Manila, Philippines ---- Fifty selected Math and Science teachers from different public schools were given the privilege to be trained in the use of microscopes, as well as the use of graphing paper as an alternative for using rulers to help teach and illustrate space.
The workshop was held in order to serve as example for teachers to learn how to improvise and use the readily available materials and tools in their classrooms, which sounds strange, considering the vast amount of money spent by the Arroyo government in order to implement “open education” using cyberspace.
This event is part of a program in order to improve the quality of basic education, for which P500 million is allocated annually. The project is supported by the Department of Education, together with University of the Philippines-National Institute for Science And Mathematics Education Development (NISMED) as well as the Marikina City government.
The workshop was held at the Philippine Science Centrum at Riverbanks in Marikina. The teachers were asked to collect water, plant and animal samples from the banks of Marikina River. The teachers then examined their samples using the microscopes that were made available for them to practice using.
After looking at the specimen under the microscope, the teachers made presentations of what they learned, in the form of drawings, puzzles, and artworks. This provided a good opportunity for the teachers to interact with each other.
The teachers were also taught to use graphing paper in order to show what units of measurement (like millimeter) and space look like. The organizers hope that this will help students to better visualize the mathematical concepts of measurement and space.
The teachers were also ranked based on their skills in their presentation, as well as their ability to motivate other teachers to be curious and to engage in teamwork.
The teachers were amazed to see their specimens magnified to 400x or even 1000x with clarity using the microscopes.
Microscopes to Boost Interest in Science and Nature
Most teachers who participated in the said event have just experienced their first time to be able to use a high magnification compound microscope, says Marina Balce, science education of NISMED.
Marikina schools severely lacked the basic school equipment, like microscopes, rulers etc. They only have blackboard and chalk to teach their students, who don’t even have notebooks or pencils so they only commit their lessons to memory. This is what the workshop aims to improve, htat even though equipment may not be provided right away, the quality of the education is not sacrificed.
Science is derived from nature, explains Balce. People have gained knowledge and have improved in terms of technology, by observing acts of nature, and this can be done by the proper use of our senses, like sight, smell, sounds, and texture of things. Their observations can then be put into practical use.
Balce also explained that a lot of concepts and inventions were made by looking into nature. She even gave the idea of the color scheme of Japanese car manufacturers as an example. The colors were first observed in the wings of a certain butterfly. Another example was the VelCro idea from grass blades.
“If you stimulate the senses, you stimulate the brain,” Balce says. The use of microscopes is one way of stimulating the curiosity of students to explore the microscopic world. A lot of ideas and concepts that affect the world today also came from observing these very minute organisms using microscopes.