by Cristina Pusta
The Philippine education is facing a big challenge: in 2010, the government implemented the K-12 program wherein high school education is extended for two more years calling it the senior high school (grade 11 & 12). Enrollees this year are the first batch of students who are affected of the additional senior high school. Parents have been financially struggling to send their children to high school with a four year curriculum, adding two more years will compound this burden.
The K-12 program aims to produce students who are competent and skilled when they finish high school. Adding two more years might be a burden but I believe it has a good long term effect and as a science educator, I want to help produce students who are competent and skilled. Our greatest challenge as a science educator in the Philippines is that we lack resources and materials for us to teach students science experiments. Good thing Pueblo Science responded to the need of developing countries such as the Philippines in raising awareness towards science literacy by conducting science teachers’ camps. I am one of those fortunate teachers who learned a lot from the camp. Through this camp, I was able to conduct fun and engaging science experiments using readily available materials. I am proud to say that after attending the camp and using the experiments that I learned, I became a more effective teacher. One of the evidence that I can provide is when my student became an entrepreneur. To help her parents in their finances, she thought of selling ice cream in the school after we had our Ice cream making experiment. My student got more interested and experimented on how to make different flavors of ice cream. She even got interested in taking a science related course in college.
Every year, I see to it that I attend Pueblo Science Teachers Camp. Then, share all the things that I learn to my fellow teachers in the school. Last September 2015 during our Math and Science Fair at school, I integrated the different science experiments I have learned in the Pueblo Science Teacher’s Camp.
To pursue my passion and to become a more competent and effective teacher, I enrolled again to finish my masters course in Science Teaching. I was not able to finish it because my scholarship grant was cut due to lack of government fund. This year, I was able to save some money so I decided to continue and am determined to finish it hopefully. One of the subjects in this course is Managing Out-of School Science Activities. The final requirement of this subject is to conduct an immersion activity in a community. Two of my classmates are teachers for the Alternative Learning System (ALS) program. They said that their students really need help. They are out of school youth who cannot proceed to college because of financial constraints. Most of them are laborers, house helpers and even young mothers. They cannot attend a formal school during weekdays since they need to work. We decided to come up with activities suited to their needs. With my background in Pueblo Science Teacher’s Camp and my experiences in using the experiments in my own class, I suggested that we teach the Ice Cream Making experiment to the ALS students but during the planning, my classmates were hesitant to pursue this since it needs a lot of budget to buy the materials needed. So I came up with the idea of splitting the class into groups and each group would bring their own ingredients and materials. Finally, we came up with the idea of turning Science experiments into a livelihood. We want them to learn science experiments and at the same time earn money from what they have learned. The immersion activity was a success. Most of the students said that it was their first time to have that kind of experience. For me, it was an eye opener. A lot of ALS students need this kind of activity. My goal this school year is to help another batch of ALS students and teach them different science experiments which they can enjoy, at the same time, earn from.