Volunteer Experience: 2011 and 2012 Science Literacy Missions in the Philippines

Calvin Cheng


My two Science Literacy Missions to the Philippines with Pueblo Science have both turned out to be a perfect mix of traveling and utilizing my expertise in giving back. In between holding science training camps for teachers in three remote locations, our group had the opportunity to explore the natural beauty of this island nation as well immerse in the culture with local guides

Now a grad student in Chemistry, I first found passion for the sciences through the firsthand experience of playing with science projects in and out of school. Sharing the same enthusiasm for hands-on science was what got me involved with the Pueblo Science Organization. On each of the 20-day missions in the Philippines, I traveled with the Pueblo team to three locations in the Philippines to train local teachers in the use of Pueblo-designed science kits and experiments focused on utilizing commonly available materials. With resources often being the limiting factor for providing an interactive science environment for students, our approach resonated with the teachers, resulting in consistently high-energy enthusiastic training sessions. Best of all, it was such a rewarding experience to be able to trigger and witness the teachers’ confidence and passion ignite as the two day sessions progress. I have no doubt that the teachers are utilizing the tools from our sessions in their classrooms, giving their students a greater appreciation for the fun in the sciences.

Of course, another major reason for the trip to the Philippines was also for the opportunity to explore this region of the world. Withlocal friends and partners acting as hosts in parts of our travels, we knew exactly where to find the best local cuisine (make sure to try kare-kare in northern regions!) and hidden spots like a short man-made underground waterway along a river that you can safely swim through! In contrast to the high-energy science training sessions, the days in between were filled with soaking in the tropical white sand beaches, rain forests, and mountains.

Our adventures included wakeboarding, hiking up volcanic mountains, visiting the world’s longest underground river in Palawan (one of the New 7 Wonders of the World!), and my personal favourite, learning to scuba in some of the best sites available. It’s a whole new world underwater, and I’m happy to report that I’ve logged 8 dives in the coral rich, crystal clear waters of the Philippines over two trips and am looking forward to many more!

There’s no better balance of exploration and giving back than traveling with Pueblo Science, and I highly recommend any scientists to get involved!

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