Nokia Foundation grants Professor Maija Aksela a recognition award

The awardee, Maija Aksela, Professor of Science Education at the University of Helsinki is known for her distinguished, long-term efforts to develop teaching and learning in mathematics, the natural sciences and technology, from early childhood education to higher education throughout Finland.

Nokia Foundation has granted its 2022 recognition award to Maija Aksela, Professor of Science Education at the University of Helsinki. The Foundation recognizes Aksela’s distinguished and long-term efforts in developing teaching methodologies in mathematics, the natural sciences, environmental studies and technology, as well as in strengthening science education.

Expertise in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, also known as the STEM subjects, is central to the wellbeing of Finland and Finns. Science and mathematics form the foundation for technological development and the technological innovations of our future. STEM-teachers play a key role in inspiring and engaging children and young people in these fields and in ensuring their competencies.

Nokia Foundation granted Maija Aksela a recognition award in its annual award ceremony this evening. Nokia Foundation has granted over 1,900 grants during its 27-year existence. In 2022, the Foundation will grant scholarships and awards totaling around 400,000 euros.

“For Finland to stay a frontrunner in technological competence and innovations, we must invest in educating the top talents of our future. It is important that students, already from a young age, understand the importance of technology and that they are encouraged to pursue further studies in the field. With this award, we would like to show our appreciation for the distinguished, long-term work of Professor Maija Aksela in developing teacher training in this field and in stimulating students' interest already at an early stage,” said Hannu Kauppinen, Chairman of the Board of Nokia Foundation.

Maija Aksela is Finland’s first professor of science education. She has more than 35 years of experience in developing both teaching and teacher training in STEM subjects, as well as creating new and inspiring teaching methods. She has published roughly 400 scholarly publications and supervised numerous doctoral and other theses. Her research focus areas include virtual methods of teaching and sustainability in teaching.

“Through my work, I would like to provide children and young people with new insights and spread the joy of learning, both in Finland and internationally. Futuremakers, that is, our children and youth, and their thinking and learning, have a special place in my heart. By working together with daycare centers, schools, families, businesses and the rest of society, it is possible for us to build a good and sustainable future. Anyone can be a science ambassador,” said Aksela.

Based on Aksela’s idea, the first LUMA Centre (the Finnish acronym LUMA is the equivalent of STEM in English) was established at the University of Helsinki roughly 20 years ago. Today, LUMA Centre Finland encompasses 11 Finnish universities and 13 regional LUMA Centres. The objective of the network is to promote collaboratively inspiring teaching and learning in mathematics, science and technology, from early childhood education to higher education. The network’s approach has attracted widespread international interest. Alongside her primary duties, Aksela serves as the director of the network. The network is particularly well known for its LUMA science and technology labs in various parts of Finland. Around 15 years ago, Aksela established the first LUMA lab at the University of Helsinki. ChemistryLab Gadolin is a learning environment that raises awareness about experimental chemistry.

The Nokia Foundation’s purpose is to support the scientific development of information and telecommunications technologies and to promote education in the sector in Finland. Nokia Foundation provides scholarships and awards for this mission. The Foundation was established on the initiative of Nokia Oyj in 1995; it is an independent, non-profit organization under Finnish foundation law.