Cities of cooperation
Our close education collaboration with the City of Lappeenranta covers a wide range of age groups. Annually, we reach approximately 400 children in early childhood education, 2100 pupils in basic education, 200 teachers and 1000 upper secondary school students. The activity is continuous and incorporated into the municipal curricula for early childhood education and basic and upper secondary education.
The Junior University path to LUT University is also an important part of the strategy of the city of Lappeenranta. The Junior University activities are built and organized in close cooperation with our partners both within the city organization (Lappeenranta Region's Environmental Office, South Carelian waste management company etc.) and also with local and global non-governmental organizations. For example, together with World Wildlife Fund WWF we organize teacher training in order to raise teachers' awareness of climate change and their ability to promote fact-based environmental education in their everyday work.
The Junior University activities support the National Core Curriculum for Basic Education (transversal competence, integrative instruction and multidisciplinary learning). The long-term goal is to build a unique combination of learning and teaching at a national level that strengthens students' interest in mathematical and natural sciences and technology (STEAM) and provides students with comprehensive access to university education, thus promoting educational equality. In addition to the Junior University program we also organise extracurricular activities especially with Skinnarila elementary school located at the university campus in Lappeenranta. One example of these are shore cleaning campaigns at lake Saimaa shoreline next to the campus. By organizing these campaigns, we have offered both pupils, teachers and university staff members a possibility to participate in water pollution control.
Lappeenranta is known as Finland's Climate Capital. We believe that children spread know-how about sustainable development to their families, making the city more sustainable each year. We aim for strengthening human agency of children and young people in showing how their everyday choices can make a difference. In Junior University activities, all age groups from children in early childhood education to high school students learn how to reduce their water footprint and their carbon footprint and how to maximize the carbon handprint. They are also challenged to search for solutions for how to contribute to the climate change and how to boost businesses to be more sustainable.
Who, what, how?
Early childhood education
Themes: clean energy, clean water, circular economy
Teaching and research material for early childhood education units and training for teachers
In early childhood education, the themes of the Junior University activities are clean energy, clean water and circular economy. During the Eco-detective research activities, the children in early childhood education learn these topics by observing their everyday surroundings at preschool and at home. The overall goal is to strengthen the sense of agency of small children in preventing climate change.
The purpose of the energy related tasks is to teach the children how to minimize energy consumption by making simple everyday choices. They observe the room temperatures, check if the lights are left on when there is no one in the room, learn how to use a power consumption meter and measure power consumption of different household devices and appliances. The water-related tasks aim to minimize water consumption. For example, the children learn how to use the water flow indicator for measuring the amount of water used for brushing their teeth if the tap is left open, or if it is closed. They also observe the toilets and bathrooms in order to find dripping taps. These tasks help small children to understand the meaning of their own choices in saving energy and water.
The circular economy tasks are related to recycling. The children learn how to recycle different materials, observe how the waste materials are recycled at the preschool and at home, make suggestions for improvements and follow up the situation in 1-2 weeks. They also weigh the amount of biowaste generated in preschool canteen and think about various ways of minimizing the amount of biowaste also at home.
LUT University organizes teacher training for early childhood education teachers for carrying out the Eco-detective activities and raising teachers' awareness of circular economy issues. The material and devices for carrying out the activities are also provided for preschools.
Activities promote SDGs 6, 7 and 12
Themes: clean energy, circular economy
Theme days at schools, teaching material and training for teachers
The themes for the 3rd grade pupils are clean water and circular economy. Themed Water days are organized in all 22 elementary schools in Lappeenranta city for all 700 pupils and almost 50 teachers by specialists from LUT University and Lappeenranta Region's Environmental Office. During the theme lessons, all schoolchildren deepen their understanding of natural water circulation and protection of natural waters. They learn about lake Saimaa and its fish species and think about ways of protecting the lake. They also learn how to minimize the water consumption at home, learn the elements of wastewater treatment and the sewage etiquette.
In order to raise the teachers' awareness in clean water issues, the teacher training modules for all 3rd grade teachers in the City of Lappeenranta are also organized annually by LUT Junior University. The teachers are provided with additional material for expanding the Water theme days' contents with pupils by carrying out water research, following the media about water related topics, using the water consumption theme in mathematics tasks etc.
The circular economy theme is organized in close cooperation with Etelä-Karjalan Jätehuolto Oy, the local waste management company. Each school is provided with material for the circular economy lessons and like in the water theme, all the 3rd grade teachers area also offered a teacher training module in circular economy issues.
Activities promote SDGs 7, 12 and 14
Themes: sustainable business and entrepreneurship
Teaching material and training for teachers, theme day at LUT
The Junior University themes for 5th grade pupils are sustainable business and entrepreneurship. During the 5th grade, the schoolchildren participate in the nationwide Little Entrepreneurs program – an entrepreneurship education program for elementary schools. During a nine-week period the pupils run a company from beginning to end. There is a special edition of the program made for Lappeenranta pupils in close cooperation with LUT School of Business and Management, which emphasizes sustainability in business and entrepreneurship. The teaching material and training for teachers as well as the final theme day at the university campus for participating pupils is offered by LUT in close cooperation with NGO Junior Achievement Finland, a leader in entrepreneurial education in Finland and owner of the Little Entrepreneurs brand.
Activities promote SDGs 8 and 12
Themes: clean energy, sustainable living
Multidisciplinary module including workshops at LUT
The Junior University themes for 8th graders are clean energy and sustainable living. All pupils participate in a multidisciplinary module in these topics, including workshops at the university campus. The workshop day involves LUT University's degree programs and partners in cooperation:
- Etelä-Karjalan Jätehuolto waste management company
- Lappeenranta region environment office
- City of Lappeenranta Land Use and Planning
- Greenreality network companies Electroway and Proheat
- Lappeenranta Student Housing Foundation LOAS
During the multidisciplinary module, in total 700 pupils will calculate the carbon footprint of their own household and are challenged to think about different ways of reducing it by saving energy, minimizing consumption etc. They learn practical ways of preventing climate change by everyday choices made in their homes. The pupils who choose to participate in the Chemistry workshop, get deeper understanding also in water management issues such as wastewater treatment processes and learn how to minimize their water consumption.
Activities promote SDGs 7, 11, 12 and 13
Our cooperation with the City of Imatra encompasses all eighth graders − roughly 270 annually. The multidisciplinary eighth grade learning module deals with the living environment of the future. Students attend thematic workshops at LUT University during the autumn semester (moved to spring in academic year 2020-21). The workshops are arranged by the LUT University degree programmes, LAB University of Applied Sciences and our partners in cooperation:
- Etelä-Karjalan Jätehuolto waste management company
- Imatran vesi water utility
- Imatran Lämpö heating company
- Imatran kaupunkikehitys urban development services
- Mitra Imatran Rakennuttaja building management company
For example, the workshops by the LUT Chemical Engineering degree programme focus on clean water. The students learn about water purification and how to measure the hardness of water (meaning mainly the calcium and magnesium content).
In addition, all upper secondary school students - roughly 120 annually - attend workshops arranged by LUT experts in chemical process engineering. The students learn to analyze and separate different components from spinach (for example) using thin layer chromatography.
The City of Lahti and universities that have branched out to Lahti have a long tradition of cooperation and joint events. The LUT Junior University aims to establish collaboration in Lahti by developing and expanding existing forms of cooperation to cover entire age groups from early childhood education to upper secondary education. The planning of the collaboration has started in 2019. The related collaborative activities will be included in the curricula of local schools.
Lahti received the European Green Capital award for 2021, and Lappeenranta followed by receiving the Europeal Grean Leaf award for the same year. The collaboration between LUT University and Lahti will revolve around LUT's strategic focus areas and Green Capital themes.
The Junior University operating model has been planned and is developed further in cooperation with the City of Lahti, the University of Helsinki, the Lahti University Campus, and the LUMA Centre Päijänne Tavastia.
The model was launched and piloted in the academic year 2020-2021.