A special science class called Tiedeluokka
SOLU was established in connection with the Päijät-Häme LUMA (i.e. STEM –
science, technology, engineering, maths) Centre in order to give young people
the opportunity to learn about natural sciences and maths in insightful and
intriguing ways. Support from companies plays an important role in the science
people’s career dreams and the need for expertise in Finland do not intersect.
The number of applicants in the fields of science, technology and maths, i.e.
STEM subjects, is on the decline, despite the bright future job prospects in
precisely these fields. Jarkko Lampiselkä, the Director of the
Päijät-Häme LUMA Centre, says the low level of interest in STEM subjects among
Finnish youths has been noted.
“Our solution to the
problem is quite simple. We just have to change their understanding, beliefs
and attitudes towards the disciplines of science, technology and mathematics so
that they are appealing and interesting,” explains Lampiselkä.
It is the reason that Tiedeluokka
SOLU (Science Class SOLU) was established as part of the Päijät-Häme LUMA
Centre. It is a diverse learning environment that schools and education
institutes can take advantage of in their education programmes. SOLU offers the
opportunity to engage in free experimental work in the fields of maths,
chemistry, biology, geography, coding and robotics, either under guidance or
The Päijät-Häme LUMA
Centre operates in connection with the Lahti University Consortium and is part
of LUMA Centre Finland, which is made up of 13 local centres around the
country. Among the objectives of LUMA’s operations are to inspire children and
adolescents to study and take part in STEM subjects, to encourage a variety of
study options to choose from, to support current and future STEM subject
teachers and instructors, and to increase awareness of the importance of STEM
crimes using DNA tests, an AR sandbox, coding and heart preparation... The
science courses offered as part of Science Class SOLU include everything that
schools might not necessarily have the resources for. Many assignments would
require tremendous learning, time and planning of teachers, as well as
laboratory conditions that are not a given. This is why it is also important
for teachers to be able to take their groups to Science Class SOLU.
Science Class SOLU is
set up as a place where a pupil or student can be creative, discover something
new and learn through a hands-on approach. According to Lampiselkä, the class
also aims to show all the interesting things that can be accomplished by
mastering the science, technology, engineering and maths subjects – and it’s
not even as hard as one might think. All that is needed is an interest in and a
desire to focus on STEM subjects, also outside of school to some extent.
“If someone wants to
be a violinist, what they learn in music class at school is not enough. If we
want more Tero Pitkämäkis or Kimi Räikkönens, we won’t get them in school gym
class. These activities need to be practiced also outside of school, and
opportunities to do so are offered in abundance. But if we want to be a
mathematician, where do we go?” asks Lampiselkä.
Science Class SOLU was
started up around a year ago. Tarja Kariola, the co-ordinator of the
LUMA Centre, says the programme has been very well-received. Word has spread
among teachers, and the Science Class’s calendar is full. The City of Lahti has
also recognised the new learning environment by declaring Science Class SOLU as
the higher-education deed of the year. In addition, all ninth-graders in the
city of Lahti attended Science Class SOLU this autumn.
“This work is truly a joy. The enthusiasm of the teachers and students alike is plain to see. In addition to Science Class SOLU’s visits, we also arrange a science club aimed especially at primary school pupils; the club has been well-received in the Lahti area. The science club is held once a week, and every week the number of participants is high,” says Kariola.
is very important for SOLU Science Club’s activities. Partnership with
companies can even be as simple as exchanging information. At its broadest, it
can be close co-operation, but small, concrete actions are also important.
“A company may offer
snacks or it may offer the school a bus ride to Science Class SOLU. For many
schools, these are the kinds of things that can influence whether or not this
kind of extracurricular activity can be arranged,” says Lampiselkä.
Koskisen sponsors the
activities with financial funding, and also offers its production materials,
such as plywood and veneer, for use in the course as needed. Juha Virmiala,
Export Manager for Koskisen’s Sawn Timber Industry, says the partnership is
important and hopes that Science Class SOLU achieves its objectives to the
“The science class is
a wonderful thing! It is interesting even from an adult’s perspective. We have
visited LUMA and the science class, and now I’m just waiting for my child to be
old enough to take part in it too,” says Virmiala.
Koskisen shares the
concern of a possible shortage of experts in the future.
“Graduates are not exactly flooding our industry. We and many other companies in the industry train our employees in apprenticeship programmes to ensure that we get the expertise we need. It is important for the future that young people enter the STEM disciplines. This programme might not be what brings us new employees, but this matter is so important in general that we want to continue to be a part of it,” concludes Virmiala.