Theorie, Schule oder doch lieber Fab Lab? Gelingensbedingungen guter MINT-Bildung

Anfang März sind wir im Rahmen des Projekts EnvironMINT (BMBF: Gelingensbedingungen guter MINT-Bildung) nach Kamp-Lintfort am Niederrhein gereist. Zusammen mit unseren Kollegen der Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg und der Hochschule Rhein-Waal haben wir bei einer 3-tägigen Workshopreihe untersucht, was Kinder und Jugendliche zu Fab Labs hinzieht und was sie davon abhält. Die knapp 100 Kinder eines Gymnasiums vor Ort haben uns durch die Teilnahme bei Kreativ-Workshops, Fokusgruppen und Interviews dabei geholfen, ihren Alltag besser zu verstehen. Dabei haben wir sehr viel von den SchülerInnen gelernt.

Was interessiert die Kinder und Jugendlichen eigentlich? Wie sollten man Workshops gestalten, die Spaß machen und lehrreich sind? Was schreckt ab? Wie sieht der Alltag so aus?

Nach einer Führung durch das FabLab Kamp-Lintfort – Hochschule Rhein-Waal und einer kleinen IoT-Demonstration mit unseren Goodies durften sie selbst ran und ausprobieren. Dabei waren unter anderem ein selbstgedrucktes und -gebautes Mikroskop, ein ferngesteuerter Malroboter mit dem Calliope Mini, ein Synthesizer-Kit von littleBits und viele coole andere Sachen.

Wir werden im weiteren Verlauf auch mit LehrerInnen, MakerInnen und Eltern sprechen, um besser zu verstehen, wie coole MINT-Angebote aussehen sollen und was die Hürden für alle Beteiligten sind. Am Ende des Tages gestalten wir die Konzepte ja nicht für uns – sondern die Menschen die es betrifft.

A Suitcase Filled With Heart

At the beginning there is a story. A reappraisal of feeling, put into words and released into the world. “Du dunkles Herz” (“You dark Heart”) by Tobias Gruseck comes as an appealing red booklet and is a story about a suitcase full of money that darkens hearts. But promoting literature depends on more than the content of the text. A myth around it is good, maybe an eccentric author, a scandal. Or a suitcase, in it: hearts. If you touch one of the hearts, or the oak leaf next to it, you suddenly hear voices. Text passages that match the object touched resound softly and wonderfully recited from the case and make you want to listen to the story.

A story is told here with multimedia and attention to detail

Jenny and Simon took on the presentation of the work and built the suitcase. Wired inside is a touch board from Bare Conductive® that is connected via conductive yarn to things that are historically significant and, in some cases, 3D printed. Touching the thread closes the circuit and the text passages stored on the chip and previously recorded with virtuosity are played.

Literature as a haptic experience

All this was first presented in Bad Säckingen at “Kunst trifft Handwerk,” an annual outdoor event at the picturesque Trompeterschlößchen, where Germany and Switzerland bundled streams of tourists before the pandemic moved in. The title of the event also fits perfectly with this haptic project, which combines literary effusion with gifted tinkering. Currently on display at Fab Lab Siegen.

“Garbage – Environment – Design” – With Art Against Littering

As part of the cooperation project “Garbage – Environment – Design“, Sarah and Marios, two of our students, travelled to Palestine last year in September. The two-week project, organised by the Goethe-Institut in Ramallah, was intended to counteract the throwaway culture in public spaces from Europe that prevails there and to build a bridge between consumption and art. For this purpose, approaches of “upcycling” should be used, which make something new out of something old.

Two students each from Germany, France and Palestine were involved in the intercultural project and designed the exhibition and built matching exhibits in a workshop. During the ten-day stay on site, prototypes were to be produced collaboratively from everyday objects through upcycling in order to draw attention to everyday environmental problems. The project benefited from the input of other Palestinian and international experts from the fields of design, art, education and architecture.

The material such as pallets, Yton stones and plastic bottles were picked up directly from the street and were only a part of the countless resources used.
An example of the effective use of materials are the hanging gardens consisting of two green bottle walls planted with mint, which were set up to welcome exhibition visitors at the main entrance of the Goethe Institute. The results were exhibited in the Franco-German cultural area for intercultural discussion and experimentation.

In addition, during the students’ visit to Palestine, the action day “Art and Consumption” took place, in which the residents were to actively and collectively clear a piece of land of rubbish and litter.

The aim of the project was to communicate civil rights, but above all civic duties, and to mobilise local young people in particular to take on civic responsibility. Among others, the project was carried out in cooperation with Vecbox, the first Palestinian Makerspace, who brought local expertise.

Sarah and Marios were already able to draw on experience gained in the West Bank through the Yallah cooperation and exchange project in April last year, as well as through the come_IN project.

Thursday 13.2, 7 pm: Lecture “FabLab Maya – Can Technology Help Preserve Traditions?”

On Thursday (13 February) Christian will give a talk about Fab Lab Maya at 7pm. Christian visited Fab Lab Maya in the Mexican jungle and would like to tell us about it. There they try to support the local population and traditions with modern technologies.
The title of the lecture is “FabLab Maya – Can technology help to preserve traditions?


  • Admission is free!
  • When: Thursday, 13 February 2020
  • Start: 7 pm
  • Where: Fab Lab, Herrengarten 2, 57072 Siegen

Visit from Mascat (Oman) to Fab Lab Siegen

On 22 November, we had a visit from a delegation from the German University of Technology (GUTech) in Mascat, Oman with 20 mostly female students of technical disciplines and two teachers.

The delegation was interested in the concept, implementation and benefits of Fab Labs at universities, as we are pursuing in Siegen.
Prof. Dr. Volkmar Pipek, Director of the Fab Lab on this:

“We are very interested in sharing our experiences in setting up and running a Fab Lab and networking with Fab Labs worldwide.”

As you may have noticed, we have several international partnerships, such as the YALLAH exchange with universities in Palestine and Gaza, the Global Innovation Gathering network and Greece Communitere.

Prof. Pipek also emphasised again how important a lab is for exchange, the acquisition of knowledge and also for intercultural understanding. Prof. Pipek continues:

“In addition to implementing vocational qualification pathways, Fab Labs also serve as learning sites for technical skills for the population and can thus make an important contribution to democratising technical knowledge in all countries and cultures.”

There are more than 1700 Fab Labs worldwide. Discussions are currently taking place to support the establishment of a Fab Lab at GUTech in Mascat by the University of Siegen.

Fab Lab Siegen in Regensburg – A Makerspace at the Mensch und Computer Conference 2017

What do four people do with a station wagon, a lot of luggage, various boxes full of stuff, a 3D printer, virtual reality equipment, moderation cases and toolboxes? – Right. Play Tetris.

On Saturday, 09.09.2017 in the afternoon we packed some of the most beautiful treasures and a little hardware from the Fab Lab and headed to Regensburg to the Mensch und Computer (MuC) Conference, which took place from 10-13 September 2017. Interested parties and experts from the fields of human computer interaction, user experience and usability meet there every year. Not only professors, researchers and students can exchange their research results and projects, but also representatives of different companies and developers are on site to make contacts, gather inspiration and inform themselves.

The focus of such a conference is on submitted written contributions in the form of scientific papers and posters on a specific topic, the contents of which are presented as presentations. In addition, workshops will be held. Fab Lab Siegen should be represented in such a workshop. In keeping with the theme of the conference, “Interacting easily through play”, we decided to have an open Makerspace that could be visited at any time on one of the conference days.

Together with committed members from Hackspace Regensburg – the Binary Kitchen – we transformed the drab concrete look of the conference building at the University of Regensburg into a colourful and flashing place on Monday, inviting people to interactively find out about Fab Labs, Hackspaces and Maker Culture between coffee and lectures. Under the motto “Make – Hack – Learn – Share”, visitors were able to create 3D models in virtual reality, which they could then either place in the real world as augmented reality holograms using the Microsoft HoloLens or even print out using the 3D printers. Different exhibits and projects from the Fab Lab caused general amazement and interest. However, the many lighting gimmicks of the Binary Kitchen have also attracted the most attention. In a mini-soldering experience, the conferees were able to assemble their own flashing clothes peg.

The Makerspace was represented at the Mensch und Computer conference for the first time and was a great success. The visitors were enthusiastic and after the positive feedback we hopefully were not there the last time.

Yallah – You All Are Hackers

“YALLAH- You all are hackers” is an international exchange and cooperation project between the University of Siegen and Birzeit University in the West Bank in Palestine. The project is funded by the DAAD program “University Dialogue with the Islamic World” and will be implemented for the first time in 2016. In two exchange phases of four weeks each, ten students from one university visit the other country. In addition to getting to know the region, culture and people, it is also about working together on projects that focus on local issues. The goal is the joint development of creative and sustainable approaches to solutions, in the implementation of which the students also make use of digital fabrication methods, which happens, for example, in the Fab Lab Siegen or in and around (hack/maker/*) spaces in Palestine.


As part of the first exchange phase, ten students and two staff members of the University of Siegen traveled to the West Bank this April, excited and full of expectations. After an initial orientation phase with many new impressions, all students from both universities brainstormed together to develop project groups dedicated to the various problems and possible solutions.

One project group, for example, dealt with the computer club in the refugee camp “Al-Amari”, which on the one hand aims to promote intercultural exchange between Palestinians and refugees on site, and on the other hand offers a collaborative and playful addition to the limited educational opportunities in refugee camps. The club was already established in 2013 as part of research work for the come_in project. The students first took care of repairing the infrastructure on site and developing new workshop ideas with the available resources. Afterwards, several workshops were held with children, in which they were taught the simple basics of electrical engineering so that they could directly build their own first circuits. Even after the first exchange phase, the on-site workshops are still continuing.

Another project group dedicated to the (plastic) waste problem frequently found in the Middle East (as in so many parts of the world) developed, among other things, the first prototypes of edible cutlery made of dough and conducted a study on plastic bag consumption in supermarkets. Another project team built a small garden in the refugee camp under the title “Urban Gardening”, for which, among other things, plastic bottles were recycled as watering cans and planters. The individual groups repeatedly made use of principles of hacker and maker culture in their projects.

But outside of the projects, there were other points of contact with hacker and maker culture, as well as with digital fabrication opportunities on the ground. For example, students participated in an Arduino workshop at the first Palestinian hackspace, Vecbox. In addition, students and staff from Siegen, who are currently also actively involved in setting up our Fab Lab, held several 3D printing workshops at the university, where not only were the basics of 3D printing taught, but the participants also designed and printed their own first 3D models together. As a prerequisite to holding the workshop, the available 3D printer was also collaboratively maintained and serviced. In the course of this, the university partners of the University of Siegen were also able to advise a professor on site on the purchase of a new 3D printer.

During the four weeks on site, the students experienced a lot. A lasting impression was left in particular by the strong contrasts between innovation and tradition that are lived out locally. For example, a horse plowed a field right next to the Hackspace, where innovative technologies like 3D printers are used.

In summary, a trend toward innovation via a community-oriented hacker and maker culture – as in many places around the world – is also evident in Palestine. However, the development, elaboration and dissemination of these trends, which ultimately also have a great deal to do with self-determination, are always faced with major challenges. Yallah is one piece of the puzzle of many in the establishment of global collaborations at eye level, in which creativity, self-determination and the use of (digital and distributed) fabrication methods play important roles. In August, the second exchange phase begins, which will take place in Germany and during which the students also want to further develop their solution approaches at our Fab Lab. You can read detailed reports about the experiences during the exchange so far on the project’s blog.