STEAM in schools
Promoting the practical teaching of STEAM subjects and expanding the possibilities of STEAM education is mentioned in the Estonian Education Strategy for 2021-2035 by the Ministry of Education and Research (2020) as a part of creating flexible learning opportunities. Popularising natural sciences and technology is also acknowledged in the Strategy as an important element in working towards the goal of ensuring that the learning opportunities meet the needs of society and the labour market. Furthermore, the national curriculum supports interdisciplinary learning, compulsory students’ creative works and research projects in both basic as well as upper secondary education (Ministry of Education and Research, 2014a; Ministry of Education and Research, 2014b).
At the moment, many STEAM related activities in Estonian schools are funded through different projects. Projects that have supported schools with STEAM related equipment and training include:
- Collaboration projects with funding from Erasmus+ projects for training and student exchange (www.ec.europa.eu/programmes/erasmus-plus/about_en ).
- STEAM laboratory inventory projects with funding from European Social fund and “Eesti tuleviku heaks” foundation. (www.ec.europa.eu/esf/main.jsp?catId=51&langId=et)
- The Education and Youth Authority supports STEAM projects for training, workshops and equipment (www.harno.ee/opetajale/digikoolitused ).
There have been many projects where different learning and teaching materials have been developed. For example, the Progetiiger website (www.progetiiger.ee) gathers and displays different learning platforms that incorporate programming, which creates a clear overview of programs and websites that can be used in programming education.
Institutions offer STEAM activities
Different institutions in Estonia provide STEAM activities for students and training for teachers:
- Robootika.ee (www.robootika.ee/wp/) is an organisation that brings together the school robotics teams and is one of the partner organisations for different competitions like First LEGO League. They provide workshops, training and useful information and materials.
- Alushariduse haridustehnoloogia innovaatorid or Early Childhood Educational Technology Innovators (www.alushariduseinnovatsioon.ee) is an organisation for kindergarten teachers who are interested in teaching with digital tools.
- Keskkonnaharidus (www.keskkonnaharidus.ee/et/oppeprogrammid?keys=Steam) is a platform that collects together different informal education centres’ learning programs for environmental education. Some of the listed programs are also STEAM programs.
- Ahhaa (www.ahhaa.ee/en) and Energy Discovery Centre (www.energiakeskus.ee/en/about/) are two science centres offering science exhibits and workshops.
STEAM education and activities are also promoted by Tallinn University. The EDULAB approach (www.edulabs.ee/english/) is used to study and support educational innovation in schools. The EDULAB method improves the durability of educational innovations in practice by fostering and strengthening collaboration between Estonian schools and universities. This strategy builds communities of teachers, researchers, and other stakeholders and is based on popular Living Labs concepts. Through continual exchange of ideas, learning, co-creation, and evaluation of novel classroom methods, the community supports long-term, evidence-based educational innovation.
Tallinn University has also set up a special research laboratory, EDUSPACE, for learning and teaching supported by technology. According to their website (www.eduspace.tlu.ee/en/) EDUSPACE provides support, resources, and environment for research in the field of educational innovation. EDUSPACE has been involved in the STEAM K12 project, with the aim of providing students of teacher training with skills and courage to use different STEAM approaches. Since 2021, EDUSPACE is a part of the international project STEAM Upgrade, with the aim of upgrading pre- and in-service teachers’ digital skills through STEAM hands-on training modules.
Ministry of Education and Research. (2020). Haridusvaldkonna arengukava 2021–2035. https://www.hm.ee/sites/default/files/eesti_haridusvaldkonna_arengukava_2035_seisuga_2020.03.27.pdf
Ministry of Education and Research. (2014a). of the Government of the Republic of 6 January 2011. https://www.hm.ee/sites/default/files/est_basic_school_nat_cur_2014_appendix_4_final.pdf. National Curriculum for Basic Schools. Appendix 4 of Regulation no. 1.
Ministry of Education and Research. (2014b). of the Government of the Republic of 6 January 2011. https://www.hm.ee/sites/default/files/est_upper_secondary_nat_cur_2014_appendix_4_final.pdf. National Curriculum for Upper Secondary Schools. Appendix 4 of Regulation no. 2.