History of the Science Education Centre

Professor Maija Aksela and University Lecturer Marjo Vesalainen began the preparations for the establishment of the University of Helsinki LumA Science Education Centre in late 2015. 

The Centre launched on 1 January 2017 and held its opening ceremony on 14 February 2017.

History of the LUMA Centre

The LUMA disciplines (an acronym of LUonnontieteet and MAtematiikka, science and math) have been actively promoted in Finland since 1996.  The Finnish National Board of Education ran the LUMA project to develop teaching in mathematics and the natural sciences between 1996 and 2002.

The national LUMA Centre was established at the University of Helsinki on 9 December 2003, and its opening festivities were held on the Kumpula Campus on 28 February 2004. The management group that established the LUMA Centre featured representatives from the Ministry of Education, the National Board of Education, the University of Helsinki’s faculties of Biological Sciences, Behavioural Sciences and Science, the Education Department of the City of Helsinki (representing municipalities), the Economic Information Office, the Chemical Industry Federation Finland, the Finnish Forest Industries Federation and the Federation of Finnish Technology Industries. The 2005 strategy of the Centre defined it as “an umbrella organisation coordinated by the Faculty of Science at the University of Helsinki to promote cooperation between schools, universities and the business sector in Finland”. The goal of the Centre was to promote learning, studying and teaching the natural sciences, mathematics, computer science and technology on all levels.

In addition, one of the goals of the national LUMA Centre is the enhancement of LUMA activities throughout Finland. To reach this goal, the Centre supported the creation of smaller LUMA centres at different institutions of higher education around Finland. Since 2007, new LUMA centres have been established at other Finnish universities. In 2009, the council for mathematics and natural sciences set by the National Board of Education recommended that Finland enhance its LUMA activities by creating a network of LUMA centres at institutions of higher education. To reach this goal, the national LUMA council was set in the beginning of 2010. The mission of the national LUMA council was defined as drafting the national LUMA strategy to serve as a basis for LUMA activities, while agreeing on focus areas and cooperation projects and their funding. In addition, the council agrees on joint communications and project-related research as well as international cooperation projects while exchanging experiences of various operational models. LUMA Centre Finland was launched on 8 November 2013 to serve as an umbrella organisation for Finnish LUMA centres to enhance and promote their national and international cooperation.

History of the AinO Centre

The University of Helsinki’s Faculty of Arts launched its AinO project to develop subject teacher education in the beginning of 2001. The central goal of the project was to train more subject teachers for fields in which the demand for teachers was expected to be particularly great due to older teachers retiring. In addition, the project developed subject teacher education in the humanities and promoted its visibility at the Faculty of Arts. 

In 2001, the Faculty of Arts used funding from the Ministry of Education to establish subject teacher education programmes in English, German and Swedish as well as in the native language and literature of the national languages of Finland. Students were selected for these programmes through direct admissions, meaning that the students began their studies in their teaching subject and the studies in education required for teachers simultaneously from their first year. The Faculty of Arts and the Faculty of Behavioural Sciences received project funding for the period 2001–2003 to select and train 90 students. In 2003, the faculties received additional funding from the rector to continue the direct admissions with an additional quota of 30 students. The Ministry of Education granted further funding for the AinO project for the period 2004–2006, and in 2004 and 2005, 100 more students were admitted to the programmes.

A new degree system and new degree requirements were adopted in autumn 2005 both at departments and for the studies in education required for teachers. Some of the students who began their studies through the direct admissions process completed their degrees according to the old requirements, but most of them transferred to the new system. The biggest change in the degree system had to do with the studies in education required for teachers, which had been further developed thanks largely to the direct admissions project. From autumn 2005, the studies in education required for teachers transferred into a four-module curriculum. After this, the direct admissions process was no longer used in humanities disciplines. 

Marja K. Martikainen, lecturer in German at the University of Helsinki’s Viikki Teacher Training School, began work as coordinator of the AinO project in autumn 2005 with the intention of furthering the goals of the subject teacher education project. The Faculty of Arts began to plan the AinO Centre, a teaching and research centre for the humanities, at her initiative in late 2005. It would be modelled after resource centres in European universities as well as the University of Helsinki’s similar centre for the sciences, the LUMA Centre. Student Erja Niinimäki was very helpful to Martikainen, particularly in the web design for the centre in autumn 2005.

On 9 December 2005, the Faculty of Arts and the AinO project hosted a seminar at Hotel Vuoranta, where the seminar workgroups drafted plans that became the preliminary general guidelines for the AinO Centre. Of all of the humanities, they decided to start with teaching in foreign languages. The AinO Centre foreign languages planning group was established under the chair Marja K. Martikainen in spring 2006 and set about drafting the duties planned for the AinO Centre.

In the beginning, the AinO Centre served as an online portal. The decision was made to launch the AinO Centre on the European Day of Languages, 26 September 2006. In addition to the opening festivities, a Day of Languages event was organised for comprehensive school pupils together with the Federation of Foreign Language Teachers in Finland SUKOL. The Ministry of Education granted funding to the AinO Centre for the period 2007–2009.