In order to discuss at the European level how MINT young talent can be successfully promoted, the Ministry of Culture and Science of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia invited people to the NRW state representation in Brussels on November 15, 2023. The example of zdi.NRW showed how extracurricular MINT education can be organized and implemented regionally.
zdi.NRW as a lighthouse project for Europe
Represented, among others, by the head of the “Further Education and Political Education” department of the North Rhine-Westphalia Ministry of Culture and Science, Prof. Dr. Hans-Ulrich Baumgarten, zdi.NRW presented the work and successes of the community.
As the most populous federal state with large regional differences, North Rhine-Westphalia presents the community of MINT actors with different challenges. Challenges that the many different regions of Europe can identify with. That is why the experiences and successes of zdi.NRW are particularly exemplary. zdi is the largest network in Europe for promoting young MINT talent. Accordingly, zdi also has a wealth of experience and successfully established good practice examples. Not only NRW and Germany should be able to benefit from this, but all regions of Europe.
zdi.NRW has been there since 2020 member of EU STEM Coalition. The EU STEM Coalition (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, STEM is the English form of MINT) brings together MINT education platforms from different regions of Europe. They have the common goal of inspiring young people for MINT careers and thus attracting the skilled workers of tomorrow. In addition to promoting young MINT talent, the EU STEM Coalition is also committed to making the best possible use of the EU's available financial resources. On the one hand, this involves expanding and strengthening the reach and impact of existing programs. But it is also about concentrating on initiatives that work, linking them successfully and transferring them to the different European regions. This promotes European cooperation.
“STEM Education Beyond the Classroom”
The participants in a discussion group dedicated themselves to the importance of regionalized, extracurricular MINT education, including the zdi alumna Sophie-Charlotte Keunecke Prof. Dr. Baumgarten, Sabine Verheyen (Chair of the Committee for Culture and Education/Member of the European Parliament), Georgi Dimitrov (Directorate General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture, European Commission) and Beatrice Boots (Managing Director Platform Talent voor Technologie (NL) and EU Coordination STEM Coalition) counted.
It became clear how important the bottom-up approach pursued by zdi.NRW is for successful regional MINT education.
The regions would be given the opportunity to develop and implement offers in line with their needs - without major requirements “from above”. It also became clear how important it is to inspire not only young people in general, but especially girls and young women, for MINT. Because only together can the challenges that we face, for example climate change, be overcome.
Participatory exhibition “zdi.NRW you can touch”
Making MINT understandable is one of the main concerns of zdi.NRW. The members of the zdi community also took this to heart, presenting the work of their zdi networks and student laboratories in the exhibition “zdi.NRW to touch”. There were program points along the entire educational chain:
The zdi Center MINT Network Essen demonstrated a MINT program for elementary and primary school using a balloon rocket.
The zdi center ANTalive in the city region of Aachen, Düren and Euskirchen, together with the Science College Overbach, presented their bicycle workshop for middle school.
The zdi student laboratory at Hamm-Lippstadt University presented the indoor farm that middle school students created as part of the zdi Science League. The team took first place with this farm in the competition.
The zdi network DU.MINT presented offers for upper secondary schools in the Duisburg Lower Rhine region. A self-running brush could be built here.
Continue successful collaboration for MINT funding
zdi.NRW makes an impression, not only in North Rhine-Westphalia and Germany, but also in Europe. The fruitful cooperation should be maintained and further expanded in the future. This means that as many regions in Europe as possible should be able to benefit from zdi.NRW's wealth of experience and successful approaches.