Imagine you’re a teacher who has experienced the frustration of seeing rows of yawning faces day after day, year after year – and then you are introduced to a new learning approach accompanied by great resources. Before your eyes, the classroom atmosphere changes as your once reluctant students suddenly are asking questions, searching for answers and participating passionately in activities. What caused the sudden shift? Bringing the learning to life.
This is what happened to Ms. Sunee Daosuk and her 5th grade science students after she joined the IBM Thai Teachers TryScience (TTS) project. Like many teachers in Thailand, Ms. Sunee relied on a teacher-centric approach that emphasized students learning through rote memorization. Under TTS, however, Ms. Sunee was introduced to project-based learning (PBL), a pedagogy that enables students to dive deeply into a subject and search for answers to complex, real-world problems. PBL gives students the space to explore, ask questions and develop outside-the-box solutions. High-impact, student-focused pedagogies like PBL are particularly effective for delivering integrated STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects and building students’ 21st century skills, such as communication, critical thinking and collaboration. By shifting to a student-focused approach, Ms. Sunee immediately recognized a new spirit for learning among her students.
“Students’ lack of enthusiasm had been a key problem for me,” recalled Ms. Sunee. “The project-based learning activities helped my students become more eager and enthusiastic to learn.” Understanding Thailand’s essential need to develop students with STEM knowledge and 21st century skills, IBM partnered with Kenan Foundation Asia in 2015 to launch IBM Thai Teachers TryScience. The two-year project equipped teachers with the knowledge and resources needed to create dynamic classroom environments that foster high-level STEM learning and 21st century skills among students. To achieve the aims of the project, IBM and Kenan built the capacity of teachers to deliver effective STEM lessons through PBL as well as localized IBM’s global Teachers TryScience resources to fit with the Thai curriculum.
In total, the project trained 1,178 teachers from Bangkok and Samut Prakan province who used the high-impact practices to enhance the learning of 121,400 students. Critically, a post-project evaluation found that these teachers are now confident in delivering integrated-STEM lessons through advanced pedagogies, such as PBL, which has resulted in increased student engagement.
The IBM Thai Teachers TryScience project empowered dedicated teachers like Ms. Sunee with the knowledge and resources required to develop students with strong STEM foundations and 21st century skills. By promoting technical skills and an innovative mindset, the project has helped usher thousands of students into the Thailand 4.0 era.