STEAM in schools
In Finland, STEAM as such is not mentioned in the current national core curriculum for basic education. However, interdisciplinary teaching is emphasised, with the goal of giving students opportunities to combine knowledge of different subjects into more meaningful concepts (Finnish National Agency for Education, 2014). Suggestions of how to implement interdisciplinary teaching include studying the same topic during lessons of different subjects and organising educational events about specific themes. While the national core curriculum includes e.g. the objectives and core contents of different subjects, it is up to the teachers to choose learning materials and methods (Eurydice, 2020). Therefore, the curriculum allows teachers to include as much of a STEAM approach in their lessons as they wish, although, apart from some interdisciplinary teaching, it is not specifically required.
LUMA Centre Finland
LUMA Centre Finland is a network of Finnish universities with the purpose of increasing students’ and teachers’ competence in mathematics, science and technology. The organisation strives to inspire children and youth to study these subjects as well as to support the lifelong learning of teachers. LUMA Centre Finland also aims to develop pedagogical innovations using scientific research and to increase the visibility of STEM-subjects in society (LUMA Centre Finland, 2014).
The LUMA Centre Finland network consists of 13 active centres in 11 universities across Finland. Many of the measures to achieve the goals of the network are implemented by these local centres. Aksela, et al. (2020) describe these measures, including organising different types of activities for students, such as clubs, camps, courses and events. For example, LUMA Centre of Southwestern Finland, which is a part of University of Turku, organises a SciCruise science cruise annually. While this has not been possible to organise in 2021 due to the covid-19 pandemic, LUMA Centre of Southwestern Finland has been able to offer virtual science clubs. The participants meet via Zoom and carry out experiments in their own kitchens.
The LUMA Centres also support the education of teachers and teacher students by offering resources, courses and schooling events. One project for teachers is the further education program LUMATIKKA, which is sponsored by the government. The program contains courses which offer research-based information, exercises and ideas about teaching mathematics in early childhood education, pre-schools, primary education and secondary education (Aksela et al., 2020).
Although the strategy of LUMA Centre Finland for 2014-2025 (Strategia vuosille 2014-2025) only mentions STEM without the art aspect of STEAM, many of the activities organised by the LUMA centres do in fact fit the STEAM approach. For example, in the DESIGNSTEM project 2016-2019, electronic learning equipment that combined design and science was developed. Another example is the course “Mathematics and art” included in the LUMATIKKA program.
Aksela et al. (2020) emphasise the important part scientific research plays at LUMA centre Finland in the form of LUMAT Science Research Forum. The purpose of the forum is to improve the quality, effectiveness and visibility of Finnish science education research. In practice, the forum develops collaboration between universities, faculties and research groups. Promoting teacher education research is considered especially important. LUMA centre Finland and the University of Helsinki publish two scientific journals – LUMAT and LUMAT-B. Both journals publish articles regarding education in mathematics, science and technology. LUMAT publishes original research, while LUMAT-B focuses on conference and symposium articles. In the context of this handbook, it is worth mentioning that a special issue of LUMAT about promoting STEAM in education was published in March 2021.
While the practical operations are often carried out by the local LUMA centres, the Board of LUMA Centre Finland is in charge of decision making when it comes to applying for common funding. The Board also approves the common strategy and the annual plan, budget and report of the network. The Board consists of one representative from each of the centre’s partner universities. There is also a National LUMA Advisory Board, which meets at least once a year and acts as an advisory discussion forum for the Board. The Advisory Board consists of representatives from different collaboration partners and stakeholders. The Director of the Centre oversees the operational management and presents topics to the board. The Director is appointed by the Rector of the University of Helsinki, in consultation with the partner universities. (Aksela et al., 2020.)
The universities’ core funding as well as funding from the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture make up a large portion of the resources of LUMA Centre Finland (Aksela et al., 2020.). Projects funded by the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture include the national development program for STEM-education called LUMA2020 (implemented during 2019-2020) as well as the above mentioned LUMATIKKA project. Hence, both the universities and the government play key roles in maintaining and developing the LUMA Centre Finland network as a tool to promote STEAM in Finland.
Aksela, A., Lundell, J., & Ikävalko, T. (Eds.). (2020). LUMA Finland – Together we are more! LUMA Centre Finland: Unigrafia Oy.
Eurydice. (2020, March 3). Single structure education (integrated primary and lower secondary education). https://eacea.ec.europa.eu/national-policies/eurydice/finland/single-structure-education-integrated-primary-and-lower-secondary-education_en. European Commission.
Finnish National Agency for Education. (2014). Perusopetuksen opetussuunnitelman perusteet 2014. https://www.oph.fi/sites/default/files/documents/perusopetuksen_opetussuunnitelman_perusteet_2014.pdf
LUMA Centre Finland. (2014). Strategia vuosille 2014–2025. https://www.luma.fi/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/lks-strategia-2014-2025.pdf