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Continuation of the STE(A)M Programme at the Humboldt Cosmos Multiversity in Tenerife

STEM is the abbreviation for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, i.e. the combination of four disciplines that are of crucial importance for the future shaping of society and the economy. With A in the acronym STEAM, “the Arts” is added as a further discipline. The idea behind this is that the design of future complex technical systems, such as those made possible by computer science in particular, requires the creativity and inspiration of the arts in order to develop new ideas, products and services that will shape our future lives. There is great hope that the artistic aspect could also motivate more women to become involved in modern technological design processes. To date, the STEM disciplines have been dominated by men.

The German education company FESTO DIDACTIC offers a special approach to STEM and STEAM: Learning Bionics, a word combination of biology and “technics”. This means that technical systems are constructed based on models from nature. (Note: FESTO DIDACTIC’s parent company, FESTO, is active in the field of industrial automation). FESTO DIDACTIC publishes learning kits for learning bionics, which are used to familiarise schoolchildren with the construction of “natural” technical systems and teach them the variety of techniques to be used. Examples of bionic learning objects include the elephant’s trunk as a robotic arm or the chameleon as a model for a versatile “gripper” for picking up objects. All of these objects can be controlled using smartphone software that can be downloaded from the Internet.

After the Humboldt Cosmos Multiversity had already offered a first STEM course in Sta. Cruz de Tenerife in 2020 – see the website – 16 teachers from as many schools in Tenerife gathered at the CEP (Centro del Profesorado), the official teacher training institute in La Laguna, at the beginning of April 2024 to familiarise themselves with bionics and STE(A)M technology. Each of the participants was given a brief introduction by FESTO DIDACTIC representative Simone Schmid and then received a bionics kit as a gift from FESTO, via the Tenerife-based Humboldt Cosmos Multiversity, under its President Prof. Günter Koch, who was also present. Over the course of an afternoon, the participants were able to assemble one of three possible objects under the guidance of the workshop leader and also teacher, Pedro Real. Due to time constraints, most of them constructed a fish with a movable tail fin, which they were then able to try out in a small pool. The session was accompanied by Mrs. María Dolores Oliva from the CEP.

The mood among the participants was exceptionally good in view of the successful completion of the handicrafts and everyone went back to their schools with their bionics construction kit, motivated to spread the idea of STEM / STEAM and especially the approach via bionics among their pupils. It is hoped that, inspired by STEAM and bionics, these pupils will one day be able to master the interplay of many creative, artistic ideas and their implementation in technological solutions and thus contribute to the progress of the economy in the Canary Islands.