When a Town Becomes a Classroom

Steinbeis project fosters sustainability education

Education in the field of sustainable development, the use of innovative learning methods and real-world applications relating to specific issues – these are the areas covered by an ongoing educational project run by the Steinbeis Innovation Center for Logistics and Sustainability (SLN) in Sinsheim. The project involves four schools and one non-school partner, the municipal administration of Sinsheim.

Currently, the participants from the schools are busy with the practical phase. For example, a team of twelfth-graders from Max Weber School in Sinsheim are working with the Lokale Agenda group on “Promoting and Optimizing Bicycle Traffic.” Project participants cycled along the two main axes of Sinsheim’s bicycle network, documenting what they discovered in photographs. The aim was to call attention to road safety hazards. As a next step, the team of students is planning to conduct a survey of bicyclists to identify their requirements for a municipal network of bicycle tracks. They will then work with SLN and the municipal authorities to develop a set of recommendations.

Two teams from the twelfth-grade seminar at Friedrich Hecker School are looking at the green energy revolution on a regional level, using the example of a city to see how it is being implemented. Jens-Jochen Roth, director of the Steinbeis Innovation Center, organized an expert discussion with the head of the Department for Building Management in Sinsheim and the Energie-Raum-Architektur engineering firm. Department head Tobias Schutz of the city administration and Daniel Ziebold of the engineering firm spoke to the student teams about the plans for the upcoming renovation of the Sinsheim civic center. The meeting made it clear that measures to optimize energy usage and improve energy efficiency have top priority.

Twelfth-graders from the Wilhelmi Gymnasium prepared a mobility study under the guidance of SLN experts. The study centered on an empirical analysis of visitor flows at the Sinsheim pool and spa. The students looked at the means of transportation used by visitors, as well as examining whether they took the opportunity to visit other attractions in Sinsheim. This analysis could be useful to the municipality in developing attractive services for tourists on day trips or short breaks. Another class focused on the “Ecology of a Natural Region,” looking at changes in the flora and fauna of a nature conservation area which now borders on an industrial and business park in Sinsheim.

A class of ninth-graders from Kraichgau Realschule also participated in the project, focusing on public transportation as illustrated by the example of the Sinsheim city bus service. Working with the Steinbeis Innovation Center and the Sinsheim Municipal Regulations Office, the student teams examined the attractiveness of public transportation services in Sinsheim city center. The students surveyed passers-by in downtown Sinsheim, bus passengers and bus drivers. Municipal representatives were also involved. In the planning phase of the activities, students were shown a city bus equipped with the latest technology for improving energy efficiency.

The practice-based focal areas form the basis for long-term activities involving participating schools and the municipality. Ongoing dialog with employees in the municipal administration helps creates a network between all participants. This approach ensures that knowledge is not only transferred from the schools into actual practice, but that direct feedback also flows in the other direction at the same time. Both the students and the professionals benefit.

Initiated by the Steinbeis Innovation Center, the project is funded by the Baden-Wurttemberg Ministry of Environment, Climate and Energy using lottery revenues. The lead partner of the project is the Baden-Wurttemberg Department of Environment, Measurement and Nature Conservation.

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