In the new year 2024, students in Riga will have the opportunity to take part in a variety of activities to strengthen their STEAM (Science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) knowledge. This is the second time that members of the «RIGA STEAM Ecosystem» have agreed to meet and discuss the collaboration, which aims to inspire children and young people to acquire the skills and knowledge needed for the future labour market.
The partners agreed that the municipality will cooperate with the Riga Technical University (RTU) Curiosity Centre «Futurimo Riga» to organise specialised classes for schoolchildren. The curiosity centre, which RTU established together with partners including Riga City Council, opened its doors to visitors in spring last year, and children and young people can spend time there learning about natural sciences, interacting and trying out the cognitive possibilities offered by the centre's exhibits, as well as taking part in creative workshops and science shows.
RTU's partnership in STEAM education for children and young people is important as the university has made STEAM education one of its priority areas because it believes that young people need to be motivated to learn science in a targeted way and that universities should be involved in this process. For almost a decade, RTU has been offering a variety of classes at RTU Children and Youth University where children learn the basic laws of physics and chemistry through experiments.
«Universities for Future Engineers» teaches high school students about the work of engineers and provides classes for 12th graders to study the science courses «Physics II» and «Chemistry II» in depth, if schools do not have the resources to teach these courses.
The Riga City Council also plans to organise a «Riga Puzzle Day» event for students, which was well attended in 2023, to provide support for access to special interest education, to plan climate change days for Riga students and teachers, to set up robotics laboratories in pre-schools, to improve the infrastructure of special interest education institutions, to improve the curriculum and to provide further training for teachers in STEAM.
The representatives of the sector raised the issue of including artificial intelligence and its tools in STEAM activities and education, and discussed the need to create a «STEAM school bag» programme in the near future, similar to the existing cultural education programme «Latvian School Bag». During the discussions, it was expressed that more young women should be involved in STEAM fields, their interest in these subjects and fields should be promoted by developing special programmes and activities for more active involvement of this target group.
The aim of the second meeting or breakfast of the «RIGA STEAM Ecosystem» was to promote mutual cooperation between organisations, municipal institutions, companies and the academic sector, whose objectives include the implementation and support of STEAM initiatives, in order to facilitate the sharing of experience, exchange of knowledge and support for STEAM education in Riga municipality.
The event was attended by representatives from RTU and RTU) curiosity centres «Futurimo Riga», «Datorium», «LMT», University of Latvia (UL), RTU Riga Business School, Institute of Solid State Physics of UL, «Riga TechGirls», School of Young Physicists of UL, IT Education Foundation «Start IT», Latvian Association of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Entrepreneurs and International School of Innovation.
The overarching goal of the «Riga STEAM Ecosystem» is to inspire and develop in students the skills and knowledge needed to meet future labour market demands in high-growth sectors, including engineering, creative, digital and life sciences, contributing to the growth of students, the city and the country as a whole.