Three years of funding for the teachers’ endorsed Meet a Researcher science education service

The Young Academy Finland has received 110,000 euros from the Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation for its Meet a Researcher service, which offers remote visits by researchers to Finnish educational institutions. Almost half of Finnish high schools have already used the service. The financing guarantees the continuation of the service at its current volume until the end of 2026.

The Young Academy Finland, which operates in connection with the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters, has been running the service since the beginning of 2019. Through the service, elementary school and secondary school teachers from all over Finland can order a researcher for a lesson to deepen the issues discussed and offer students a glimpse into the life of a researcher and the career paths of researchers. Jenny and Antti Wihuri’s foundation has awarded the service a significant grant of 110,000 euros, ensuring the service’s continuation for the next three years.

The service has already sent hundreds of researchers to visit tens of thousands of students virtually. This year, the service expects to cover a total of approximately 12,000 students, of which about 90% are high school students. The service has been very popular, especially among high schools, and has reached almost 50% of all high schools in Finland by autumn 2023.

Almost one hundred percent positive feedback from the teachers

The teachers have already expressed their collective wish for the stable establishment of the service. In 2020–2021, the feedback collected from teachers was 95% positive. During the academic year 2022–2023, most of the feedback collected from high school and upper elementary school students was also very positive. The students have also said that they have learned what scientific thinking is and what the uncertainty of scientific knowledge can mean in a particular field of research. The students’ questions to the researchers are central to the visits via the Meet a Researcher service. One of the goals of the service is to encourage students to develop their thinking skills.

Requests for visits come steadily from all school subjects, and current hot topics have fascinated students this past year. Students and teachers have been particularly interested in topics such as media literacy, biotechnology, Russian history, NATO, animal rights, China, health research, artificial intelligence, learning, and epistemology. The Meet a Researcher service also enables themes that cross subject boundaries, as the visit to a high school course combining religion and psychology in the Fall of 2023, “Conspiracy Theories from the Perspective of Religion and Psychology,” shows.

Growth in every direction

A big thanks for the success of the Meet a Researcher service goes to its researchers, who have spread awareness of the service through their networks. The service exists for all Finnish universities and research communities. Through the service, researchers can popularize their research, influence society, and practice their pedagogical skills. The service can be used to request researchers for all school subjects. The researcher pool already includes more than 500 researchers from a wide variety of fields, from art studies to quantum physics. The researchers have also given positive feedback about the form of cooperation. In the future, the service aims to increase the pool even more so that we can respond to the ever-growing demand from schools.

More information and interview requests:

Kim Krappala, coordinator of the researcher available service
Tel: +358 415138053