Enjoy Science and Partners Make HRH Princess Sirindhorn’s Vision for TCU a Reality
For a seed to grow into a strong, towering tree, it needs plenty of water, access to sunlight, and fertile soil. Students are no different, as they, too, require a proper environment in order to prosper. The Chevron Enjoy Science Project strives to build the ideal environment inside and outside the classroom that will push students to reach their full potential in STEM fields. In 2016, the project supported Thailand Children’s University (TCU) events, an initiative launched by Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn in 2012, as part of its push to spark young people’s interest in science.
Consistent with the vision of Enjoy Science, TCU provides students the opportunity to perform engaging, hands-on activities that teach them how to use scientific thinking to solve challenging, real-world problems. At TCU events, professors, university students, and STEM professionals guide primary and secondary students through these activities, helping the students develop critical thinking and inquisitive skills, and, most importantly, gain an appreciation for science and its possibilities.
Enjoy Science collaborates with the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA), the Institute for the Promotion of Teaching Science and Technology (IPTST), and 18 Thai universities to bring TCU to fruition. Seeking to increase the impact of TCU, the partners brought experts from the LUMA Centre in Finland to share their experience about using project-based learning to strengthen science education. Moving forward, the partners will utilize the LUMA Centre’s lessons about integrating STEM concepts into project-based activities to enhance Thai students’ knowledge about and interest in science.
The partners have received overwhelmingly positive feedback from parents and students about TCU, and early results show that participants are more interested in and informed about science and its career possibilities. In the long-term, the university partners will conduct research on the impact of TCU on the career choices of participants.
TCU is one of several initiatives carried out by Enjoy Science to raise awareness about the importance of STEM education among students, parents, policymakers, and the general public. Enjoy Science also supports Enjoy Science Careers, NSM Science Caravan, Young Maker Contest, and the Bangkok Mini Maker Faire. In less than two years, 7,886 students have participated in Enjoy Science awareness raising activities.
In less than two years, the Chevron Enjoy Science Project’s TVET component has made tremendous strides in promoting comprehensive workforce development. The TVET component’s early success stems from a focus on strengthening teachers through high-quality professional development training and the provision of high-impact, research-based curricula. To this end, the project recently localized the Active Physics® curriculum with It’s About Time®, a leading STEM publisher in the United States, for the benefit of Thai vocational schools. From 10-28 October 2016, the project organized a training course led by Dr. Arthur Eisenkraft, a Distinguished Professor of Science Education at the University of Massachusetts – Boston and the lead author of Active Physics®, who detailed the curriculum to 20 master trainers and 35 TVET teachers. The curriculum provides teachers with project-based learning approaches that encourage students to think like scientists and engineers, cultivating genuine interest in the subject matter in the process.
The training was part of the continuous professional development that Enjoy Science delivers to teachers from TVET Hub schools. These teachers will bring high-impact practices to their own classrooms along with hands-on learning materials to support highly engaging and authentic “real-world” projects that guide instruction and serve to organize their learning. To date, 16,324 TVET students and 4,060 workers have benefitted from the project. For more information about Active Physics® in Thailand, view the video: http://bit.ly/DrArthurIAT.
On-going Professional Development Critical to Building Enjoy ScienceTeachers
Raising the STEM skills of students is one of Thailand’s most pressing needs, and the Chevron Enjoy Science Project is working diligently to strengthen teachers as the primary drivers responsible for creating an internationally competitive workforce. The project has developed a core group of Master Teachers who transfer best practices in science and math education to their peers throughout Thailand. From October 16-18 and 21-28, the project and local university partners led workshops for Master Teachers from Khon Kaen, Samut Prakarn, Chiang- Mai, Songkhla, and Nakhon Si Thammarat that detailed how to design effective Professional Development (PD) training for other teachers.
To help teachers create a powerful learning environment, the project engages school leaders, Mentors, and even student laboratory assistants into its robust support system. The project ensures that each group understands and can fulfill its role in an effort to enable teachers to focus on what is most important: developing STEM and critical thinking skills among students. Through its current five STEM Hubs, Enjoy Science is administering professional development training to teachers from 371 schools across Thailand. In addition, the project now has 60 Master Teachers and 27 mentors that provide continuous support to Hub teachers.