Why so many children had come to school on Saturday morning, 23 September? It’s because it was time for Finscape - a Day in Finland. The Finland100 secret agents had come to solve the mysteries of Finland at GEMS World Academy (Singapore).
To promote the Finnish education system, Suomi Finland 100 Singapore (SF100SG) organised "A day in Finland - Finscape event" for children and adults. Finscape is an exciting learning experience simulating an escape room challenge. By solving clues, riddles, and puzzles related to Finland, the children were encouraged to work together and deepen their knowledge about Finland. Finscape promotes collaboration, communication, creativity and critical thinking - the four C's of 21st century learning. The activities were designed and led by a team of Finnish teachers.
The day was opened by Katriina Benedetti, the project director of SuomiFinland 100 Singapore followed welcome words by HE Paula Parviainen, the Ambassador of Finland. First guest speaker was Dylah Soh - a 14-year-old Singaporean, who advised parents how to get their children to dream big. He told parents not to tell their children off since it would only teach them to say ‘No’. Dylan also emphasised that failure is an essential part of a learning journey.
After the welcome words and Dylan Soh’s speech the children were leaving the Auditorium and moving to Finscape. They circled through six escape rooms. Every room had one Finnish related theme and a mystery to be solved - three Summerlands and three Winterlands. In the rooms the children were using a wide range of tools such as Morse coding, red reveal glasses, UV light and magnifying glasses. They also needed to count to reveal codes in order to open number locks. All these led into solving a designated master for one particular room. The day was all about working together and having fun!
Summerland 1 took children on a trip to a traditional a Finnish summerhouse. By solving puzzles and matching animal sounds to animal pictures they learned a great deal about Finnish animals. (They also learned that the leopard is not native to Finland but a lynx.) The children were introduced the traditional Finnish national instrument, ‘kantele’, and they were encouraged to play it.
Summerland 2 was ‘Kauppatori’, which is a market place by the sea in Helsinki, the capital of Finland. The kids were challenged to solve who or what had stolen the strawberries from an old lady selling vegetables and berries. Guess who they found to be guilty? It was nobody else than an angry bird.
The President’s Castle was the venue for Summerland 3. There the agents assisted the investigator to find out who had stolen President’s Nokia mobile phone. First, they had to find out where Finland and its capital were located before taking a Finnair flight to Helsinki. Eventually, by naming very Finnish things, they found out that the phone was not stolen after all, but President had accidentally forgotten it to Kimi Raikkonen’s sauna.
Finns are crazy about sports, especially winter sports. Winterland 1 was a sporty place where the agents found out why l a couple is ice-skating on the dark lake. They experienced the polar night and coldness of the winter and learned about winter sports that the climate of Finland enables. They were ordering snowflakes by Finnish numbers using dictionary sheets. Hopefully they are now able to recall some numbers in Finnish.
Winterland 2 had Santa’s Grotto in place. Santa had lost his glasses and needed help to find them. Once the Rudolf the Rednose Reindeer had survived agents’ spontaneous snowball attack, he led the way to missing glasses. When a Christmas present was unwrapped the glasses were found and returned to the Santa. After that Santa listened children’s wishes for this Christmas. One little person was asking Santa to do all his homework for the whole year as a gift.
In Winterland 3 the children were welcomed by the northern lights. The children were following animal tracks on snow and figured out that the tracks were made by brown bear. They learnt about the brown bear and hibernation. Unlike many kids thought the majority of bear’s nutrition is fish and berries not the meat.
During recess the children had an opportunity to meet the adorable Moomin and unlock their way to Moomin lollies.
At the end of the day the children enjoyed Finnish school meal, macaroni casserole. It is the all-time favourite dish for Finnish kids. Did you know that Finland was the first country in the world to serve free school meals? Free school meal has been catered in Finnish schools since 1948.
While the secrets agents were solving the riddles adults were entertained by Finnish educational experts.
Maarit Rossi, Varkey Global Teacher Prize Finalist 2016 & Jury Member 201, sent a strong message to parents how mathematics and mathematical thinking should be taught based on authentic, real life experiences. When children are learning by doing and with hands on materials, they learn best. Learning is a collaborative process where all students, regardless their abilities in mathematics, should work together to solve mathematical problems. ‘Drill it, Kill it’ was one of the mantras that Ms Rossi highlighted. Drilling has a part to play in mathematics, but there needs to be a balance and majority of teaching and learning should not be based on drilling. Ms Rossi reminded that in Finland we are only having 3 hours of mathematics per week, yet we are still doing very well in PISA-results.
Peter Vesterbacka, Ex-Mighty Eagle of Rovio (Angry Birds), Brand Breaker at Lightneer advising parents how to make learning fun.
Please have a sneak peak to Finscape.
More photos of the event on Flickr
We asked the agents few comments about the day. 1. What did you learn about Finland today? 2.What was your favourite activity/mystery?
1. It is sometimes cold and you can do ice-skating.
2. Who stole the strawberries?
1. Helsinki is by the sea.
2. All of them were cool but my favourite was the secret agent of President’s castle.
1. Kantele is a Finnish instrument.
2. Sauli Niinistö lost his Nokia phone, the agent and using UV-light.
2. Aeroplane journey at the President’s Castle.
1. Northern lights
2. The Investigator and the aeroplane at the President’t Castle.
1. The land is frozen
2. Winterland 3 (Finnish animals in winter) with the bear.
1. It is very cold and when it is winter the sun doesn’t come up.
2. Winterland 2 (Santa’s Grotto) with the Santa and the reindeer
1. Sometimes the sun doesn’t rise and it is very cold.
2. The one with the bear. (Finnish animals in winter)
Photo courtesy of Marica Salokangas.