Congratulations! This Entry has been selected as a semifinalist.

Geschichtomat: Discover Jewish History

Hamburg, GermanyHamburg, Germany
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
$50,000 - $100,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

As part of school projects students walk in their neighborhood in search of Jewish history. They are researching in archives, visit museums or lead interviews. As journalists they produce films, texts and photo stories that they locate on the digital map online

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

jewish history lessons would represent the ideas and questions of young people?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

There are still many prejudices regarding Jews in Germany and the history lessons in schools still are very limited focussing only on one part of German history, which is the time of the second world war. Many students do not know anything about Jewish culture or they do not know that the culture is still alive. Another problem is that history lessons often do not connect to the interests of young people and tend to be boring.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Schools can book the Geschichtomat team and equipment. It requires no further preparation. The use of new media and the practical work allows the students to find their own access to Jewish history and culture. The participating teacher accompanies the project educationally but is not responsible for the professional and technical support. In small groups, students research places of Jewish life in their neighborhood, or browse through historical documents. They produce movies and stories and upload their results on the Geschichtomat site. The students are supported professionally by the project team. The necessary technical equipment (iPads, photo, video cameras, cutting machines) are provided by the team and brought to the classroom.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Schools in future will work together with external experts

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

The impact is to encourage schools to work together with external experts and thus through cultural education create a completly different setting for learning. Furthermore technical equipment is used in a creative way to design history lessons. This will inspire an innovative way of using technical equipment in other lessons as well. In this case it is a hands-on approach to history which has an even larger impact on German society because it is an extraordinary innovative way to get young people involved in history. They learn that history matters, by creating their own stories. After the successfull prototyping an the testing in different schools, the next step is to optimize the project design and then test it in even more schools. More team membes have to be trained and the website will be programmed to make the project available in more cities in Germany.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

The project can be scaled with reagard to the learning content as well as reagarding the number of schools taking advantage of this innovative learning experience. And of course it is not limited geographically. In this first step of prototyping xx schools and xx students have participated in the project. Within the next 5 years Geschichtomat will be launched in 3 more states in Germany. A number of xx schools and xx students will have participated in the project.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

This project has fixed costs for the coordination and project development and variable costs relating to the number of realised project weeks in schools. The amount is raised by foundations, sponsorship and a part funding of the participating schools. The financing of increasing the number of project weeks, the expansion into more states and the technical development is realised by a gouvernmental innovation fund.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Just few other programmes are bringing Jewish history into the classroom. One of it is JMB on.tour a mobile version of the Jewish Museum Berlin which was invented by the founder of Geschichtomat, too. The difference is, that Geschichtomat is not bound to a single institution and thus can be implemented easily by different partners. There is no other project dealing with innovation in learning about Jewish history in Germany using new media and a technical approach. Geschichtomat was mentioned to be the best example of using Google Maps in a visually appealing and engaging manner.

Founding Story

It all started with a street sign. One day I passed a street named Oskar-Troplowitz-Street in Hamburg. Me knowing a lot about this person I started to ask people around what they knew abot this man. Do you know something about the famous co-inventor of the self-adhesive dressing plaste and the skin cream called Nivea? The idea of location based learning and uncovering the history hidden in the streets was born. With regard to jewish history and culture it is even more important to point to various aspects of historical persons and places and it should be made available to more people. So a tool to make history alive where it happend was born. This in my view was the perfect way to work with students and thus innovate history lessons.


Dr. Stephanie Kowitz-Harms, Project Coordinator, Lina Nikou, Project Assistant Kristina Thoms, Producer and in cooperation with Institut für die Geschichte der deutschen Juden and JAF - Verein für medienpädagogische Praxis Hamburg e.V. further team support of our partners. There a three senior advisors. Since the beginning of the project the team is growing and with the geographically expansion new team members will be trained.
About You
atelier für gesellschaftsgestaltung
About You
First Name


Last Name


About Your Project
Organization Name

atelier für gesellschaftsgestaltung

How long has your organization been operating?

Please select

Organization Country

, HH, Hamburg

Country where this project is creating social impact

, HH, Hamburg

What awards or honors has the project received?
Funding: How is your project financial supported?

Foundations, NGOs, Businesses, Regional government, Other.

Primary Target Age Group

6 - 12, 13 - 17.

Your role in Education


Please specify which of the following best applies:

I am applying on behalf of a particular program or initiative.

The type of school(s) your solution is affiliated with (if applicable)

Public (tuition-free).

Intervention Focus

Curricular, Extracurricular, other.

Does your project utilize any of the innovative design principles below?

Actively Designing Space & Culture as Essential Elements for Learning: Creating cost-effective methods to infuse a school with habits, language, and materials needed for learning through play.

Is your project targeted at solving any of the following key barriers?

One size fits all fits none: Students are disengaged and not being prepared for "real life."





What key learning outcomes does your work seek to improve?

Reconcilation, creativity, history learning, using of technology and media to playfully facilitate access to cultural heritage, intercultural learning, knowledge and meaning of local history, media-production, team-spirit, project work, self-determination

Secondary Form
PROGRAM DESIGN CLARITY: We are hungry to know more about what exactly your model consists of. Please succinctly list a) what main activities are you doing with your beneficiaries, b) where you carry out the activities? c) how often? d) for how many hours? e) who delivers the services? and f) any other brief details

a) We support the school students to explore and research the history of Jewish life, questioning witnesses and to study historical documents. We help them to produce presentations through video, photographs and text and to ad them to the online multimedia guide.
b) In the district of the school and in the classroom
c) For the duration of a project week
d) 30
e) Media and culture educators
f) The students have been involved even in the conception of the project. Thus we could insure that the project design alows the best possible learning experience.

INSPIRATION: What do you consider the most important trends or evidence that inspire you to believe the world is ready to Re-imagine Learning? Please elaborate.

Social change and innovation through technology is advancing faster and requires a flexible approach to new developments and issues. Due to the rapid development new professions are emerging faster. Learning these days means to learn constantly. The school can provide important impulses for lifelong learning. Another important evidence is the fact that more and more young school students decline the traditional system and even refuse school knowing that it is not supporting the growth of their potentials.

LEARNING THROUGH PLAY: What does “learning through play” mean to you and why it is a must-have, instead of a nice to have?

Creativity, flexibility, empathy and a solution oriented approach are key competences which are not provided in a rigid teaching model, but with a new transdisciplinary learning culture in schools. Playful learning means learning with all senses. It is scientifically proven that the things we learn in a playful way memorize better. Through play for example, we learn to overcome boundaries, as we learn to know ourselves better. We learn the production steps. We take responsibility. Playing touches many skills: use of language, and technology as well as organisational skills.

SUSTAINABILITY: Please list a quick breakdown of your funding, indicating the percentage that comes from each source.

Project Development costs = 88.500 EUR
Own resources = 34 %
Foundations = 66 %

Project costs for 2014/2015 128.850 EUR
Staff = 99.100 EUR
Investment = 12.700 EUR
Material = 17.050 EUR

Governmental = 52%
Foundations = 48 %

MODEL: How does your mission relate to your business model (i.e. Non-profit, for-profit or hybrid)?

As a non-profit organisation we are providing an aditional educational experience for school students. It is important for us to make available the technical equipment and material as well as the technical plattform for the students free of charge.

FUNDING PRIORITIES: If your organization were given $20K in unrestricted funding today, how would you use it? Why?

As the fix costs and the costs for the project week are funded for the next development phase we would invest the amount into teaching material. This would help us to multiply our idea and make it available to more schools.

Furthermore we would use it to optimize our self-evaluation tool.

PARTNERSHIPS: Tell us about your partnerships that enhance your approach.

As we are offering our project as teaching units within regular schooltime we do have a strong cooperation with the ministry of education and the specialists for the school subjects our project is related to. Furthermore we work together with the institute for teacher education. We partner as well with cultural institutions as for example the museum or history workshops and different Jewish instiitutions to connect the schools in their districts.

COLLABORATIONS: Have you considered or initiated partnerships with any of the other Challenge Pacesetters? If so, please share.

I received a feedback from a potential partner but so far we did not initiate a concrete partnership.

VISION: If you had unlimited funding, and you could fast forward 15 years to when your program has been able to achieve wild success - what will it have achieved?

The programme is established in all states in Germany. It is expanded to other countries. More studetns could benefit to participate in our programme. The approach has changed the way how history is teached.

IMPACT - KEY METRICS: Please list the key data points that you would cite as evidence that you are able to achieve lasting learning outcomes. Please also share one data point for which you most hope to see better results over time

We are right now developing the project for expansion. It is a challenge to prove that the modell can also be established in more states in Germany. The number of participating students will increase if this goal will be achieved. In this stage of the project it is difficult to provide the data.

IMPACT - REPORTING SAMPLE: Please attach any examples of your impact reporting. [optional]:
RESEARCH AND EVIDENCE: Please link or attach any research or evidence resource you are open to sharing more widely [optional]. Building research and evidence is a key aim of this initiative, and the resources you share may be chosen for listing in the Center for Education Innovations library:
SOURCE: If applicable - who created the research or evidence you are choosing to share? :
IMPACT - REACH: How many people did your project directly engage in programmatic activities in the last year?

0 to 500

STUDY: Has an external evaluation or study been conducted of your organization?

Other (please specify)

Other (please specify)

self-evaluation tool

Number of Employees:

Fewer than 10

Number of Volunteers:

Fewer than 10

APPROACHES: Given the complexity of play, it is not surprising that there have been numerous research attempts to categorize the different types and approaches! Please indicate which of the following your project focuses on.

Creating a Supportive Socio-Emotional Environment, Educational Structuring (developing playful projects within educational contexts).

Other (please specify)
AFFILIATION: Please specify if your organization has any existing affiliations with the LEGO Group.