Josef-Schwarz-Schule – Excellence for future skills
When Experimenta opened its new Science Center in Heilbronn on Sunday, 31 March 2019, many JSS students chose to come along. It was partly down to curiosity, as local schools are able to work together at the adjoining child research centre to develop projects for the ‘Jugend forscht’ (young researchers) competition. The collaboration between JSS and Experimenta, meanwhile, has really taken root: JSS students are able to attend the labs there to learn things like how a robot is programmed or how DNA analysis works.
These kinds of initiatives that go beyond the curriculum helped the Josef-Schwarz-Schule to receive the title of ‘STEM-friendly school’ for its secondary levels 1 and 2. The primary school received the same certification back in 2016. The Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs (KMK) awards this distinction to schools throughout Germany that demonstrate pedagogic excellence by encouraging their students’ learning in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
The STEM programme at the Josef-Schwarz-Schule includes one hour more of maths per week than stipulated in the state curriculum. The primary school also has its own small research laboratory, where the children conduct different experiments every month, under supervision. The afternoon club programme is another key STEM component at the school. JSS teacher Maria Tasker, who played a guiding role in the ‘STEM-friendly school’ project, reports: ‘Kids who are naturally drawn to STEM subjects come to the after-school clubs. I have some very keen year five students joining the maths and science programme. And I’ve got some highly inquisitive scientists that come along to that. We also have the coding club.’
STEM-friendly schools receive particularly strong support by the business sector: ‘These excellent schools do an outstanding job and inspire students to learn more about STEM. They are setting high standards in disseminating “future skills” and providing a focused professional grounding,’ says Stefan Küpper, Director of Politics, Education and the Job Market at Arbeitgeber Baden-Württemberg, one of the partner institutions that decides whether to award the quality label. The ‘STEM-friendly school’ label provides guidance for parents about where their children will receive a scientific and technical education that matches their interests.