RCE Espoo-2017

1. Project Title: 
Let´s learn sustainable lifestyle together, teachers and students!
2. Thematic area/s addressed by the project
3. Project partner contact information : 
Keinumäki School City of Espoo
Main Contact: 
Anna Maaria Nuutinen
Anna Maaria Nuutinen
Keinumäki School and the member of Association for Science Education
Alternative project contact: 
Dr. Arja Kaasinen
University of Helsinki
Dr. Maija Aksela
LUMA center Finland
Ms. Irmeli Mikkonen
Ms. Elina Pilke
Finnish Nature Center Haltia
4. Project type
5. Project description
Provide a short description of the project including strategies, regional challenges, aims and specific project activities.: 

When we are talking about education for sustainable development (ESD) we are talking about our Planet, the life in the planet and the sustainable future of the planet. We are talking about plants, animals and micro organisms in their enviroments. We are talking about people and our need for food, water, air, medicines, place to rest and live. When we are talking about education for sustainable development we are talking about the quality education, teaching and learning and how to transform our education towards sustainable development and the sustainable future.

ESD is expected to empower learners to take informed decisions and responsible actions for environmental stewardship and a just society, while respecting cultural diversity. ESD is holistic and transformational education which addresses designing teaching and learning in an interactive, learner-centered way that enables exploratory, action oriented and transformative learning and stimulating learning and promoting core competencies, such as critical and systemic thinking, collaborative decision-making, and taking responsibility for present and future generations (UNESCO, 2014).

We created at Keinumäki school a new Science School model based on the SCIS (Science Curriculum Improvement Study) learner-centered inquiry based program. SCIS program gives a theory for teaching and learning that promotes critical and systemic thinking needed in ESD. Our purpose was to find ways how sustainable lifestyle is rooted in our schoolculture and our every day life. Throught networking with local partners, university and associations we chose the best methods we knew. We had plants, different kind of seeds, animals in aquariums and terrariums, metal -and stone collections, magnets, batteris, bulbs, compass, microscopes, solar panel car etc in Science School.

We started  with the new  Science School model in primary school as pilot project in 2015-2016. Next year we implemented it for all primary school students.  This year 2016-2017 for secondary level as well for pre-school Vallipuisto kindergarten in the city of Espoo 

The SCIS program is intended to affect the ways children think and develop their thinking skills. It is expected to influence how children reason and make decisions about challenges they face as teenagers and adults. Such thinking and decision-making will determine their responses of personal and societal issues: how to care of my health and wellbeing, should I vote for or against the use of coal as an energy source of my community (Thier & al, 1978).

The scientific literacy

Through investigation, scientists’ understanding of nature advances from simple hypotheses to complex theories. At the same way children’s thinking advances from the concrete to the abstract as they accumulate experiences and ideas (Thier & al.,1978).

In order to reach the objective of scientific literacy, developers of SCIS felt that the science curriculum had to provide students with experiences that are different from their usual ones. These experiences should be direct and concrete and not read from the books or told by teachers. There should be substantial guidance and discussion and opportunity to relate the unusual experience to the more usual experience. In this way, the abstract concepts that are at the basis of the scientific point of view could be built up. As the children made further observations they would look at them more scientifically. The abstractions form a link between children’s earlier experiences and later experiences (Kratoclvil & Crawford, 1971).

Scientific literacy derives from basic knowledge, investigate experiences, and curiosity. In the SCIS program these three factors are integrated, balanced and developed through the children’s involvement with basic scientific concepts (interaction, matter, energy, organism and ecosystem), process-oriented concepts (property, variable, system, reference object, scientific theory), and challenging problems for investigation. Process-oriented concepts lead to development of competency in observing, describing, comparing, classifying, measuring, interpreting evidence, predicting, and experimenting. SCIS program helps children to form positive attitudes (curiosity, inventiveness, critical thinking, and persistence) toward science as they explore phenomena (Thier & al., 1978).

In her Master’s thesis Anna Maaria Nuutinen studied how did the fifth graders master core concepts of biology in SCIS program. Data were gathered in Spring 2005 in a comprehensive school in City of Espoo. The achievement test had three parts. The first part of the test measured mastering of ’organism concept’, classification of organisms, and justifications for the conceptions. The second task measured mastering of ’food chain’ concept, and the third task measured mastering of concepts ’producer’, ’consumer’ and ’decomposer’ in ecosystem. According to the results of this study, SCIS program is a very good option to teach basic concepts of natural sciences in lower grade levels of the comprehensive school (Nuutinen 2017).


Kratoclvil, D. W. & Crawford, J. J.(1971). Science Curriculum Improvement Study report no. 4. Palo Alto, California.

Nuutinen, A.M. (2007). Master’s thesis: How did the fifth graders master core concepts of biology in SCIS program. Faculty of Behavioral Sciences. Department of Applied Sciences of Education. University of Helsinki.

UNESCO. (2014). Shaping the Future We Want: UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014) Final Report. UNESCO.

Thier, H., Karplus, R., Lawson, C.A., Knott, R. & Montgomery, M. (1978). The Rand McNally SCIS Program. Teachers Guide. Parts: Life Cycles, Energy. Chicago: Rand McNally & Co.

7. Provide references and reference materials : 
6. Project status
On Going
We started to develop a new Science school model that promotes ESD in school culture in 2015.
We have materials for educators and teachers from kindergarten to the secondary education. We will continue our developing process and we have already spoken with researchers about studies. It is important to find a new solutions how to promote sustainable lifestyle now and in the future.

According Seppo Saloranta study (2017), the implementation of education for sustainable development in Finnish comprehensive schools varies considerably, even though the curriculum is the same for everyone. Class teachers only occasionally employ styles of teaching that reflect the ethos of education for sustainable development- i.e. child-centred and nature-related exploration and experiential teaching methods. It can be concluded from this research that teaching styles generally remain quite ‘traditional’. Class teachers rarely use engaging, experiential, hands-on real-world-situation approaches for teaching the style of pedagogy that is most appropriate for education for sustainable development. In terms of school culture, teachers’ working methods differed little from each other. Seppo Saloranta doctoral thesis: The importance of a school’s culture in implementing Education for Sustainable Development in Basic Education grades 1–6 Schools

See also
High Performance Education Fails in Sustainability? - A Reflection on Finnish Primary Teacher Education
Systems Thinking for Understanding Sustainability? Nordic Student Teachers’ Views on the Relationship between Species Identification, Biodiversity and Sustainable Development
8. Tagging