On the 27th of May, I attended Finland’s science forum workshop in Heureka. Heureka is a science center that plays an important role on science education. It is located in the capital area and gathers lots of school pupils who attend workshops and exhibitions. The workshop I attended was focused on science education in Finland and how to raise Finland as the most competent country worldwide in the field of science education by 2020.
Children learning skills start developing very early in pre-primary and basic education, and input into these will prevent exclusion at a later stage. In a constantly changing society, it is vital to make sure that those learning skills can be well acquired, so that every citizen has a better set of skills to handle information and meet everyday challenges.
In Finland, science education often starts in kinder-garden and it is essential to set a scientific approach from an early age. In that sense, it is very important to improve skills and raise awareness and interest towards science through games and activities. For example, in Metsäpolku kindergarten in Taipalsaari, the preschool group (43 children) have been visiting the nearest forest every week throughout the whole year. They have researched on trees and water to come up with animations based on their results using Smartboard and Movie maker. By including a recreational activity and by working together in groups, where everybody can have his own task, children feel confident to wonder about things and to raise questions that can be solved together.
Knowledge and science education levels in Finland are pretty stable; Finnish are well educated but the level of education is not improving and a new generation of researchers is needed. The curriculum is changing in 2016. Therefore, raising teachers and students skills will be of great importance. Everyday problems solved with scientific methods, by little scientists, play a crucial role in educating the new generation of scientists and researchers. And, not only for that, but to ensure everyone’s ability to take part on a scientific conversation. In that sense, extra curricular activities such as science clubs, camps and competitions should be available for all pupils, not just for the pupils of active teachers. That makes the role of teacher education to be more into importance of science education to help new teachers to encourage pupils into scientific thinking.
After the workshop, we had an opportunity to visit Heureka’s new exhibition “Heureka goes crazy”. In the exhibition, visitors could test simulations of mental disorders and feed their troubles into the “worry shredder”. The exhibition also encourages visitors to fool around a little and surprise themselves—to take care of their own mental health and well-being. Some of the exhibits have been designed especially for children. Furthermore, visitors can take part in touching and comforting accounts of people suffering from mental health disorders, or take a look at the history of insanity.
Article written by: Tiina Kähära, Scientix Deputy Ambassador