A Gift to honor the 15th anniversary of our unit: New ideas for chemistry education and teacher training

In honor of the 15th Anniversary of the Unit of Chemistry Teacher Education in Department of Chemistry, a special issue is published as the latest issue of LUMAT-B journal.

The special issue contains 18 articles about the chemistry education research carried out at the University of Helsinki.

Chemistry teaching and learning is one of the areas of focus in research in the Department of Chemistry in the University of Helsinki. Research creates a base for supporting the understanding of chemistry and for the development of good-quality chemistry teaching from basic education to higher education and to teacher education. With the use of research based teacher education in chemistry, we support chemistry teaching and its development communally.

The writers of these articles are  PhDs, who have graduated from our unit, and our doctoral students. In the articles they highlight their own research and describe briefly the central concepts and topics of chemistry education that relates to their research.  The writers also bring out how teachers are able to exploit this new information in their chemistry teaching.


ChemistryLab Gadolin – the research and development centre of our unit

kemma-logoChemistry education centre, Kemma is a part of national LUMA-centre.

The main objectives of Kemma are to support in-service and pre-service chemistry teachers in increasing the standard of learning and competence in chemistry, and also to develop chemistry education and chemistry education research, keeping in mind the need to increase the interest towards the subject itself.

ChemistryLab Gadolin gadolin_logois a learning environment supporting and developing chemistry teaching and learning. It also aims to support the positive image of chemistry and offer the educational alternatives in the field of chemistry. The class is named after Johan Gadolin (1760–1852), the founder of Finnish chemistry research and discoverer of the element Yttrium.


Special guest at our unit: Prof. Vesna Ferk Savec

The Unit of Chemistry Teacher Education has had the privilege of having professor Vesna Ferk Savec (bibliography) from the University of Ljubljana as a summer guest.

Currently Vesna Ferk Savec is working as an associate professor of chemistry didactic at the University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Education, Department of Biology, Chemistry and Home Economics.  She is also the head of the Unit of Chemistry and Chemical Education.

“Since 1998, when I joined the University of Ljubljana, my work has been devoted to research in chemistry education and to supporting development of prospective and in-service chemistry teachers through formal as well as informal learning.”

With regard to chemistry teacher education, Vesna Ferk Savec thinks that there are many similarities between Finland and Slovenia. These are based mostly in implementing findings from chemistry and science education research in the courses for prospective teachers.

An idea she hopes to transfer from Finnish experience to Slovenian chemistry teacher’s education is a course that includes collaborative work of pre- and in-service chemistry teachers with experts from industry and companies in order to develop holistic chemistry learning experience for students; on one hand in the context of real-world situations, on the other hand in the framework of the objectives of chemistry curriculum.

Visit filled with good chemistry

This is Vesna Ferk Savec’s fourth visit to Finland.  Her first time was in 1999,  a travel from the north of Lapland to Inari, Sodankylä, a cross the Arctic Circle at Rovaniemi, Kemi, Oulu, Jyväskylä, Tampere, Lahti and finally to Helsinki.

“I was amazed by Finland`s beautiful forests and thousands of lakes and all my following visits confirmed the first impression – it is a wonderful country of very friendly people.”


Vesna Ferk Savec in the courtyard of Helsinki City Museum.

The collaboration with the Unit of Chemistry Teacher Education started in 2001 when prof. Maija Aksela ja prof. Vesna Ferk Savec met each other at a Gordon Research Conference in Oxford and found out they share many common interest.

During the years, they have become not only enthusiastic research fellows, but also good friends. Vesna Ferk Savec comments that spending three months as a visiting professor at the Unit of Chemistry Teacher Education at the Faculty of Science, University of Helsinki has been her wish for a long time.

“It has been a great pleasure, that I have had the opportunity to be involved in many activities in the Unit of Chemistry Teacher Education and LUMA Centre Finland during the time of my visit.”

Vesna Ferk Savec was also invited to participate as a key note speaker at the International Symposium on Science Education (ISSE) 2016 in Lahti, Finland which was held in June 2016.

Pictures: Maija Aksela and Päivi Kousa