Robot clubs for children and young people in East Helsinki
So far, robot clubs have been organised in four schools: Vuoniity Comprehensive School, Puistopolku Comprehensive School, Aurinkolahti Comprehensive School and Laakavuori Primary School. In the autumn, robot clubs may also be launched in some other schools. The clubs are organised for the schools' own pupils.
Clubs filled up immediately
Vuoniity Primary School has been running robot clubs two days a week. They attracted particular interest from pupils in grades 2–5. Initially, 50 schoolchildren signed up for the robot clubs. Due to the great popularity, the decision was made to set up two clubs. The funding from OmaStadi enabled the purchase of the construction kits used in the work and payment for those running the clubs.
Lego Education Spike kits are used to build and program the robots. Programming instructions are read from laptops. Photo: Kimmo Brandt.
The clubs took a break during the summer holidays, but will resume again in the autumn
At Vuoniity Primary School, the robot clubs are run by teachers Anna Laine-Çam and Heini Auvinen. Laine-Çam works as a teacher in a special needs class. She has previous experience with robots from the ‘Robot Stadissa’ event, which she produced. As part of the team, she is responsible for supervising the construction of the robots and starting the work.
“Robot clubs are a great addition to the range of school clubs. We have been able to buy new equipment for the school through the OmaStadi project. In a robot club, children learn to understand robotics and strengthen their own programming skills,” says Laine-Çam.
Heini Auvinen works as a teacher of mathematics, physics and data processing. She is particularly responsible for supervising the programming of robots by the club members. Work in the classroom is calm and focused.
“Programming is the most enjoyable thing," says Eikka Äyhynmäki who enjoys his club and intends to carry on participating in the autumn.
The schoolchildren find robot clubs the most enjoyable way to build robots. Photo: Kimmo Brandt.
East Helsinki lacked the opportunity to engage in robotics
The person who made the suggestion, Mikko Poutala, is Training Manager at the Finnish Fire Officers' Association. He lives in Vartioharju in East Helsinki. It was important to Poutala that children's voices are also heard in participatory budgeting, and he asked his nine-year-old son what new things he would like to see in East Helsinki. The boy replied that he was interested in robotics. After researching the matter, Poutala found that there was no club or group in East Helsinki at the time where people could engage with robots.
“This could also be of interest to other people in the area,” says Poutala. He thought that his son could find something new to do. At the same time, he could also gain experience of making a difference in society. They wrote the text of the suggestion together. The educational aspect was important to Poutala. He hopes that his own son will learn to follow what is happening in Helsinki and use his voice when he has the chance.
Poutala intends to submit his suggestion in the third round of OmaStadi starting in October. It is also possible that he will submit another suggestion together with his son. He says it is easy to find new subjects in the local environment to use as the basis for a suggestion.
The third new round of participatory budgeting in Helsinki will be launched in October. Between 2 and15 October, Helsinki residents can submit their ideas on how the city should use the EUR 8.8 million. A vote will be held next spring to decide which proposals will move forward. The proposals with the most votes will then be developed together with the residents.