NIHERST Embarks on Microscience TT Project in Conjunction with UNESCO
NIHERST is pleased to announce that a pilot project to introduce the UNESCO Global Microscience Experiments Project in Trinidad and Tobago has been approved for implementation by the Ministry of Education.
For this pilot phase twelve (12) schools were selected to participate – six (6) primary and six (6) secondary. The target classes for each school level are as follows:
Primary Schools – Standards 2 & 3
Secondary Schools – Forms 1 & 2
These students are at the cusp of adolescent development in which general attitudes toward education are determined. A thrust in science education at this juncture in their studies aims to increase the number of students interested in science subjects for further studies and careers. The hands-on, practical approach to science facilitated by this project enhances the delivery of science education by teachers and improves students’ understanding and grasp of science concepts. This will contribute to students having a sound scientific base in order to make reasoned decisions and to live in a world which is increasingly becoming dominated by technology.
The UNESCO Global Microscience Experiments Project began in 1997 when international experts from different European countries and USA met with the Executive Director of a company called Somerset Educational Pty Ltd, which produces a variety of interactive educational resources, microscience kits being one such item. The meeting which took place in the Radmaste Centre of Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg, South Africa, resulted in a recommendation to develop a worldwide microscience experiments project intended for developing countries to create opportunities for students to engage in practical experimentation.
In the Caribbean, Guyana has been the flagship country for this project since 2012. UNESCO, Kingston Office in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Guyana, held a two-day workshop (April 28-29, 2015) to introduce the project to other Caribbean countries and present its ultimate goal of regional expansion for this project. Trinidad and Tobago was selected to attend. The UNESCO Global Microscience Experiments Project TT (Microscience TT) is the expansion of this initiative in Trinidad and Tobago.
The microscience kits are mini-laboratories that facilitate hands-on science education. Formulated especially for use in developing countries, the kits are small, inexpensive and virtually unbreakable as opposed to traditional lab equipment, and can be used in any setting. When used properly, this engaging teaching tool enhances the delivery and quality of science and technology education, at the same time promoting inquiry-based learning and encouraging the development of problem-solving and critical-thinking skills.
Less consumables are also used during experimentation with these kits. Multiple studies, including those in the context of Trinidad and Tobago, have found that students usually develop interest in science through practical work ; inclusion of practical inquiry methods in science education fosters curiosity, develops dexterous techniques and skills, facilitates scientific processes and supports the science concepts and theories contained in textbook literature. Practical work is also quicker embedded in the minds of the students, therefore increasing their understanding of and abilities to recall subject material. These kits will be an invaluable tool for discovery and experimentation when a laboratory is not available, such as is the case for most primary schools in Trinidad and Tobago, as well as lower form secondary school classes as lab space is usually occupied by exam classes.
In addition to the benefits of this teaching tool for students, the microscience approach is also intended to improve the competencies of science teachers. Particularly in natural science subjects, curriculum demands are ultimately not met without rigorous practical work as students are required to understand concepts through the development of a critical and scientific attitude, i.e., by participating in activities of observation in order to draw conclusions. Schools are well equipped with information and communication technology (ICT) teaching aids, however bringing the practical nature of science to life is limited by use of computers and other similar tools; utilization of multimedia inadequately simulates the role of a scientist. Use of hands-on apparatus such as the microscience kits for practical work in science education supports the Bloom’s learning theory, thus enhancing the delivery of content by teachers.
With the support of UNESCO and the Ministry of Education, the Microscience TT project intends to improve the delivery of science education to primary school and secondary school students through use of microscience.
The project launch in six primary schools and six secondary schools, took place on Monday 27th November 2017, and will make opportunities for practical experimentation more accessible to students and teachers.