Aerospace Summer School 2011

The ASA mentors young students for a week and organizes visits to different locations for the aerospace industry, among them the Institute for Space Systems at the University of Stuttgart or the German Aerospace Center in Lampoldshausen. For more detailed information refer to the news coverage by local newspapers.

Cramming mathematics, building rockets

(Böblinger Zeitung, Ina Kraft)

Marc Groß, student of the Johannes-Widmann-Schule in Maichingen, does not need tutoring for the main subjects . The 13-year old is top of the class. “That’s what my teacher says as well” Marc assures. Because he is interested in aerospace engineering, however, he applied for a place in the summer school.

Since yesterday morning he goes to the school that is located on the Goldberg. With him 29 other almost eighth graders from 16 secondary and technical schools of the whole district Böblingen do the same. Almost 60 boys and girls have applied for this project, after selection interviews with the state Education Office 30 students were successful. The project is carried out at 26 locations nationwide and is supposed to improve the students’ knowledge in mathematics, German and English, to close possible gaps and to acquire interdisciplinary competences.

However, the summer school is more than just some sort of tutoring place during vacation. What makes the project so special is its cooperation partners who offer additional activities. In the summer school within the district of Böblingen cooperation not only exists with the state Education Office and the in-depth career orientation organization (Vertiefte Berufsorientierung, VBO) but also with the German Aerospace Academy which is located on the airfield since this summer. “We want to focus on rocket building this week”, Prof. Dr. Monika Auweter-Kurtz makes a promise to the students.

The director of the Academy wants to encourage the young people to be fascinated by the aerospace engineering. This area, she assures, not only offers high school graduates or college students many opportunities. “In the aerospace industry almost everything is produced individually/built in one piece production processes, so skillful craftsmen as well as technicians are required.” She could imagine offering similar activities like these in the summer school to young students at the Academy as well. “However, this is what you need sponsors for”.

For the 13-year old Marc the highlight undoubtedly happened yesterday afternoon: “Building rockets – that’s what I was looking forward the most”, he says. Subsequently, the rockets had to pass the real-life test. “Outside”, promised Monika Auweter-Kurtz with a sideways glance to Dietmut Rebmann. The principal of the Goldberg primary and technical school made the premises available to the summer school.

Visit to Sensapolis and the University of Stuttgart

Because one learns best by trying things out – Auweter-Kurtz believes – the students rarely sit in school during the afternoons. On today’s Tuesday a visit to the Institute of Space Propulsion in Lampoldshausen is on the program. “Giant rockets” and a laboratory await the students there. A visit to the Sensapolis and the University of Stuttgart are further extras. Doctoral candidates show their research projects and answer curious questions.

They are not the only ones taking care of Marc and his mates. The teaching is done by teachers of the Oskar-Schwenk-Schule in Waldenbuch and by employees of the in-depth career orientation organization (VBO). Among other things they show them how to be successful in their applications and what a good presentation looks like – which is what the boys and girls can practice directly. For they will present what they experienced and learned at their respective schools as soon as school starts again.

“The summer school has loads of things to offer”, says Angela Huber, director of the state Education Office. This is what Marc and the others hope as well. Even teaching in the mornings – the curriculum covered mathematics – was fun. Why? “Somehow it was different. Really interesting.”



Students build rockets and learn at the same time

(Leonberger Kreiszeitung, Günter Scheinpflug)

Böblingen. 30 Werkrealschüler (students of a technical-oriented school) o the district close knowledge gaps in the summer school and learn about aerospace. The high demand for the vacation course surprised the responsible organizers. In the last week of summer vacation the program not only features mathematics, German and English. The students are supposed to get some new ideas and have fun learning again, says Angela Huber, the director of the state Education Office.

Ms. Huber, do 15-year old students still like to build toy rockets?

The young people were building rockets with great enthusiasm. Many of them didn’t know that effervescent tablet and water produces gas that lets the rockets fly four meters into the air. I think that 15-year olds want to try new things. This rocket test made everyone happy.

Not everyone wants to study during the summer vacation, do they?

A summer school is not meant to be exclusively educational. Of course, better knowledge of the main subjects like German, mathematics and English is important. Our approach, however, is to show the students: What words do I need to understand the English terms in the aerospace industry? What mathematical formula and physical laws do I need to know in order to calculate a flying object?

How big is the interest in this offer?

We advertised the summer school in the whole district. We had 60 applications. That’s a surprising high number. We could only take half of them.

What was the selection process? Did you only pick the “geeks”?

No, there were also applications from weaker students. There were selection interviews as well and the students were asked about their motivation. We took grades into account as well though.

Is one summer school within the district not like the proverbial drop in the ocean?

Students from primary and secondary schools (Haupt- und Werkrealschüler) surely need a lot of support and encouragement. The Ministry of Education and Cultural Affairs promotes this event with 8.000 euro. Additionally, the teaching load of four teachers who applied voluntarily is recognized. Overall, this means six hours of the teaching load. We can imagine further such offers for the students in the district of course. This has to be decided upon in the Ministry and probably in political committees as well.

You want to create a career opportunity for the technical students as well. Is there anyone participating who would actually have the chance to become an aviation engineer?

I believe only few of the 15-year olds have thought about that yet. This is probably also true for most of the young students no matter what type of school they’re in. First and foremost they ask themselves what they’re interested in. They do not think about career opportunities right away. Qualified people are needed everywhere, craftsmen work in the aerospace industry, too. There are different training courses. Moreover, a technical student can later change to a vocational Gymnasium (college) and can study afterwards. At the opening of the summer school I said to all students that everyone can go very far if they want to.

What aim does the summer school focus on?

The students are supposed to tackle as many learning deficits as possible and to enjoy learning again. The important thing is that everyone sets him/herself a target that they want to reach. With the summer school we want to show that the effort is worth it. And we want to give them new ideas, for example by taking them to the Institute of Space Propulsion in Lampoldshausen. We hope that this will be an experience that impacts their motivation long after the summer school is over. Is the normal school not doing enough in this respect? I wouldn’t say that. But we are glad that this additional offer exists. Especially since we hope that the participation will reinforce the self-esteem of the students.

Do students lack enough recognition?

Yes, we do have one student with a migrant background and have to overcome language deficits. I think we have to get back to a better culture of recognition. There is no the “Hauptschüler” or “Werkrealschüler”. Everyone has their own set of personality and skills that have to be promoted. It is necessary to overcome prejudices. We as society bear responsibility for this. We have to give these young people a chance.