Rural Initiative for Science Education (RISE) in Kingston, Jamaica
I will be coordinating Pueblo Science’s Rural Initiative for Science Education (RISE) in Jamaica. This will enrich science education in low-resource communities by showing local teachers how to incorporate new experiments to better stimulate young minds and demonstrate how practical science can be for everyday life.
Teachers attending the training will be primarily from outside of Kingston, the capital of Jamaica, with collaboration with the Jamaican Ministry of Education and the University of the West Indies (UWI).
$7,590 to train 100 teachers from rural regions across Jamaica on how to use inexpensive locally available materials to create science kits which coincide with material in the local curriculum and can teach students to critically think about the environments around them. Teachers will learn to implement eight multifaceted experiments that touch upon different areas of science, which is a more sustainable model of science outreach, as these teachers and students can spread this knowledge amongst their colleagues.
Date and Location of Training
Obstacles to overcome in science education: restructuring required
While not a universal trend, the majority of high school students in Jamaica show a general decline in performance in the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) science subjects (biology, chemistry, physics). This has been attributed to the CSEC examination shifting from more recall-based questions to application of knowledge and critical-thinking, and a stagnant curriculum that drastically needs to be modernized.
Often, we find wealth and educational opportunities concentrated in the capital, so Pueblo Science looks to the rural communities in order to maximize benefit for the whole country. Many rural teachers are overburdened to carry out their duties effectively, especially when considering lack of resources. Teachers themselves may not have enough exposure to world-class educational systems to best facilitate learning activities that help students understand concepts that interconnect scientific education to communities, environment, and health. In many cases, teachers may not be specialists in any field of science, though they are expected to teach physics, chemistry, and biology to students from 1st to 6th form, and more recently expected to teach as many as three sets of students in a single classroom. Coupled with insufficient governmental support, is it any surprise that they rely on learning from textbooks, focusing on recall, rather than experiential learning?
From news articles to professional and public opinions, we know Jamaicans teachers try their best despite these obstacles to encourage students to take an invested interest in science and its applications. Pueblo Science supplements the endeavour of these teachers to help develop a new generation of problem-solvers and innovators, which Jamaica needs. The teachers will travel to Kingston from remote communities across the different parishes of Jamaica, using their own money and giving up vacation time to attend our training because they believe it will help them inspire their students.
Who Am I?
My name is Johnathan Lincoln Lau and I am Pueblo Science’s coordinator for the Rural Initiative for Science Education (RISE) program in Jamaica. Originally hailing from Kingston, Jamaica, I graduated from Campion College in 2011, where the seeds of scientific passion were planted. In Toronto, I was blessed with research opportunities in molecular physiology and epigenetic drug discovery. Currently, my research interests lie in scientific communication to enhance evidence-based healthcare. Gaining numerous research experiences since migrating to Canada, coupled with my fierce love for my birthplace, I want to contribute to a better Jamaica by providing the same educational opportunities offered to me to all youth. Our nation needs an educational environment where all children can take equal share in being the new generation of innovators – scientists, researchers, entrepreneurs, designers, engineers, and problem-solvers – coinciding with Pueblo Science’s vision!
Many of our young bright minds go abroad in search of better opportunities that the Jamaican economy just cannot afford on a large scale, such as myself; though, I believe we Jamaican diaspora ought to give back and invest for future generations to come. For our size, Jamaicans have continuously been players in the global stage, especially in athletics and the arts – wi likkle but wi tallawah (we’re little, but are we tall or what?). However, there is no doubt that together, we can create a better Jamaica by investing our youth – we honestly deserve it.
I am a MD candidate studying at the University of Ottawa and finished my HBSc at the University of Toronto (UofT) in Immunology and Physiology.
Where Your Donation Goes
|Cost ($)||Quantity||Total ($)|
|Subsidies to help 6 Canadian volunteer scientists reach teachers in Jamaica|
|Local transportation & meals||100||6||600|
|Accommodation (4 days)||200||6||1,200|
|Materials for experiments during workshop (100 teachers)||500||10||5,000|
|Materials for experiment development||60||10||600|
|T-shirts for volunteers||12||6||72|
|Program Development Cost||967||1||967|
|Total Project Cost||$ 10,639|
The 100 teachers that will be trained in Kingston, Jamaica will engage thousands of students per annum. Pueblo Science recently expanded to Guyana, another Caribbean country, which was enthusiastically received by 80 teachers from all over Guyana. Based on this and previous programs implemented in the Philippines, we expect the following outcomes:
- Students learn that science can be experiential, fun, and applicable to everyday life.
- Students share and teach their experiments to their friends and classmates
- Students will use what they learned in their science class into a project helping the community
- Teachers will start holding their own camps outside of their classrooms
- Teachers create their own science kits using local resources