John Marty Mateo
I can still vividly remember the first time I volunteered for Pueblo Science. It was a fine day in Ilocos Norte, a province in the northern part of the Philippines, this is the first time that I will be joining an organization with an advocacy to educate the teachers and students of ways to improve their learning in a subject close to my heart – SCIENCE. I was thrilled and nervous at the same time knowing that the participants for that particular event was teachers (older than I am). I prepared my lesson well, I even rehearsed my jokes because I don’t want my lecture to be boring. The first session was nerve-wracking to say the least, because I don’t have any formal training in teaching (because I work as a research assistant). But once you get the momentum in teaching it will lead you somewhere, the experience went from nerve-wracking to having an adrenaline rush to excitement and finally fulfilment. To see their faces light up and to see those eureka moments from them when they finally discovered the science behind a simple experiment was very rewarding.
Here in the Philippines, science is just a subject taught in a confined room where there is literally little to no practical application of the concept. This is the reason why only a few students appreciate science and pursue science related course as a career. The Pueblo Science Team provides designed experiments that is easy to execute with readily available materials and these experiments are really fun and enjoyable. I am very positive that these trainings will have a huge impact in our youth in the next generation.
I have been volunteering in Pueblo for the last three years and I must say that the experience is very fulfilling and rewarding. I discovered that I am good at teaching and talking to people. I also find this volunteer work an eye opener on the real situation of the Philippine society when it comes to science and technology. The hindrance in learning science will push me to relay these learnings that I got from Pueblo Science to other people especially in the rural areas. Hopefully in the future, we will be bearing the fruit of our labor and we will produce a great amount of scientists in the Philippines. I am thanking Pueblo Science Team for giving me an opportunity to help educate these teachers and for also bringing out talents that I thought I didn’t have. Kudos to the people behind Pueblo Science and I am hoping that this program will continue to expand and reach far places so that many people can appreciate, understand and enjoy the subject that we all love – SCIENCE.
Volunteering at Pueblo Science was one of the best decisions I have ever made. It was a breeze and the week passed by too quickly. The camp directors went out of their way to make my first volunteering experience a lot of fun. The campers were fun and energetic. All the other volunteers were very kind and amazing people. Together, we set up the experiments, taught the kids, and helped them out with anything else along the way. Seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces was well worth the cleanups (which everyone helps with) and early mornings. I will definitely be volunteering with Pueblo Science at the next chance I get.
I was excited to become involved with Pueblo Science after hearing about the organisation shortly after moving to Toronto. It was a great opportunity for me to meet new people and to utilise and develop my skills as a trained teacher. My volunteering experience with Pueblo Science was thoroughly rewarding and enjoyable. The program co-ordinators and my fellow volunteers all shared the same enthusiasm for teaching the children in a fun environment. The experiments were exciting and interesting and most importantly hands-on which is essential for effective learning. The camp was a great experience for all the children involved. Each child was given an opportunity to be creative and encouraged to be inquisitive to develop a greater understanding and love of science. This was possible as a result of the carefully designed programme schedule, the tours organised and the dedicated work of all the volunteers and co-ordinators. I am delighted that I got the opportunity to be involved with Pueblo Science and strongly recommend the summer camp to volunteers and parents alike.
Pueblo Science’s summer camp was truly an amazing and fun learning experience for me. I was a volunteer for all three sessions, 3-4 times per week. I got to work with a great and dynamic team, who created a welcoming and learning atmosphere for all campers. When I was younger, I attended several science camps in Toronto as well as Europe, but I found that Pueblo Science offers the most hands-on activities for this age group. The camp ran very smoothly, thanks to our great instructors, Andrea and Alon, who went over most of the experiments with us beforehand. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that there are so many interesting and creative activities that only require only few simple, and easily accessible materials. I loved working with the children, and I am sure we have awoken their inner scientist! One thing that I really liked, and wished they did that more at school, is that the campers were given a lot of freedom to experiment around (not follow the procedure all the time, e.g.: change the required amount to see how it will change the outcome) and many tried to create their own version of the experiment. I can’t wait till next year’s camp again!
It’s been three years now since I’ve been with Pueblo and little by little I am seeing the impact we are making in the Philippines especially every time I see teachers’ faces light up like when they were just kids with much curiosity about Science. It is a privilege working with fellow scientists from University of Toronto and UP Diliman in pursuing this vision. Special thanks to Dr. Mayrose Salvador for making all this happen!
Our country’s need for a better Science education is great and as a fellow Filipino there is no excuse not to help and reach out to other teachers who will shape the next generation of scientists, engineers, doctors, etc. As a way of thanking these awesome people, please like and share Pueblo Science’s page!
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.