Research not only enriches cultural and educational opportunities for the general populous, but it also helps nations safeguard future economic prosperity. As Prof. Dr. Peter Gruss, President of the Max Planck Society, once stated, "Research at the frontiers of knowledge provides the basis for the development of innovations." By supporting this education initiative, the Max Planck Society is investing in future scientists who will help address the challenges of a world in transition.

To watch a video about the Max Planck Science Tunnel 3.0, click here

Image: © Jan Braun, Heinz Nixdorf MuseumsForum

  

  

 

Prof. Dr. Gesche Joost, Head of the Design Research Lab at the Berlin University of the Arts, is a well-respected expert on wearable computing, embodied interaction design, and gender and diversity in technology development.


In her interview with GCRI, Prof. Dr. Joost describes her lab's interdisciplinary research areas as well as the differing needs and desires of men and women with regards to ICT. In addition to sharing her vision for the future of human-machine interaction, she also offers suggestions on how to promote digital change within Germany. To read the full interview, click here.

Prof. Dr. Joost is Chairwoman of the German Society for Design Theory and Research (DGTF) and a board member of the Technologiestiftung Berlin. Until 2010, she was Junior Professor for Interaction Design and Media at the Technische Universität Berlin in cooperation with Telekom Innovation Laboratories. She also previously taught Gender and Design at the HAWK Hildesheim University of Applied Sciences and Arts as a visiting professor. In 2008, Prof. Dr. Joost received the Science Award of the Governing Mayor of Berlin for Young Researchers.

In 2014, Prof. Dr. Joost was appointed Germany's Digital Champion for the European Commission. As an ambassador for the EU's Digital Agenda, she will harness her creativity and expertise to lead innovative projects in ICT education, digital inclusion and access, and e-government. These efforts will help pave the way to a free and innovative Internet infrastructure, which is integral to Europe's economic growth, social participation, and knowledge sharing. 

 

Image: © UdK Berlin, Design Research Lab 

 

 


 

It is hard to imagine our lives without biotechnology - it is used for new medical treatments and diagnostic procedures as well as for everyday products such as toothpaste, shampoo, and detergent. Biotechnology enables technological progress, a higher quality of life, and sustainable production methods. 


BIOTechnikum, a mobile, double-decker exhibition bus, is making its way across Germany - from Berlin and Braunschweig to Stadthagen and Surwold - to spread awareness about the importance and future of biotechnology. Led by experienced scientists, this initiative brings key research areas, such as bioeconomy and health economics, directly to schools, universities, trade fairs, and companies. A mobile forum for science exploration, the bus is equipped with a laboratory, exhibition displays, and a multimedia room. Up to 60 people can experience biotechnology first-hand on the ground floor; 30 visitors can watch the cinema on the second level.

Programming can be tailored to accommodate different skill levels regardless of whether visitors are novices, genetics experts, or bio-technicians. BIOTechnikum offers a variety of educational formats ranging from lecture series and lab practicals to special roundtable events with industry representatives, scientists, and politicians. During the tour's most recent stop in Kelheim, Germany, visitors became forensic scientists for the day, completing their own DNA fingerprinting during the lab workshop "CSI BIOTechnikum."

An initiative of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), BIOTechnikum not only shares information on how individuals benefit from biotechnology products and procedures in their everyday lives, but it also increases awareness about the various career opportunities in the field. BIOTechnikum also partners with biotechnologie.de, Bioekomie.de, bioSicherheit, Wissenschaftsjahr 2014, komm mach MINT, and nanoTRUCK.

For a list of upcoming tour stops in Germany, click here. To experience a virtual tour of the bus, click here.   

 

Source & Image: © BMBF initiative "BIOTechnikum: Experience research - health, nutrition, environment"  

 

From using smartphones to measure the acceleration of a subway train to producing bubbling wax to explain the solar surface, Science on Stage Germany provides a platform for German STEM educators to exchange innovative teaching concepts with passionate colleagues from 24 European countries and Canada. Through Science on Stage, teachers gain new insights and inspiration for their own classrooms. This knowledge sharing helps support the program's ultimate goal of improving science education and encouraging more students to consider careers in science and engineering.


Every two years, Science on Stage Germany organizes a national event to select the best German educators to present at Europe's biggest science teaching festival. Throughout the event, teachers exchange ideas, projects, and methods during workshops, presentations, and a fair. Science on Stage Germany then transfers these best practices into German classrooms through teacher trainings. The initiative also organizes workshops for international groups of teachers, who jointly develop materials on topics, such as smartphone use in science teaching. The results are then published in print and as an iBook and are disseminated throughout Germany and Europe. Science on Stage Germany offers several hundred multilingual teaching materials for science teachers in both primary and secondary education. These materials are free to download and use.

Science on Stage Germany e.V. is a registered non-profit association. The Berlin-based organization was founded in 2003 and reaches 8,000 teachers and education experts nationally. The initiative represents one of the 25 member countries of Science on Stage Europe, which reaches up to 40,000 educators.

Science on Stage Germany is strongly supported by the Federation of German Employers' Associations in the Metal and Electrical Engineering Industries (GESAMTMETALL) through the initiative think ING (German only website).

For more information on Science on Stage Germany, visit www.science-on-stage.de (German only). To learn more about Science on Stage Europe, click here

 

Source & Image: © Science on Stage Deutschland e.V.

 

 

Source: Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft


The international exchange of knowledge and researchers as well as teachers and students drives scientific insight. Attracting researchers and students from abroad strengthens Germany's innovative power and competitiveness in global markets. Many universities have therefore successfully designed and implemented strategies to become more international. The STEM disciplines - or MINT disciplines as they are called in German - play a central role in these efforts.

The funding program "MINTernational," an initiative of the Daimler and Benz Foundation, the Daimler-Fonds, and the Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft, a joint effort for promoting science and education in Germany, supports this process by improving the internationalization of STEM education and research at German institutions of higher education.

The program seeks to identify and financially support these STEM internationalization strategies and activities. One program aim is to assist higher education institutions in becoming more attractive and welcoming to foreign students and scientists. In turn, these efforts will also open doors for researchers from abroad to attain temporary or permanent residence in Germany. Attracting and retaining foreign talent may also help address the impending shortage of skilled labor in certain industries in Germany. In addition, MINTernational seeks to facilitate international opportunities for domestic students.

The total program funding will reach up to 1.8 million euros over the next three years. The program will support two strategy concepts, one for a university and one for a university of applied sciences, a benchmarking club responsible for developing a manual of internationalization strategies, and a "Best Performance Prize," awarded for the highest progress in a range of selected internationalization indicators.

The MINTernational competition awards were presented on May 8, 2014 at the second MINT Summit in Berlin. The winners of this year's competition are the University of Applied Sciences Würzburg-Schweinfurt (FHWS) and the University of Bremen, which will receive 500,000 euros to implement their STEM internationalization strategy concepts.  

 

Image: © Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft/David Ausserhofer

   

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