Author Archives: Ilmari Hannula

About Ilmari Hannula

Project designer in Innokas Network

Visit to Marymount School of New York

I had an opportunity to visit Marymount School of New York on my last day in US. Marymount School of New York is an independent, Catholic day school for girls. The motto of the school is: Challenge yourself to grow in heart and mind – who wouldn’t agree with that. School has 760 students from 3-years-old to 18-year-old. Class sizes are small, only 16-17 students in one group. The school promotes development of the lifelong skills of critical thinking and problem solving. One school year costs 15 000$, but even though the costs are high, there are more applicants to school than the school can take.

Marymount School is known from its three Maker Spaces. Spaces are perfectly organized, there is plenty of stuff to play, create, design, build – innovate either alone or with peer or with group. One educator is responsible for all the equipment set in shelves, tables and lockers; educator is present at Maker Space all day long to help students if they have problems. I truly fell in love with this enthusiasm and creativity. Students are fostered to making culture. I saw beautiful combination of Art pieces and Technology, I look up to teachers’ innovative mind sets. STEAM in action!

Students work with iPADs or MacBook Airs in a 1:1 environment; Marymount School is an Apple Distinguished School. The school works with organizations like Metropolitan Museum of Art and DNA Learning Center Manhattan. School has even two classrooms at MET, and Art teachers from both the museum and from the school teach students. I found this very inspiring: school community broadens to another community, wau! ‘Dream it. Design it. Make it.’ says school’s webpage. No wonder the Marymount School of New York is one of the best in whole USA.

Mr Don Buckley, who hosted me during my visit, is an educator and designer. It was good to have somebody taking care of me, because the school building was so big, divided into many floors and sections. The oldest part of the school building is from turn-of-the-century, a beautiful building with crystal chandeliers and wall-to-wall-carpets. The school was established in 1926 by Mother Marie Joseph Butler. The second building, the enlargement, is from 1984. Nowadays the school needs more space, and a new school building will be build in next two years. The budget for 10-floor school building in Harlem is around 100 000 000$. Just for comparison, the most expensive school building, Opinmäki comprehensive school in Espoo, cost 52 million euros on 2015. Mr Buckley is responsible for taking teachers’ ideas and opinions to architectures, it is a co-design project with staff, engineers and architectures. This reminds me of participatory design, a co-design model I have worked with here in Finland .

Marymount School has different sorts of libraries for students at different ages. Small children’s library is a small cozy place with one, huge armchair in the middle of the room. The library for upper secondary school students is a silent place for reading and individual working. Librarian said, it is important to have a silent room in a city like New York. For groupwork, there are many open working spaces around the buildings, students are free to choose their place of work.

Compared to Finland teachers’ don’t have to obtain Master degree from the University. Teachers negotiate their own salaries, the salary rate is from 60 000$ to 120 000$ / year depending on how effective and capable teacher is. Marymount School provides its teachers a health insurance, retirement advisory and a hot, daily lunch. And, two teachers mentioned to me, a 10 week vacation in summer is a fine priviledge to have.

I learned so much during my visit, that I hope next week when I’ll host two teachers from Marymount school in my school, they would have as good experience as I had.

Raini sipilä

Growing mind and understanding in FabLearn 2019 –conference at Columbia University, New York

The 8th Annual FabLearn flagship conference on Maker Education took place at Columbia University, New York on 9th – 10th March. The conference theme What Role does Maker Education Play in a World with Growing Social and Environmental Challenges attracted over 400 educators, stakeholders and researchers from 23 different countries to participate in inspiring lectures, workshops and poster sessions. From Finland there were three Innokas Network presentations: one poster in Educator track (by Raini Sipilä, Kati Sormunen and Tiina Korhonen), one student poster (by Matias Ola, Sini Riikonen, Tiina Korhonen and Kati Sormunen) and one short paper (by Tiina Korhonen, Laura Salo and Kati Sormunen).

Columbia University is one of the oldest universities in US, established in 1754. It is also a former university of John Dewey whose idea of learning by doing doesn’t get old. During the conference the audience was challenged to ask themselves questions about ‘who is making?’ and ‘why making?’.

Keynote speaker Sylvia Martinez highlighted the word ‘making’ from different angles. Interesting part was her prediction on Future: biotech is the new digital – we will move forward from cyberphysical to cyberbiological future. Martinez also emphasized sharing as the best way to ensure understanding. She encouraged teachers to empower their students to understand their capability to control machines and therefore affect to their own future.

Amanda Cox, the second keynote speaker, came from The New York Times. Cox is a data editor and she is responsible for both written and visual content in NYT. Ms Cox spoke about scale, context, patterns and annotation levels and how these are shown in digital way. In digital newspaper settings are able to create interactively: the reader is able to affect how or what she/he sees and reads. Amanda Cox said, it is important to transform data into a form in which it is more understandable – for example data is put into familiar environment.

Panels on both Saturday and Sunday were more or less representatives’ presentations on their projects. All discussion topics were related with making somehow: Making in an age of social unrest, Making without destroying the planet: is it possible?, Making for film and theatre and Making around the world: Experiences and lessons learned. For me the most fruitful panel was the last one: educators from six different countries shared their experience on maker culture on their own country.

Significantly important notice is, that nobody works alone. Everything is made in collaboration with other people. Short and full papers were written together, young makers and educators had worked with teams to get their presentations to the conference. My visit with Innokas Network experts was amazing. My mind and understanding grew because of the conversations I had with all kinds of people. People who seemed to be as interested in making and designing as I am.


Raini Sipilä

Innokas-Network’s robotics tournament


Since the beginning of April YLE has broadcasted a tv-show called Robomestarit. It airs every Sunday morning. It is a production based on the idea of a robotics tournament designed by Innokas-network. It aims to present robotics and coding while also showing what they make possible. At the same time the show is both entertaining and pedagogical.

Last weekend we got to see the finals of X-Sumo and Rescue and who won the competitions. The last episode of the show will be aired next Sunday. For both Freestyle and Dancing with robot it is time for the finals!

Yle/ Rami Pohjalahti.

The different competition tracks of Robomestarit are based on Innokas-Network’s robotics tournament which is held every year in different cities. This year it takes place in Tampere, 14th to 16th of May. The tracks are Pelastus (Rescue), X-Sumo, Tanssii robotin kanssa (Dancing with a robot) and Freestyle. The last mentioned has three teams competing in different challenges every week. . The winner is announced in the last episode.  Dancing with the robot is a different kind of track. If you want to win you need to do it on social media and get the most votes. X-Sumo works as a cup where two teams put their robots to the test of strength in robo sumo-wrestling and winner continues in the race. Rescue track puts the robots in different kind of situations where their mission is to transport a fuel tank to the space ship.


The teams taking part come from all over Finland. Most of the participants are 5th or 6th graders but there are some exceptions. Many of the teams have won their regional preliminary competitions and this is their final step.

Every episode lasts about half an hour. Naturally most of it is about the competitions but there is also much more to see and learn. One of the show’s presenter, Innokas-Network’s educator Juho Kemell has visited different kind of working environments that have robots. Those visits are an educational peek to the importance that robotics have in problem solving. While of course it is interesting to just watch the show the viewers also get to take part through social media and open challenges. Best viewer challenge participants get their videos shown in the program. Every episode has also an educational part, the ABC of coding. It teaches the very basics of coding and getting more into detail every episode. Don’t forget to check out their YouTube channel with interesting extra content.


More info:

In YLE areena:

Robomestarit in Youtube:

(All the pictures are property of YLE)

Visiting the filming of Robomestarit!

At the YLE (Finnish National Broadcasting company) studio in Tampere adults and kids are moving smoothly between the lobby, dressing room and studio. The filming of the Robomestarit tv-show has started. The day starts when the presenters and the teams arrive. Last minute corrections are made to the outfits and people are getting familiar with the studio. The children seem really excited in their cool custom-made outfits and the atmosphere is electric. The schedule shows minute by minute what is going to happen during long day which ends in the filming of the actual episode. In addition to the filming in the studio, the day also consists of group and individual interviews.

The teams have a strict daily schedule. Participants go to make-up like any other TV stars. There is a lot of waiting and many children have travelled a long way to be here. Still everybody thinks it’s surely worth it. When following the filming of the interviews it is great to hear the young participants speak about their teams and how the skills they are practicing will help them in the future. In the middle of a relaxed chat with the children one of the director comes and takes them back to the studio. The face shots need to be retaken. Here we go again…

One of the presenters of Robomestarit, Juho Kemell, works as an educator in The Innokas Network. He has arrived early in the morning to get ready for the day’s filming. -“It has been quite a hassle which means it will be a great day!” Some material has been filmed before today. Juho and the crew have been visiting different kinds of companies during the last couple of months and observed different robots used in various industries. The judges are also preparing for the day and going through the most important rules regarding the upcoming contests. -“It is an awesome show!” says Erkki Hautala, an X-sumo judge and Innokas Network’s educator while guiding the teams to test and prepare their robots.

Yle/ Rami Pohjalahti.

Melissa Kaivo, known to children from the TV-show Galaxi, is also a part of the production. She is one of the presenters and a travelling journalist who visits the teams’ schools. She thinks that the live-aspect of the show is very exciting. Not everything is filmed beforehand thus letting all of the viewers, teams and presenters really live through the show throughout the spring while the show airs. She also thinks it is cool that the viewers get to influence and take part in the program through social media.

The fog machines are blowing in the studio and the atmosphere is almost too impatient. The audience, teams and the presenters are ready. Lights, cameras, applause! What happens after this can be seen on YLE channels or YLE-areena.

The Innokas Network and YLE are putting together and filming an 8episode long TV-show Robomestarit in the spring 2018. The Robotics Society in Finland is supporting the production with the reallife examples. The show is based on InnokasNetwork‘s robotics tournament which is held every year. In the competition school age children take part in different competitions and do  problem solving using robotics. For example, “Dancing with the robot” and X-Sumo (Sumo wrestling for robots).

You can find more about the show and the broadcast schedule from The Innokas Network’s webpage. Or visit or YLE streaming service at this moment all material is unfortunately available only in Finnish.

The Hong Kong-visit to Espoo

On Tuesday morning 13.2. At 9.00 they arrived to Jalavapuisto School, just like we’ve agreed: Connie, Maggie, Chun Yin, Jonas, Rene, Chau Ming, Josephine, Kit and Flora. Some of them were from our friend school Holm Glad 2. And some were Ediversity personnel.

That morning the whole Jalavapuisto School was gathered in the gym because of the assembly. Our 9 guests were welcomed to our school by the ’Japu-song’ (Japu=Jalavapuisto).

Then they were divided into 3 groups and 6K girls and boys took them to the guided tour around the school. Both the guests and the guides seemed to be pleased and their conversation went on after the tour ended.

From 10 til 14.15 it was time for the visitors to either keep or observe the lessons. They were now operating in two groups and visiting the classes 2K, 3K, 4K and 6K.

My on class 2K got a chance to learn to write Chinese letters in Calligraphy lesson. There were 5 teachers telling and leading the children to the ’secrets’ of Chinese way of writing. 2K end up writing the word ’Blessing’ on the beautiful red rice paper. The paper should be turned upside down and attach on the door at the time of Chinese New Year celebration, that’s what we were told. The second lesson we spent with the questions 2K had made for our guests. We all learned so much!

During that day I had to pinch myself few times: Can this really be happening?! Are they really here after almost 1,5 year co-operation? The email about their coming in early October…and now they are here!

Many, many emails, pictures, videos have been sent during this time. My class has been studying and learning about Hong Kong at the Science- and Arts lessons. And now all the studying really showed to be worth of something!

”Welcome to Hong Kong. Let’s not end this collaporation now”, were the last words from them for our principal and me before they left.

Mäkynen Hanna

Guests from Hong Kong

On Monday February 12th our dear guests (14) from Hong Kong arrived. It was so nice to finally meet them after chatting with them through Skype, email and seeing some videos and pictures! I really appreciate the fact that they came to see us and had also prepared lessons!

Theme of the week was friendship because of Valentine’s Day. The student’s union had planned a colour week. Each day we had a colour in which we were encouraged to dress. The colour of Monday was red. We started the day by going to see our schools talent show “Mestarit lavalla”. Children had prepared many performances (dancing, singing, gymnastics, hobby introduction video etc.) and a small group of teachers (including me) performed too. Together we also sang a song about friendship, in English. Our guests really enjoyed the show and they appreciated the fact that the kids had really prepared the performances all by themselves without teachers’ involvement.

Then we all went outside during break time. They were amazed on how freely we let the kids play outside. They were wondering why we don’t have fences and more teachers monitoring the break time so that the kids won’t get hurt.

After the break we gathered together to have some tea and discuss about our school. Besides me, there were also our principal Pirjo and one of our teachers Heidi. Our time ran out so we didn’t have that much time to introduce our school properly. But I sent the introduction slides and our weekly schedules to Cam later.
After lunch we went to say hi to a number of classes and then it was already time for them to go.

On Tuesday and Wednesday they organized lessons for 4th, 3rd and 5th graders. First they told us some things about their culture and especially about the Chinese New Year. Then they asked the students to prepare a drum using toilet paper cones and some extra material. It was great to see how excited the kids were and how they used their creativity in making different drums. Then we’d sing a Chinese song and play those drums. What a lot of fun that was! 😊

On Tuesday and Wednesday the guests went to observe some lessons to different classrooms. On Wednesday there was also a magic show by a real magician. Our student’s union had requested it. On Wednesday the guests also interviewed our principal before leaving.

I hope they had a lovely trip here in Finland! It sure was amazing to have them here!