60 years old | “Together we need wonder and the joy of discovery,” says Maija Aksela, professor of science education

Maija Aksela wants to get children and young people to ask “how” and “why”. At the same time, adults learn.

When Professor of Science Education Maija Aksela was a child, fascinated by natural mathematics and geometry: the colors, shapes, and functions of plants. He examined cones, rowanberries and other things found in the nearby forest. Parents were encouraged to observe nature and do their own research.

“It’s really important that in childhood, imagination is allowed to come to fruition, and I’ve had that kind of childhood when I grew up on land surrounded by nature. That’s why I want to create opportunities for the joy of discovery and success in my work, ”says Aksela.

Science education is to strengthen the scientific skills of children and young people. It is done together with them and often on the basis of their questions. It is not dictated from above that children should be interested, but the answers to the questions that interest them are sought together.

Usually they are enough. Aksela’s 2.5-year-old grandson has recently asked his grandmother, among other things, how the sun works.

“The kids have absolutely great questions, and she asks grandma really hard. But even if you don’t know the answers yourself, you can say that a good question, let’s go out together to find out. Neither teachers nor anyone need to know everything. It can be pointed out to the child that there is always learning and that is a good thing, ”says Aksela.

“We need the courage to go out boldly to seek information and learn together, that is, to marvel together and the joy of discovery. It is often thought that the natural sciences are in the laboratory, but they are also everywhere in nature and at home. ”

Natural his interest in mechanisms took Aksela at a young age to study science. He did postgraduate studies in Canada in enzyme chemistry modeling programming. Working as a teacher inspired me to do postgraduate studies in education as well.

“I’ve always been interested in human thinking and how scientific thinking can be promoted. As a teacher, I started thinking about how to get young people to ask how-and-why questions that are higher-level thinking. You won’t learn if the information isn’t relevant to you, so it’s important to understand their thinking. ”

Aksela manages the Luma Center Finland network, which operates all over the country. The network encourages children and young people to study and practice mathematics, environmental science, science and technology.

Some of the activities take place virtually, so everyone has the opportunity to get involved, regardless of geographical location. At the same time, young people interested in the topics of the courses can get to know peers from all over the country who are interested in the same things.

“The factors of the future and the promotion of their thinking and learning are in my heart. I wonder what kind of questions children and young people have. Young people are interested in solutions, and we strive to build a science education that confronts them. At the same time, we learn from young people through their questions. ”

Reciprocity also takes place at scientific events for the whole family organized by the network. Aksela has noticed how the enthusiasm of children might catch on to their parents.

“In an environment of creativity, different encounters with different people are needed. Even a young person can ask a researcher an essential question, and through it a solution and innovation is created. I can say for myself that when I follow the grandchild’s questions and the shine of his eyes, I get energy and see the world differently. ”

Aksela talks about children and young people as factors for the future. He is fully confident in their ability to meet the challenges of the coming decades.

Important the professors call creativity, community, problem-solving and critical thinking the skills of the future. All of them can be taught.

“In the future, I want to do more global cooperation so that it also benefits Finland. I also attach great importance to science education over generations, and when I retire, I will probably start going to kindergartens and schools as science ambassadors. I put research tools in my portfolio and go through the stories and questions with the children to wonder about the world and life. ”

Maija Aksela

  • Born in 1961 in Butterfly. Lives in Souka, Espoo.

  • Studied science and education at the University of Helsinki, the University of Oulu and Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada. Worked at the University of Helsinki since 1997.

  • Teacher of Mathematics of the Year 1995, Naturalist of the Year 2005, Honorable Mention of a Woman 2008, State Award for Disclosure of Information 2009, JV Snellman Award for Disclosure of Information 2010.

  • Positions of trust e.g. Member of the Finnish Unesco Committee, member of the board of Ursa ry.

  • He enjoys nature and art in its various forms. The family includes a husband, two adult children and two grandchildren.

  • Turns 60 on Thursday, November 25th. Celebrates its anniversary at the Souka Art Society’s art exhibition at Galleria Villisia.

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