In Saarland, there are clubs where children and young people can train at set times and improve their skills in everything from soccer and dancing to karate and table tennis. For a few months now, the Saarlouis School Research Center has also been offering a fixed “training schedule” for science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Every Wednesday from 4 to 6 p.m., it hosts a “MINTwoch” event where children aged 10 to 13 can try things out and develop their skills in the various STEM fields.
The center isn’t only open on Wednesdays, though. It offers around three dozen different workshops for school classes. Students can learn how an electronic thermometer works, how to generate energy with solar cells, how to program a Lego robot or how to control the electronic circuit in their smartphones. Even better, the Saarlouis School Research Center is in a perfect location. “It’s easy to get to from several high schools, which means our workshops can be integrated into longer class periods,” explains Dr. Andreas Schütze, chairman of the association behind the center.
And that’s not his only role: Schütze is also a professor at Saarland University and the chairman of VDE Saar. Above all, he is someone who has made it his mission to introduce children and young people to the world of technology. He’s been at it for more than 20 years,
and his latest coup is the “Day of Technology@School.” The day itself has been around for a long time, but Schütze has expanded it into more than an event that only attracts those already interested in technology. “This time, we incorporated an entire school,” he reveals. “We wanted to show all 800 high school students that technology is cool.” To that end, around 50 engineers and scientists descended on the Peter Wust Gymnasium in the district of Merzig-Wadern. With a broad program of science rallies, short lectures, experimental workshops and high tech, they offered exciting insights into research and university studies. But what was the reception like? Schütze’s face breaks into a wide grin: “They immediately asked us if we wanted to do it every year!”
Meanwhile, the professor also supports students at his own workplace, the Laboratory for Measurement Technology. While most industrial companies don’t accept high school students as interns for safety reasons, they are welcome to join him at his university. How else can you show children what engineers do all day long? “We can’t be surprised if children and young people have no idea what our profession involves and end up choosing different paths in their education.”
Dr. Andreas Schütze spoke in-depth with VDE dialog: