This is how sustainability works!

School students explore aspects of sustainability in Kraichgau

We bump into “sustainability” everywhere nowadays. But most of the time, sustainability is not always pursued in the truest sense of the word. Just the impetus the Steinbeis Innovation Center for Logistics and Sustainability needed to implement the “School students exploring and transferring sustainability in Kraichgau (NiK)” project. The scheme involved two school classes each (8th and 9th grade) at four schools in Baden-Wuerttemberg, from Bruchsal, Bad Rappenau, Eppingen and Sinsheim. The project was sponsored by the Baden- Wuerttemberg Ministry for Environment, Climate and Energy and the lottery organizer GlücksSpirale. The students visited neighboring cities to get an overview of existing or upcoming activities related to sustainability.

The project focused on seven spheres of action, each corresponding to a different category. Groups of four students were assigned to each category. During the first step, Jens-Jochen Roth, Director of the Steinbeis Innovation Center, taught the students the fundamentals of the four dimensions of sustainability with various learning modules on economy, ecology and society. To maximize learning, students received, for example, concrete tasks to be completed in groups and presented in front of the entire class. Internet research was another component.

To prepare the subsequent empirical part of the project, each group created question guidelines centered on the various themes within the different spheres of action. The questions were then fine-tuned in an interactive discussion with the students during the class. The question guidelines served as an investigation aid for implementation.

During a field trip day, each class visited one of the neighboring cities. Then they carried out the project in the form of interviews with passers-by, expert interviews with employees in the city administration, key local decision-makers, representatives of the appropriate forestry offices, as well as other experts. After the empirical part of the project was complete, the results were pooled together by city and evaluated. The children presented their results to the representatives of the different city administrations as part of a culminating event in Sinsheim.

With this project, the Steinbeis Innovation Center for Logistics and Sustainability in Sinsheim gave young people the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the topic of sustainability through practical know-how transfer. The project marked the first attempt to integrate sustainability into the classroom at the Realschule level (secondary education). “The children were really interested and contributed actively to the project. The field days, in particular, demonstrated that the schoolchildren could absorb countless impressions on sustainability via practical activities on site, and that they were able to take these ideas with them,” says Jens-Jochen Roth.

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