Aalto University Junior brings workshops to schools
At Äkäslompolo comprehensive school, there was a lot of excitement in the air when pupils in grades 5 and 6 had insights as they made bioplastic in the microwave-oven, built a sustainable city of the future and folded geometric patterns with origami. Aalto University Junior’s virtual workshops bring variation and pleasant learning moments to the school’s everyday life. ‘It’s wonderful that Aalto University Junior comes to us remotely, because it’s not possible for us to visit universities all the way from Ylläs, Lapland. I hope that these remote workshops will continue to make it possible for schools in remote areas to participate,’ says Outi Koli, Vice Rector of Äkäslompolo school.
Aalto University Junior offers art, science, technology and business to schoolchildren of all ages. In 2021, its free virtual activities reached nearly 18,000 children, young people and teachers around Finland. ‘There were participants from 150 municipalities and the majority of the schools were involved for the first time. The virtual activities have also reached special groups for whom it is difficult to leave their own school,’ says Veli-Matti Ikävalko, Manager of Aalto University Junior.
At upper secondary school Gymnasiet Lärkan, chemistry teacher Tanja Häkli welcomes the Swedish-speaking virtual workshops. They allow students to get to know the university world and learn what chemistry is actually used for. ‘At the workshop, the researcher shared with us how cellulose is used for making textiles and showed us a video about the production process. Then, in a demonstration, students were able to see how one strand of Ioncell fibre is manufactured. This is something we can’t do at school. It’s also important that students get role models of young chemistry researchers.’
Aalto University Junior is also a central part of the science and programming teaching at Otaniemi Upper Secondary School. ‘Cooperation with the university provides an excellent framework for teaching and access to tools that the school doesn’t have. For instance, Aalto University Junior has electronics and equipment needed for Arduino programming, as well as skilled instructors. During the remote lectures of different theme weeks, we’ve learned about satellites, acoustics and hydrogen economy,’ says Matti Heikkinen, teacher at Otaniemi Upper Secondary School.
Text: Marjukka Puolakka