10/11 October 2022
IDoS Peer Network held its first in-person Meeting in Berlin
The first face-to-face meeting of the International Dialogue on STEM Education (IDoS) peer network was held in Berlin on 10/11 October 2022. For the first time since the foundation of this dialogue network, its six peer members met in person, travelling from as far as the US to join the International Dialogue. In focus workshops and group discussions, the participants talked about the benefits of networking and the challenges and opportunities of digitalisation in the field of STEM Education.
At the hub of Siemensstadt Square and in the headquarters of the “Haus der kleinen Forscher” Foundation (Little Scientists’ House) “Haus der kleinen Forscher” together with Siemens Stiftung co-hosted the event. Both are peer members and initiators of IDoS. Among the international guests were the peers: Smithsonian Science Education Center (USA), LUMA Centre Finland (Finland), Fondation La main à la pâte (France), and the Office for Climate Education (France).
Common Vision: High-quality STEM Education
The peer organisations are experts and developers in the field of early STEM Education for Sustainable Development in their countries and work towards the promotion of high-quality and sustainable learning of children in early childhood education and care centres, after-school centres, and primary schools. To foster international dialogue and for the benefit of learning from each other through best-practice-exchanges on commonly faced challenges the members frequently meet online and expressed their motivation by attending this first in-person get-together after more than a year of virtual meetings.
In his introductory speech, Michael Fritz, Executive Manager of “Haus der kleinen Forscher” Foundation acknowledged that despite the differences between each peer organisation (in their country-specific educational systems, learning conditions and expectations) they all share a common vision:
“What unites us all here is a shared goal: We want to enable all children to make informed and sustainable decisions and to act in a way that benefits their community, the environment, and society as a whole – to contribute to a better and brighter future.”
Focus Topic: Paper on “Impact-oriented Networks”
The focus of the first day of the event was on the common paper the peers are currently writing. This learning paper analyses the question: "How can networks help encourage the development and professionalisation of innovative STEM Education for Sustainable Development?" In several discussions and brainstorming rounds, the peers consolidated the content and planned the next steps of the writing process. The paper is meant to help other STEM initiatives around the globe in their quality development, with findings based directly on best-practice of existing networks in the field. It is scheduled to be published in early 2023.
STEM Education and Digitalisation
On the second day of the IDoS peer meeting, the members took a deeper look into the complex field of STEM Education and Digitalisation – the defined focus topic of IDoS for the following year. With an introductory presentation that set the scene for this topic, Prof Dr Ilan Chabay, Senior Research Associate at IASS Potsdam, talked about “Addressing narratives and normative views in digital media for STEM learning,” explaining how digitisation has opened a whole new world of models: the climate change model, the pandemic model and how we can use these to interpret data and involve young children in the process to provide them with experiential early education.
Followed by more expert presentations and interactive sessions, the participants deepened their understanding of new digital trends and developments like Open Educational Resources (OER) and the introduction of digital tools into (young) children’s learning environments. Furthermore, a presentation by Elena Pasquinelli of Fondation La Main à la Pate on “STEM Education and digitalization - Dispelling myths, adopting evidence-based strategies” resulted in a highly engaging discussion among the peers. They discussed the advantages and challenges of introducing digital learning material into the classroom and on the current lack of evidence with regards to the effectiveness of such an introduction.
Benefits of Networking
The engaging presentations and intense discussions on the guiding topics of the event reminded each peer of the immense benefits of an in-person and international exchange. Managing Director and Spokesperson of the Board, Siemens Stiftung, Dr. Nina Smidt’s opening remarks found an echo in each peers’ individual feedback during the final assessment of the two-day get-together:
“The fact that we can work together not only in our countries or Europe but also across the world through sharing our individual learning materials and learning from each other is only possible because of digitisation and networks. I’m a strong believer that through networks we can achieve anything and everything and find a way even to the biggest challenges that we are currently facing on a global level”, Smidt said.
Similarly, in her closing remarks, project manager of IDoS, Nina Henke from “Haus der kleinen Forscher” Foundation stressed:
“The energy and synergies that we’ve witnessed over the last two days is inspiring. It makes a real difference to finally meet in person and to see that all peers are motivated to get engaged for a better STEM Education for Sustainable Development in both their own regional context and in the IDoS Peer network itself.”
The next peer meeting will take place virtually again on 5 December 2022.
About the “International Dialogue on STEM Education”
The International Dialogue on STEM Education (IDoS) is a joint initiative of Siemens Stiftung and the “Haus der kleinen Forscher” Foundation (Little Scientists’ House) that promotes high-quality early STEM Education for Sustainable Development worldwide. Together with selected expert members, the initiative aims to establish a “Peer Dialogue” – that is, systematic and regular exchanges at international level – that will benefit the actors and organisations involved in the development of the education sectors in their respective countries.
Parties concerned are able to learn from and with the best players in the field of early STEM Education (the so-called "IDoS Peers") worldwide and thus implement their work at home more efficiently, more effectively, and in a more knowledge-based way.
IDoS operates under the auspices of the German Commission for UNESCO and the OECD; it receives financial support from Siemens Stiftung and the DAAD (from funding provided by the German Federal Foreign Office).