Koskisen Group14.12.2018

Koskisen in partnership to inspire young people in the areas of science, maths and technology

Koskisen delivers its production material.s, such as plywood and veneer, for use in the course

Koskisen delivers its production material.s, such as plywood and veneer, for use in the course.

 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 class’s activities. 

Young 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 independently.  

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 subjects. 

An award-winning and praised learning environment

Solving environmental 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. 

Tiedeluokka SOLU on suunniteltu paikaksi, jossa oppilas tai opiskelija voi olla luova, oivaltaa uutta ja oppia käytännön tekemisellä.

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.

Companies help the programme thrive and continue 

Corporate sponsorship 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 fullest extent.  

“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.