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IAEA nurtures nuclear education in Asia Pacific
2018-7-25

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) held the first in a series of six regional training courses for secondary school science teachers last month in Indonesia. The courses aim to equip teachers in Asia Pacific to inspire a new generation of nuclear scientists and engineers by engaging students and enhancing their understanding of nuclear science and technology.

IAEA teacher training course in Indonesia - 460 (Batan)
Course participants during a technical visit to Bata's facilities (Image: Batan)

The first two-week course was attended by 26 teachers from 17 countries. The course comprised presentations, laboratory work and technical visits to Indonesia's National Atomic Energy Agency (Batan). It also served a good opportunity for teachers from different countries to network and exchange experiences in teaching. The IAEA said the course marks the first time that it had formally engaged with the secondary education teaching community.

The participants were introduced to diverse methods of teaching nuclear science and technology to children aged 12-18 in an effective and engaging manner. The IAEA said it hoped the attendees will become mentors to other teachers in their countries. "This way, the project aims to reach one million students by 2021," it said.

Sunil Sabharwal, a radiation processing specialist at the IAEA, said: "The idea is to introduce teachers to the link between the key role being played by nuclear science in enhancing the quality of our everyday life and the simple nuclear concepts being taught in schools as well as to provide them with innovative methods to deliver this knowledge to students through academic as well as extra-curricular approaches."

Following the course, Jordanian teacher Amal Al-Khassawneh said, "The training course provided me with the necessary confidence, courage and knowledge to talk about the real facts of nuclear science with students."

The course followed a Regional Workshop on Curriculum Development and Launching of Nuclear Science and Technology for Secondary Schools that took place in the Philippines in February. During an earlier workshop, in Japan, a regional nuclear science and technology competency framework was established that serves as reference for national educational curriculums. The IAEA said the competency framework was crucial in the preparation of the training course in Indonesia.

The next regional training course for secondary school teachers will take place at the Argonne National Laboratory in the USA in August. The following four will take place in Japan, the Philippines, Malaysia and Australia this year and next.

Between 2012 and 2016, the IAEA and experts from Australia, India, Israel, Japan, South Korea and the USA developed a compendium that collects unique teaching strategies and materials to introduce science and technology in education systems across Asian countries. This compendium was piloted in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and the UAE and reached 24,000 students. The IAEA said the pilot demonstrated that students "were more receptive to learning about nuclear science and technology when teachers used a diverse set of methods, which also increased their problem-solving skills".

The IAEA said an updated version of the compendium will be prepared over the coming years.

  
 
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