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Pilot Project: Chemistry for Primary Schools

Heureka, the Finnish Science Centre developed in co-operation with the University of Helsinki, the Vantaa City School Administration, Federation of Chemical Industry of Finland, and 15 pilot schools new methods for teaching and learning chemistry and science by using the science centre laboratories and exhibitions as an open learning environment combining informal learning and formal school education.

The purpose of the R&D –pilot project was to find out how the primary school pupils explain some concepts of chemistry. The pilot project evaluated the accomplishment of the aims of the Science Centre Heureka’s Children’s Laboratory. The purpose was also to describe and develop how the pupils experience working in the laboratory under guidance. Secondly, the project also aimed to get information about different types of motivation and their appearance in science centre learning.

The multidiscipline contents of modern science centre exhibitions are large and unique. This content is a reliable learning source – most of informal learning sources are not valid for schools. The main target group of the project were schools, both pupils and teachers. The goal was to use modern, interactive science laboratories and exhibitions combining the best practices of informal learning and formal education.

The goal of this project was to create science education materials by providing the best content already tested in science centres. Access to the results of this project is disseminated on free-ware basis. The project developed new strategies in the form of hand-books, directories and guides to spread best practices within the use of science centres. The main focus was on web-based services.

During the PENCIL-project, Heureka will develop in its Children’s Laboratory five educational chemistry programmes:

The exhibits conveyed to visitors a modern picture of chemistry as a science and an industry, without which our lives would be much more disagreeable, difficult and dangerous.

Target age group
6-12 years old



The science centre used the pedagogical expertise of the other consulting partners (teachers, local school administration, university, and industry) by exchanging information, training the project co-ordinators and promoting project results.

Science centres were made accessible for teachers and schools as open learning environments. Using the information and communication technology strategies was the main element of this co-operation.


  • Documents with best practice for teachers: five laboratory programmes
  • Guidelines for the Heureka guides about how to use the five laboratories
  • Programmes at various grades from age 6 to 12
  • Description and guidelines for how to raise motivation and develop the observation skills of the pupils at the children's lab.

The aim of the Children’s Laboratory was to interest children in experimental natural science observations. Through the programmes, the children were introduced to laboratory work. In addition, we wanted to illustrate the significance of cooperation in scientific research. The idea was to develop solutions to be used also in the schools facilities. The demand for chemistry teaching already in primary school level is rising. This project created innovative solutions for school curriculum to be utilised in every-day school education, too.

Evaluation strategy

  • Each of the laboratory programmes were developed and evaluated for certain age groups between 6-12 years.
  • Partners developed together pre- and pos-materials to be used before and after the visit.

For further information see the PENCIL deliverables:

D10 Assessment of Pilot Projects
Case studies illustrating the work of each of the Pencil pilot projects (pdf, in English).

D24 Pilot Project Outcomes
The objectives, the learning activities used, the methodology employed and the results of the pilot projects (pdf, in English).

Pilot coordinator

Heureka, Vantaa, Finland

Heureka, the Finnish Science Centre, works for advancing public understanding of science. It is run by the Science Centre Foundation, a non-profit organisation, with involvement of the entire Finnish academic community, industry, and public administration. It opened for the public in 1989; since then it has had close to 4 million visitors (annual average 307 000), 27% (annual average 78 000) in school groups. Abroad, Heureka’s exhibitions have been seen by 7 million visitors. The main activities are interactive science exhibitions, demonstrations, laboratories, planetarium and school programmes.

Contact details
Heureka, The Finnish Science Centre
P.O. Box 166
01301 Vantaa, Finland

Project coordinator
Kati Tyystjärvi
Tel int+358-40-9015214
Email kati.tyystjarvi@heureka.fi
Project leader
Dr. Hannu Salmi
Tel int+358-40-9015263
Email hannu.salmi@heureka.fi


Scientific partners

University of Helsinki, Department of Education, Finland
Chemical Industry Federation of Finland

Educational partners

The City of Vantaa, School Administration, Finland

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