Learning for Life!

Nelson Mandela School from Berlin on an Erasmus+ study visit in Finland with EW

The Nelson Mandela International School from Berlin undertook a 2-week dive into the Finnish education system in order to explore how STEAM and phenomenon-based learning look like in the everyday reality of a school. Twelve students and seven teachers were hosted by Experience Workshop in Jyväskylä, and the Viitaniemi lower secondary school became their partner school. During these intensive two weeks, students visited the classes at the Viitaniemi school on an everyday basis, teachers divided their time between jobshadowing and teacher training.

See below the memorable moments of their stay!

Warka water workshop

Shared class with arts teacher Leena Kuorikoski from the Viitaniemi school and Kristof Fenyvesi from Experience Workshop. Subject: sustainable architecture with the Warka Water tower. The first experiments were table-top.

The experiment continued in the sports hall with the giant Warka-tower, a toolkit which brings the idea of sustainability into the school. The tower called Warka serves to collect humidity from the air to provide water in dry areas. Everybody was in 🙂 The discussion following the construction works explored what subjects and topics were involved in building the tower – quite many.

STEAM workshop at Crazy Town

Our STEAM workshops inhabited the coworking space Crazy Town. Soccer ball, coronavirus, robotics with the 4d frame tool – there was space for everything.

New acquaintances

A memorable gathering event of Finnish and Berlin students and teachers in Crazy Town after over a week of their stay. It became clear that in Finland, there is a lot of space for developing skills for everyday life. A Finnish student told her peers that everybody from her class has sewn their own “huppari” or hoodie in their crafts class. Students from Berlin, on the other hand were very skillful presenters of theoretical subjects such as politology.

At the Arts Museum of Jyväskylä, curator Sirpa Turpeinen has introduced the current exhibitions to the students.


We’ve also visited the Digi & Game Center run by JAMK (the University of Applied Sciences in Jyväskylä), not only to play games but mainly to see how games can serve educational purposes. The center is a hub for businesses in game development. A group of kids from Nelson Mandela have introduced their game – set in Egypt – which they’ve started to develop during their stay in Finland. They’ve received applause and encouragement from Valtteri Lahti, co-founder at Psyon Games.

Sightseeing in Jyväskylä

Thanks to the language teacher and professional guide Anne Yliniemi from the Viitaniemi School, we walked around the city to see a dozen of Alvar Aalto’s buildings and interior designs and hear their stories. Finland’s most famous modern architect has lived and worked extensively in and around Jyväskylä, his designs are among others the theatre building, the Museum of Central Finland and the building which became the Alvar Aalto Museum. Another city walk has unfolded the story of the old paper factory, being refurbished in the new city quarter called Kangas (fabric).

STEAM in education – training

Teachers participated in the training entitled “STEAM in secondary school education” provided by Experience Workshop’s staff members Kristóf Fenyvesi, Matias Kaukolinna and Orsolya Tuba: STEAM’s complex methodology is suitable for developing collaborative and interdisciplinary problem-solving skills that allow learners to explore unexpected connections between different aspects of the fields represented by different subjects. STEAM as a methodology is not only a powerful tool, but also one of the most important goals of learning today.

The Nelson Mandela community used padlet as a tool for taking notes and sharing experiences with parents and colleagues at home – it is available for the public, too. One of the interesting comments about the Finnish school system was: “Finnish schools have much more freedom to design their internal curricula and that the overarching compentences are the reliable connectors. They are all referring to life beyond school.” (see the last image in the gallery)

Padlet – notebook

Browse among the padlet notes of the Nelson Mandela people here.

Feedback by students:

I learned that STEAM has a really wide range of topics linked to it. The most interesting was the workshop about fullerene structures.

I made a couple of new friends. I think the key was to ask them questions about their life here and talk about differences.

I learnt that education is also possible with little to no pressure. The Finnish school system prepared the students for life and not for university.

The breaks in the school were quite long and relatively frequent. I felt like this made the school day much more enjoyable. I have realized how breaks increase productivity.

The most interesting thing was how Finnish societal values impacted the learning priorities of the school system. We took part in many manual, hands-on learning experiences such as woodworking, home economics, and textile workshops. These subjects are lost in our own school system.

Feedback by teachers:

I have gained experience in understanding classroom atmosphere, insight into less competetive system, importance of general life skills, lesson planning and teaching in a more student-centered and differentiated way.

I realized that it is quite important to link the project to a real-life situation.

I learnt that it is important for students to do hands-on activities in order to use as many different senses as possible.

I enjoyed the STEAM workshop and I think that the methods here are something to take into the classroom as often as possible.

Photo credits: Nóra Somlyódy, Kristóf Fenyvesi, Florentine Baumann, Matias Kaukolinna

The student mobility and staff mobility programmes (teacher training and job shadowing) were realized in the frameworks of the Erasmus+ KA121 programme.

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