The learning factory
„A child is like a scientist. They create tasks for themselves and search for solutions. They are able to learn by themselves.“ The kindergarten „Campus Adlershof“, which opened last year in November, lives by this basic idea of progressive educationist Loris Malaguzzi.In a knowledge-based society like ours, independent learning is more important than ever before – this is not just the case in childhood, learning is a life-long effort. Germany‘s most advanced technology park supports this by offering various possibilities of education.
“Reggio-education was founded by Malaguzzi in the Italian town Reggio Emilia, 40 years ago,” explains Melanie Ehnert, the director of the kindergarten. The children should develop their creativity as much as possible by using natural materials like pine cones, stones or leaves. A “science box”, supplied by Siemens Corporation, provides children with sort of first contact with the natural sciences. During the “Long Night of the Sciences”, the kindergarten hosted several experiments, together with the Spatzennest (Sparrow’s nest), the second kindergarten in Adlershof.
This year’s “Long Night” welcomed a good 33,000 visitors at 30 different Adlershof institutes and companies. The attractions offered by the science park ranged from a tugof war against gigantic CO2-molecules to experiments with perception at a psychological lab. For the first time, visitors could be live witnesses to the installation of a solar power system on the roof of the Institute for Photonics and Optical Technologies. At the end of September, the annual “Tage der Forschung” (“Research days”) will offer secondary school students unusual experiments, organised by the WISTA-MANAGEMENT GMBH, the network of non-university affiliated research institutes (IGAFA) as well as Humboldt-University of Berlin (HU). Nearly 8,000 students and approximately 1,000 employees make Adlershof Campus the vibrant centre of the technology park. Established between 1998 and 2003, the institutes for chemistry, geography, computer sciences mathematics, physics and psychology offer topclass conditions for learning and research.
“The Research Days have such a long tradition that I keep meeting scientists at our institutes whose interest in Adlershof arose from visiting this event,” says Ursula Westphal, director of the IGAFA science office. Two of Adlerhof’s facilities are particularly concerned with developing emerging talents: at the training workshop of the HU, young people can learn to become precision engineers. A rotation schedule takes them to various special workshops of the corresponding institutes. In doing so, they acquire a broad training, endowing them with high skills in their field. Roughly 150 young people apply for the five available places. The “pro-MANO” association, run by several companies and research institutes in Adlershof, attends to the profession of the micro-system technicians. By employing additional specialised teachers, apprentices in semi conductor companies based in Adlershof will receive a broader training. Finally, summer courses at various institutes offer further educaton not just for students, but also for employees.
Not just residents, but also hundreds of international visitors learn from Adlershof by attending one of the guided tours offered by Adlershof con.vent, which last up to three days. On these tours, Adlershof experts answer any question posed by their visitors – whether it’s a representative of a medium-sized company or a Saudi-Arabian prince.
by Wolfgang Richter