The BMW Group created its Junior Campus more than 12 years ago. Locations in Munich, Berlin, Moscow and South Korea get children and teenagers excited about the technology of the future – with a unique focus on ideas for a sustainable world.
“Yay! It’s grabbing!” Julia is one of three children on a newly formed team of developers. Together with classmates Steven and Mascha, she just built and programmed her first robot. Now, the small robot made out of building bricks has to make its way over to a small block, pick up the piece with its three five-centimetre-long gripper arms and bring it over to a miniature building site at the other end of the table: The grabbing part works – but the arms keep missing the target. Mascha gives the robot a helping hand by nudging the brick a little bit closer, but they soon agree: “It has to do it all by itself!” – because now their ambition has been awakened. It’s never too early to start building robots and programming software – or gain an understanding and mastery of technology.
With meticulous attention to detail, the young team has just taught its first app-controlled robot how to perform a task. The youngsters are part of a class of schoolchildren visiting the Junior Campus inside BMW Welt in Munich to learn about future technologies and sustainable mobility. For the past 12 years, classes mostly from Munich and the surrounding areas have signed up for various age-appropriate workshops and interacted with exhibits to immerse themselves in the world of green electricity, the “inventions” of nature and globality. Full involvement is required, since many of the “worlds of knowledge” engage both the mind and body, as well as building team spirit.
More than 210,000 children and teenagers have visited the Junior Campus in Munich since it opened in 2007. The concept is so exciting, so entertaining and educational that the BMW Group has established other Junior Campus locations around the world: In January 2012, it opened a second facility inside the German Museum of Technology in Berlin. In South Korea, a mobile version of the Junior Campus has been sparking children’s interest in science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics since 2012; a permanent location was added in 2014. The Junior Campus in Moscow has also made an important contribution towards improving road safety for children since 2013. All content is geared towards the school curriculum and country-specific requirements.
“We strongly believe that children and teenagers need a good education to be able to make their own way in the world. That’s why we promote training in STEM subjects and make schoolchildren more aware of sustainable mobility and social responsibility,” explains Milena Pighi, responsible for social commitment at the BMW Group.
Because the BMW Group’s educational projects like the Junior Campus make it fun to understand technology or learn about road safety and sustainable mobility, teachers and parents – but, especially, the children – are happy to take advantage of these opportunities. Offerings are constantly improved with input from teachers and expanded to include new content.
In Munich, two new programming workshops have been added in recent months: “Mission Ozobots” allows teams of primary-school-aged children to programme a small “Ozobot”, a robot guided using colour sensors. And in “Mission Tinkerbots”, children 13 and under use an app developed specially for the workshop to programme a robot to perform various missions independently: from a (virtually) self-driving car to a paint robot that draws semicircles so perfect it could almost replace the classroom compass, all the way to a load-carrying robot that can transport small building bricks – like Julia, Steven and Mascha’s robot. Another group had the idea of lifting up a little figure and carrying it to its bed. Because, after all, tomorrow is just another school day. What better way to combine technology and learning?