The Ministry of Education in collaboration with the United Nations Educational , Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has launched a micro-science pilot project with the aim of making every classroom a science laboratory.
The project is being coordinated by Elinor Jordan, science specialist attached to the National Centre for Educational Resource Development (NCERD), and is due to be introduced in September in its pilot phase in a number of schools countrywide. It is expected that the syllabuses and curricula would be ready by this time.
The project was launched in a science laboratory at Queen’s College on Camp Road yesterday by UNESCO National Commission Chairman Carmen Jarvis and its theme is “Towards Improved Science Education In Guyana”.
A number of government and United Nations agencies in Guyana, including the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Pan American Health Organisation/World Health Organisation, are interested in the project and will assist in the purchase of the micro-science equipment kit to ensure that the project is successful, Jarvis said.
Teachers and science specialists involved in the writing of the syllabuses and curricula are drawn from Winfer Gardens Primary, Wales Community High, St Joseph’s High, St Rose’s High, Mackenzie High, President’s College, Queen’s College, the Cyril Potter College of Education, NCERD and the University of Guyana.
In the initial stages of the project the teachers were trained in the teaching of primary and integrated science, physics, chemistry and biology.
Giving a background to the project, NCERD science specialist Lorna McPherson said that those selected to be part of the project at this stage were carefully chosen. The criteria were their participation in the first micro-science workshop in December last year under the auspices of UNESCO and the work they have been doing in the primary and secondary schools where they teach.
McPherson noted that the project aims to make every classroom into a science laboratory. This would be possible because of the very small size of the equipment to be used in experiments along with the small quantity of chemicals required.
In addition, she said, it is cost effective, observing that to establish science laboratories in every school countrywide would be very expensive. The micro-science kit, which is not bigger than an ordinary lunch bowl, could be easily accommodated on a desk in any classroom and experiments can be done.
The drawback of the micro-science project, she said, would be the small size of the equipment which could be easily lost. The development of motor skills to handle the small pieces could be another factor.
Before the kits are sent to schools, it is expected that they would be accompanied by instruction manuals so they would not be put away to gather dust as has been the case with larger equipment in some science laboratories.
In brief remarks, Jarvis said that UNESCO, which promotes the sciences in the service of development, welcomes the initiative to proceed with the project. She said that the equipment is easily acquired and has proved to be effective as well.
UNESCO is interested in promoting the sciences locally as it has been noted that just a few people enter the natural sciences stream because it is thought to be difficult, she said. Encouraging girls to get more involved in the sciences would be another objective since the thinking is that the discipline is for boys.
She also expressed concern that Guyanese and Caribbean youths have never won global prizes at stake in the sciences and feels that the use of the micro-science project could help to motivate young people to do science research and compete with the rest of the world for prizes.
For the launching of the project in September, it is expected that some 200 teachers will be introduced to the micro-science concept.