Opening up to a new world

By Emma Hansen

As an undergraduate physics student at U of T, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to join the 2015 Rural Initiative for Science Education as a volunteer instructor. I had never worked with Pueblo Science outside of Toronto before, nor had I been to Southeast Asia, so the RISE program opened up a new world for me. I was impressed by the enthusiasm of the teachers we worked with, and I left with a renewed enthusiasm for science.

In Cebu and Palawan, we worked with local teachers, running training camps that enabled the teachers to make science tangible for their students using locally available materials. Then, when the rest of the Pueblo Science team went to Davao, I stayed in Palawan with a group of M.Ed. candidates to facilitate a science camp for Indigenous elementary school children. I worked with a group of teachers in Vintar the next week to run a similar camp. The two children’s camps were held outdoors because the breeze offered some relief from the heat, and I loved doing science in that environment; it was different from the typical Canadian classroom experience. Some of the students’ favourite activities were a demo that illustrated fermentation using balloons, and a fast-paced game of catch using non-Newtonian fluids.

I have been learning about science in a formal capacity for years, but I still remember (and encounter!) the obstacles that threaten to make scientific understanding unattainable – I hope we were able to translate some theoretical scientific concepts into exciting realities for the students we worked with. It was very rewarding to see students get excited about the demos!

In between workshops, we spent time exploring the beautiful country of the Philippines. We travelled along an underground river, woke up early to spot dolphins, visited night markets and coral reefs – I loved learning about Filipino culture, and I was so grateful to have this opportunity. I can’t recommend the RISE program highly enough to anyone who is interested in science education.