Thailand has encountered several domestic and international transformations, including economic challenges and competition between countries. This dynamic change demands continuous resilience and emphasizes the importance of human resource development more than ever. One critical step to achieve that goal is to plant the seeds of STEM and 21st-century skills in teaching practice so that educators can arm the new generation with resilience.
Kenan Foundation Asia partnered with IVL Foundation to continue the “Teacher Professional Development” program in Rayong province. With a great intention from IVL Foundation, we develop science subjects in opportunity-expansion schools under the Primary Education Service Area Office 1, Rayong. IVL Foundation selected Kenan to implement a series of workshops for science teachers from the secondary level, focusing on developing learning theories and innovative teaching methods. We successfully empowered 31 teachers through a three-year program who brought a greater impact to over 4,650 students.
This program has localized leading STEM curriculums from the United States to Thailand. We motivate teachers to initiate learning activities and pedagogy to gain knowledge from practical experience. With understanding forming under inquiry-based experiments, not a bookish knowledge, students will create innovation. The program has encouraged teachers to let their students freely apply academic knowledge to real-world challenges. Along with the Professional Learning Community activity, participants will be embarrassed by a welcoming environment and encouraged to share teaching experiences with peers. This activity will reflect the result of the demonstration, in which they all can plan and decide learning topics and goals according to observation and intensive discussion.
Chakarin Klinghom, a science teacher from Chumchon Wat Suwanrangsan School, Rayong, has participated in the Teacher Professional Development both in person and virtually for three years. He has learned various techniques from the program: inquiry-based learning, high-impact practices, participatory learning for students, and online teaching techniques during the pandemic.
Chakarin shared, “For over three years, I have gained tons of scientific knowledge and experiences from the program, whether it be a change of state, purification, reaction activities. All those activities are practical, and I received lots of positive feedback from the kids as they feel more enthusiastic and confident than before. Moreover, I also adapted questions techniques or an evidence-based teaching approach to advance my online class. My students are very excited. I saw them forming critical thinking skills and eventually becoming interested in scientific exploration.”
Warapron Lungsawas, a science teacher from Nikhom Sang Ton Eng 5 School, Rayong, and Sayamol Hongsila from Wathauypong School, also said, “My students usually get excited when I implement a new teaching approach. Some of them are even looking forward to seeing what I bring from the workshop. After I presented scientific thinking to our students, their answering skills have significantly improved as their response is longer and has become more sensible.”
Science is all around us
This program attempts to deliver science teaching methods as most people might not see the connection between science and their daily lives even though it’s closer than one could imagine. It seamlessly disguises itself in every moment and circumstance. Science didn’t stay in a lab, but it is the way of systematic thinking, which makes it an essential skill to accomplish life-long learning.
Science is all around us, said Chakarin. “We study science to understand everything around us and to seek answers by logical reasoning. We didn’t pave the way to force theory on them but develop positive study behavior. I would say scientific habits of mind are the key to improving observation skills and curiosity, which would optimize children to overcome a fast-evolving digital world.”
Another activity that has created sustainable scientific development is the “Innovation Camp” program. This camp is determined to increase students’ exposure to science and 21st-century skills. Students would feel supported throughout the process of inquiry-based learning. After integrating lessons from the classroom and the outside world, students will be able to advance scientific knowledge to real-life challenges.
Sirikarn Chuntimamak, a supervisor at the Primary Education Service Area Office 1, Rayong, said, “After joining Innovation Camp, my students gradually become fond of science as the camp allowed them to expose new field like robotic industry. The new pedagogy has dismantled their limiting perceptions, unlocked their learning potential, and made them more active during the experiment. I can confidently say that I have witnessed their learning behavior change remarkably.”
The project has brought a social impact on educators who pass it down to students. Over 85% of students from opportunity-expansion schools have chosen to study STEM at a higher education level. Most importantly, this program also strengthened the Primary Education Service Area Office to develop learning fundamentals for educators and create a professional learning community for sustainable education.
“This program has optimized the potential of the Primary Education Service Area Office to ignite effective education and fulfill the mission of reaching participation measurement. Teachers have improved as their classes hold a clearer and more systematic approach, with comprehensive experiments. Innovation Camp is truly an opportunity for officers to communicate with school principals. We can illustrate a bigger picture and make sure they understand the mission of bringing STEM on the ground.”