zdi community event 2023

“Use the power of the network!” – Together for the future of extracurricular MINT education in NRW

A group of people stand in front of a large screen.

Exchange, network, impulses: this was the motto of this year's zdi community event. The evening before, there was a lively exchange between the actors from the various zdi networks and student laboratories at the get-together on the roof terrace of the Flowers Hotel in Essen.

At the zdi community event on September 8th, everything revolved around topics related to extracurricular MINT education in North Rhine-Westphalia. On behalf of the Ministry of Culture and Science of North Rhine-Westphalia, the zdi state office invited the NRW-wide zdi community to the octagon of the Zollverein mine in Essen.

You can find a few impressions of the two events in this video:

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Georg Mertens speaks on a podium in front of a screen.
Three people stand in front of a screen with a certificate.
A group of people sit in front of a large screen.

Science Minister Ina Brandes thanked the zdi community for their commitment to MINT education in a video message. She also praised the diversity of the offerings. Georg Mertens, the head of the MKW department responsible for zdi, emphasized in his welcome the great commitment of the actors to maintain the offers even through the pandemic years and the energy crisis. The region-specific freedoms and the “bottom-up approach” are being used very well by the community. In this way, many young people can be reached in a very targeted manner.

A member of the zdi community was honored and farewell: Klaus Trimborn received the first zdi certificate of honor for his long-standing commitment to zdi.NRW and as a co-founder of the first zdi network IST.Bochum. He was appointed zdi country coordinator in the MSB in August Claas Niehues replaced.

Afterwards, the zdi community was able to address current developments and trends in MINT education in keynote speeches and sessions. The actors also exchanged ideas about their own experiences in the network in lively discussions. At various stands, participants were also able to find out more about the newly revised zdi community platform or zdi robot competition inform. The team of zdi center MINT network Essen presented their own offers.

Sustainability continues to play an important role

The presentations by the two speakers provided new insights into one of the major topic areas that zdi has been dealing with all year round: Sustainable energy management.

Is sustainability still enough?

Stephan Hankammer gives a presentation in front of a screen.

Under this title, Prof. Dr. Stephan Hankammer from the Chair of Sustainable Management, Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Alanus University gave his keynote speech and gave those present insights into the world of regenerative business.


An important aspect of this is to network communities with motivation for sustainability issues and communities with specialist knowledge. Hankammer called for further thinking, further development and further development in order to make a regenerative economy possible.

After a short question and answer session, the topic could be discussed in more depth in a smaller group in one of the three parallel sessions. For Stephan Hankammer it was very clear: “We are all helping to shape the future. There are better and worse versions of the future. Committing to the better option is what drives me.”

Sustainability goals and MINT skills

After the lunch break, the keynote speech by speaker Rebecca Freitag continued. The environmental scientist, sustainability expert and former UN youth delegate showed her personal path into a STEM career. She discussed the UN Sustainable Development Goals and how the rules of transformation can be made the focus of one's life.

Here too, the impulse content was deepened after a short question and answer session in one of the three sessions.

Rebecca Freitag gives a lecture to an audience.

Rebecca Freitag made it clear what a big role empowerment plays in activating young people. “I didn’t just want to learn studies to understand the important sustainability issues. I wanted to be able to form my own opinion.” To ensure this, structures are needed in which young people can actively participate and help shape things.

Anna-Marie from the zdi youth advisory board was also at the zdi community event. Here are your own impressions and experiences: Anna-Marie reports on the zdi community event

From OGS to ESD – these topics concern the zdi community

Four further sessions offered by zdi actors provided inspiration and enabled the exchange of experiences on topics that are currently affecting the zdi community.

Two women give a lecture to a group of people.
Session on the topic of OGS
A group of people sit in a room, discuss and laugh.
Session Extended Target Groups and BSO-MINT-Lab
A group of people sit in a room and discuss.
Session ESD meets MINT
A group of people sit on chairs in a room.

Lively exchanges and discussions took place in sessions on the topics of “Open All-Day School (OGS)”, “ESD meets MINT” and “Visibility and networking in the region”.

The zdi community has already dealt with the topic of “extended target groups and the BSO-MINT-Lab” in an article under the magnifying glass: Click here for the first part Blog post. The community also had lively discussions in this session and would like to see an exchange beyond the community event.

The sessions resulted in very concrete starting points for the zdi actors: contacts within and outside the zdi community could be identified and good practice examples could be exchanged.

Conclusion: Which topics will play a special role in 2024?

The announcement of the zdi annual theme 2024 by the MKW focused on one of the topics that will concern the zdi community in the coming year. The overarching theme “Living spaces of the future | NRW: Innovative Life in the Future” will focus on the topic “Smart Cities – Cities as Living Spaces of the Future” in 2024. The trend towards urbanization should be taken into account here. Because this development presents us with major social, ecological and economic challenges. City and infrastructure planning must be sustainable in the future. New professional fields and ways of securing skilled workers must be established in order to be able to overcome these challenges. But the “countertrend” of the “new country lust” can also be taken into account here.

And what were the reactions to the community meeting? “This event showed me once again how important it is to see ourselves as a network. Only together can we tackle the major issues of the future. We must, want and can use the power of our network!” emphasized Alex Tillmanns from the zdi Center Mönchengladbach in the final round.

The exchange, networking and mutual support offered to the zdi community at this event made it clear to those present: zdi.NRW brings the MINT community in NRW together!

Here is the follow-up report from zdi youth advisory board member Anna-Marie:

Here you can find the picture gallery for the zdi community event:

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