High school students getting familiar with forest-based bioeconomy

High school students in Fiskars

Drones are utilised also in the forestry. This was demonstrated for the high school students during their excursion to Fiskars.

A new curriculum will come into use in Finnish high schools in 2021. One target is to strengthen the collaboration between high schools, universities and working life. Forest sector wanted to be in the forefront and created a pilot course supported by Finnish National Agency for Education. During this optional pilot course, the students will get a broad perspective to the forest sector covering the topics from sustainable silviculture to sustainable forest-based products.

“I have been astonished how clever the high school students are. They look at the topics from the perspectives of a sustainable society and world,” says the course coordinator, Eveliina Pokela from Finnish Forest Association. Eveliina also points out that “I have to thank the professors in the academia who have open-mindedly planned the educational sessions and been ready to change the plans due to the pandemic situation for remote teaching and interactive learning sessions.”

18 students from three high schools in Southern-Finland are participating the course. One of the participants is Vilja Vanonen from Lahden yhteiskoulu. “I am interested in the climate change and biodiversity and I have got new perspectives to these topics during the course. I feel that forest sector is the future’s field. It enables to solve today’s challenges and bring new sustainable solutions to the market.” She already has future plans. “I would like to bring modern and sustainable approach to the future. Therefore, I will apply to study forest sciences. My future work could be related to forest politics which I feel super interesting,” concludes the last year student in the high school.

The students have been able to choose between remote lectures and teaching sessions from Helsinki University and Aalto University. The Introduction to forest-based bioeconomy theme in the ForestBioFacts serves also as a learning material. In addition, the course includes this year a visit to Fiskars and a company visit remotely to Stora Enso. “Hopefully we are able to arrange practical laboratory exercises also in the future, points out professor Jouni Paltakari from Aalto University, acting also as an editor for the “Natural fibre products” theme in the ForestBioFacts.

The initial feedback received encourages to continue the development work. The aim is to scale up the course country-wide, becoming part of the new curriculum for high schools. “I haven’t had this kind of studies at the high school before. This has been a unique course with its versatile and practical material. I have been able to get familiar widely with the forest sector”, says Vilja with a smile on her face.