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The Lithuanian Network of STEAM Centres Has Been Officially Launched: Klaipėda is Expected to Join in 2023

Today, the schoolchildren of Klaipėda University Žemyna Gymnasium came to the Marine Research Institute of KU to participate in the official opening event of the Lithuanian network of STEAM centres and in the STEAM challenge announced on that occasion,  the pentathlon. The teams of Žemyna Gymnasium schoolchildren were assigned a  task to here and now construct an air-powered vehicle from the given material.

For the official launch of the STEAM centre network, 10 Lithuanian cities, where contemporary youth education centres will be located, were connected through a teleconference. Seven of them will be in regional centres, and three methodological ones, in the largest Lithuanian cities Vilnius, Kaunas, and Klaipėda. They are planned to be launched in about a year.

STEAM (an acronym of the English terms Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Creativity, and Mathematics) is one of the contemporary ways of educating young people, integrating school subjects, forming schoolchildren’s critical and creative thinking, and developing problem-solving skills. The development of the network of STEAM centres, modern laboratory equipment in them, their technological capabilities, and the application of the principle of integrated education in the national education system is expected to contribute to the solution of the problem of a lack of interest of young people in these areas and to the preparation of future innovation leaders. The range of start-up STEAM centres is wide: from astrophysics, robotics, and natural sciences to health sciences or maritime science and technological laboratories. Telšiai, that introduced the regional STEAM centre in a live broadcast, presented a witty translation of the acronym STEAM into the Samogitian language: Stiprūs Tvirti Energingi Atkaklūs Mokslininkai [Strong Firm Energetic Stubborn Researchers].

The STEAM open access centre, which is still being developed at Klaipėda University, will specialise in the maritime area. Four laboratories are to be founded in it: of Standardised Biology – Chemistry, of Physics – Engineering, of Robotics – IT, and a specialised Laboratory of Maritime Sciences and Technologies, corresponding to the specificity of the region. The centre will be located on the KU academic campus, by adapting one of its buildings. The Maritime STEAM Centre is planning to work with schoolchildren of Forms  7-12 and younger and with teachers of STEAM subjects; moreover, methodological recommendations for teachers of regional STEAM centres will be developed and provided.

KU Rector prof. dr. Artūras Razbadauskas, who today participated in the opening event of the Tauragė Regional STEAM Centre, said that what he saw and heard at the STEAM Centre of this city inspired him for productive cooperation. “Tauragė district STEAM centre will specialise in green economy and ecological issues. These are also the directions of KU scientific research, and therefore we see a number of opportunities for cooperation in getting young people interested in science and involving them in scientific activities,” said prof. Razbadauskas.

Viktorija Vaitkevičienė, the manager of the project to be implemented in Klaipėda, said that in these centres, young people will learn to solve real-life situations, using the knowledge they have acquired at school. “Throughout the whole process, there will be a very strong letter A – arts and creativity, which is necessary for every person in order to cope with professional and real-life challenges,” Viktorija Vaitkevičienė emphasised. According to her, these were the STEAM challenges of today, which in Klaipėda were met not only by KU Žemyna Gymnasium, but also by the schoolchildren of engineering classes of Baltija Gymnasium and attendees of Klaipėda Schoolchildren’s Self-Expression Centre. The process was productive and exciting: the schoolchildren designed moving machines, programmed robots, and conducted chemistry experiments.

The project Development of the Maritime STEAM APC Infrastructure is funded by the Operational Programme for EU Structural Funds Investments.