Science education from kindergarten to working lifeUniversity Lecturer Riikka Lahtinen was appointed as the director of the LUMATE Centre in Tampere in early January. She has been trusted with an important position and is delighted to join the thriving centre.
“I want to continue developing the LUMATE Centre’s operations as a whole, but I’m also planning to reinforce some areas. I’ll be looking to develop a strong research-oriented approach to teaching and learning in the field of natural sciences,” says Riikka Lahtinen.
“The integration of multiple activities is a current trend that we could try out at LUMATE. Maybe we’ll relaunch an English-taught science club, or seek further internationalization through foreign patron clubs.”
Lahtinen wants to increase interest in natural sciences and promote equal opportunities for all to learn about and understand the natural phenomena of our world. This is where the free LUMATE clubs come in. The clubs can spark a lifelong interest in natural sciences.
“I don’t mean that everyone should pursue a career in natural sciences, but it’s important for children to gain a basic understanding of our natural world”, says Lahtinen.
LUMATE has limited resources, and one of her main occupations is to ensure the continuation of funding.
WHO? University Lecturer Riikka Lahtinen, 45 years
Born in Helsinki but is 100% Karelian. Went to school in Rantasalmi.
Degrees: Doctor of Science in Technology, 2000, Helsinki University of Technology. Wrote her dissertation on electrochemistry.
Career: Post-doc in Liverpool in 2000–2002 before going on maternity leave. Joined TUT as a lecturer in 2003 and was appointed as university lecturer in 2010. In addition to teaching chemistry, Lahtinen is involved in the development of education.
Lives in Pispala, Tampere.
Family: Husband, 7-year-old daughter and 15-year-old son.
Hobbies: Sports, especially choreographed workouts. Enjoys cultural events and museums. Her most recent cultural experiences include the ‘Land of Kalevala’ ballet and the Natural Museum of Finland’s ‘Story of Finland’ exhibition.
“When I visited Lappeenranta University of Technology, I came across a huge crowd of boys and only few girls. I was annoyed at the thought of there being a place only for boys. And as I enjoyed chemistry, I decided to apply to a chemical engineering programme at Helsinki University of Technology (now Aalto University).”
Lahtinen is interested in the development of education, because it offers an opportunity to work with others to contribute to and reshape our future. She quotes physicist and Nobel laureate Carl Wieman, who has stated that traditional lectures are about as effective as bloodletting.
“Universities impart the latest scientific knowledge to students, but they should also consider the latest knowledge of teaching and learning. We should get rid of the old ‘lectures, exercises, exam’ approach.”
Lahtinen spent last spring on teacher exchange in Singapore. She came across an interesting method for assessing, for example, the development of students’ employability skills during courses.
“After content knowledge, the most important skills we should be teaching our students are critical thinking, including critical media literacy, collaboration skills and learning how to learn,” says Lahtinen.