SciFest field trip

I recently had the opportunity to tag along with a busload of primary school students for a three-day trip to attend SciFest in Joensuu. The students, who were from Koulumestari and Vanttila schools, were attending the festival to compete in the RoboCup Junior Finnish Nationals.

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SciFest is a yearly festival that features activities and workshops for students and teachers. This year the festival celebrated the UNESCO International Year of Light. While this made for some interesting activities and displays, it also meant that the building was too dimly lit for easy photo taking! The festival included many booths with activities on topics such as computer programming, 3D printing, color mixing, light bulbs, lenses, colorblindness, and environmental issues. Many of the booths were run by students, ranging from university graduate students to those in middle school. Continue reading

Life As a Sixth Grader

A majority of my time in the Koulumestari School was spent with one of the two 6th grade classes (equal to US grade 7). There are 23 kids in the class, and they are taught most of their subjects by a regular education teacher (called a class teacher) and a special education teacher. The teachers have the room shown below as well as an adjoining room containing a few tables as well as a large sofa and some beanbag chairs for reading. Both rooms are equipped with Smart Boards, desktop computers, and document cameras. Each student has a school-issued tablet that can be taken home.

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The two teachers worked together seamlessly, sometimes co-teaching a lesson and other times splitting students into two groups and using the second room. I didn’t even know that one teacher was a special educator until asking, and I wonder if students are aware of the distinction.

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