In order to equip a new generation of vocational students with skills that meet industry needs and drive forward the government’s Thailand 4.0 strategy, the Chevron Enjoy Science Project is collaborating with the Office of Vocational Education Commission (OVEC) to improve Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) teaching and learning. This work involves three key features. Firstly, the project is providing OVEC schools with first-rate curricular enhancements, including student textbooks and high-quality, hands-on learning materials which were delivered to the OVEC Secretary General, Dr. Suthep Chitayawong, as part of a materials handover ceremony on 22 March 2017. Taken together, the textbooks and science kits reinforce each other to form a cohesive learning system for teachers and students alike.
Secondly, to support OVEC science teachers’ use of the new learning materials as well as the integration of problem-based learning techniques into grades 10-12 vocational classrooms, the project has organized a series of two 2-week trainings—in October 2016 and March 2017. On-going professional development is another critical factor in education transformation. Teachers who engaged in the professional development honed their skills on employing project-based and inquiry-based learning and how these pedagogies relate to the scientific method and to engineering. In a recent speech, the OVEC Secretary General noted that a key aspect of the curricular enhancements provided by Chevron Enjoy Science is to help improve student engagement and spark student interest in following a rewarding vocational education path towards employment.
Finally, the project is providing on-going classroom mentorship to OVEC science teachers who have participated in the professional development seminars. The mentorship allows for experienced educators to provide one-on-one support to teachers in developing greater confidence and competency with the new pedagogies and learning materials. Well-structured workplace mentorship is vital to teachers throughout their career and that can significantly improve teacher effectiveness and ultimately student achievement.
The teaching materials and curricular enhancements were sourced from It’s About Time® (IAT), a leader in research-based STEM curricula in the United States. Modeled on the way practicing scientists, engineers and mathematicians work, IAT learning materials provide Thai educators the right tools to create a meaningful and joyful learning environment that deepens student engagement and problem-solving skills. The curriculum also builds 21st century skills such as teamwork, creativity, critical thinking, presentation and learning by doing.
Young Maker Contest winner adventures to Japan and UK
From 10-18 February 2017 and 30 March–7 April 2017, the four Young Maker Contest winning teams (King Mongkut's Institute of Technology Ladkrabang, Songkhla Polytechnic College, King Mongkut's University of Technology North Bangkok, Surat Thani Technical College) travelled to the Maker Faire UK 2017 and the Nano Tech Japan 2017 event, respectively.
In Japan, the two winning teams showcased their innovations to the public at the Nano Tech Japan 2017 and had the opportunity to present their work to the Thai Ambassador to Japan, Mr. Bansarn Bunnag (center in the picture). The teams also visited other learning centres in Japan to gain first-hand knowledge of STEM programs.
In the United Kingdom, the winning teams attended Maker Faire UK 2017 which took place at the Life Science Centre in Newcastle, England. At the event, hundreds of makers gathered together to share their innovations and ideas. The students returned to Thailand enthused to further pursue innovation and experimentation across the spectrum of science and engineering.
Aomjai Kwannimit (Right), an Active Physics science teacher at Trang Technical College, Trang Province
Aomjai Kwannimit has been a vocational school science teacher in Trang Province for 15 years. For Aomjai and dozens of science teachers who engaged in four weeks of intensive professional development training in October 2016 and March 2017, the Active Physics program has helped to generate a spirit of enjoyment and engagement in STEM education.
When she was invited to the workshops, Aomjai didn’t know it would change the way she taught. The workshops were led by It’s About Time trainers and the Chevron Enjoy Science master trainer team composed of leading OVEC science educators and distinguished university faculties from across Thailand. After attending the workshops, Aomjai said she learned new, high-impact teaching and presentation techniques, and has eagerly used them to improve her classes. She reflected that, after using these approaches in the classroom, students were more actively involved in conducting science experiments. “Project-based learning is helping my students build critical thinking, resulting in students following lessons to explore solutions to their own questions,” Aomjai confirmed.
The Active Physics program is improving the quality of secondary technical and vocational education by providing high-quality learning materials and professional development for teachers like Aomjai. “I would like to thank Chevron Enjoy Science for helping to improve educational opportunities for the next generation of Thai students,” said Aomjai. The Active Physics training is only one part of the Chevron Enjoy Science Project, a five-year private-public partnership with the Government of Thailand to improve skills of teachers and students and prepare them for the 21st century workplace.