On 7 October 2022, nearly thirty adults from various cultural and social backgrounds participated in the STEAM in Finnish Adult Education workshop. The workshop was organized by Experience Workshop ay as part of the STEAMPlus Erasmus project.
The program consisted of two main sessions: one for raising STEAM Awareness and another to promote maker culture. The event was delivered in a hybrid format, allowing a handful of online participants to interact with in-person discussions and activities taking place simultaneously in the Crazy Town co-working space, in Jyväskylä, Finland. Experience Workshop was teaming up with EdDisCo (Education Discussion Company), an international group of education enthusiasts, who gather online bi-weekly to discuss emerging educational topics with speakers from around the world.
The event was opened by Experience Worksop’s STEAM director, Dr. Kristof Fenyvesi and the event’s coordinator, Orsolya Tuba. Kristof, a senior researcher at the Finnish Institute for Educational Research of the University of Jyväskylä, raised attention to emerging issues in education globally and highlighted the potential of STEAM for lifelong learning by increasing problem-solving skills of learners of any age. Orsolya, event coordinator and social entrepreneur, welcomed the audience and addressed them to have an open mind and to feel encouraged to share their thoughts, and questions.
Sophia Stier, STEAM educator from the USA, was the main speaker of the event. Her passion is art and math education and she has broad experience in bridging the gap between students, their parents/caregivers, and the school context. Sophia introduced STEAM’s general impact as a social experiment, that she demonstrated with some eye-opening exercises.
At the workshop, participants were encouraged to share something about themselves and one thing they had noticed or thought about Sophia. The audience was curious to see how these observations and information link to STEAM. According to Sophia, it is very interesting that everyone introduced themselves similarly (occupation, nationality, etc.) but what they thought and said of her was based on a more out-of-the-box thinking process, which she encourages us all to use in our everyday lives.
The series of eye-opening mathematical exercises were also excellent tools for highlighting how creativity has a crucial role in social problem-solving.
Following the STEAM awareness discussion, a coffee break was well-suited, creating space for networking and exchanging thoughts on the event so far. After refreshments and a quick energizer exercise (photos above), the participants were ready to explore more about the different applications of STEAM.
Sophia continued to engage and inspire the audience with an interactive card game, which showcased how learning can happen in various means and that the STEAM approach is a lifelong learning resource for adults as well. Following Sophia’s workshop, participants were invited to experiment with STEAM tools and games designed to enhance learners’ collaborative problem solving and creativity skills.
Finally, EdDisCo was introduced by project leaders, Marc Perkins and Deepti Boda, both students at the Educational Sciences Master’s Programme at University of Jyväskylä. EdDisCo provides an online discussion platform with the purpose of facilitating dialogue and learning from the diversity of lived experiences in the educational contexts. In their presentation, Marc raised awareness on the potential learning outcomes of shared personal thoughts and experiences around educational topics and invited participants to join the group and contribute to the upcoming sessions with their own perspectives, culture and knowledge.
It was a truly welcoming and inspiring experience to have such engaging and curious attendees, who were not only interested in finding out what STEAM really means in adult learning, but also were open to learning about how they can incorporate this approach to their everyday lives. Based on the immediate feedback of attendees, we were delighted to acknowledge that it was a fruitful and meaningful experience for all.