RM@Schools project teams up with Fraunhofer IFAM for the first Talent RM@Schools initiative

Since 2008, the Fraunhofer IFAM, an applied research institute in Bremen, Germany, has been offering several, still ongoing programs to attract teenagers to STEM subjects, to foster their interest and/or to train them in this field or to motivate them to choose STEM subjects in academic education.

One example is the “Fraunhofer-Talent-School”- program, which stands for three-day-workshops once a year, open to teenagers from 14 to 19 (German 9th to 13th grade) who are interested in STEM subjects. 15 Fraunhofer Institutes across Germany offer these workshops, supported by Fraunhofer headquarters. Participants learn and work for three days in Fraunhofer labs. STEM subjects turn around the core competences of the institutes in charge. At the end of these three days, participants have to perform a team presentation showing their “learning portfolio” of these three days.

On 7-9 October 2019, the first international TalentRM@Schools took place at Fraunhofer IFAM in Bremen. 16 students from Estonia, Italy, Austria and Germany as well as eight teachers came to Bremen to learn and work on the topic of fibre-reinforced composites (FRP). The main focus here was on the question: Raw materials and sustainability: what can fibre reinforced plastics contribute? In addition to the composite workshop and the lab work, teachers and students got insights in how to set up and manage a project, how work packages can be defined, costs calculated and risks assessed. Under these auspices, students were challenged to design a clipboard, through the use of bio-based and/or recycled materials. 

The student teams took the project task home with them, the results of which they were due to present during a further workshop at IFAM in March 2020.

The COVID-19 crisis disrupted these plans. After a rescheduling and a further cancellation, the students were finally given the opportunity to present their projects online on 9 November 2020, during the “Online TalentRM@Schools finals”. Not only could the planned workshop not take place as planned, but also the work on the projects was made difficult or even impossible for most teams due to the closure of schools across Europe.

However, of the five teams who started, four teams finished the project and three teams with their teachers could attend the meeting. And the results were so amazing that four main prizes were awarded.

The judges were highly impressed with the quality of the entries, video summaries of which can be seen on YouTube: Bologna teamRDR team, Milan team, GIM team.

As a follow-up action, a train-the-trainer session will be held at the RM@Schools conference, bringing the TalentRM@Schools model to more countries and schools!