SRC Head Says More Practical Approaches Needed to Teach the Sciences

Photo: Rudranath Fraser Executive Director of the Scientific Research Council (SRC), Dr. Cliff Riley (right), listens to a point being made by Senior Lecturer and Science Centre Coordinator at Church Teachers’ College, Tillack Hardeen (left), at the opening of a two-day Caribbean Science Education and Technology Conference, at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in Kingston on April 10. At centre is Project Manager of the Improving Innovation Capacities in the Caribbean (INVOCAB) Project, Tamika Drummond.

Story Highlights

  • Executive Director of the Scientific Research Council (SRC), Dr. Cliff Riley, says more practical approaches are needed in the teaching of the sciences in schools.
  • “When you look at the passes in mathematics, they are very low. Passes in physics, chemistry and biology are far lower than in normal business areas as well as in (modern) languages. We’re struggling and we need to make it more practical,” he emphasised.
  • Meanwhile, Dr. Riley informed that the SRC has been doing its part to improve the learning and teaching of science in schools.

Executive Director of the Scientific Research Council (SRC), Dr. Cliff Riley, says more practical approaches are needed in the teaching of the sciences in schools.

He noted that the reason some students continue to struggle with those subjects in external examinations like the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC), is due to their “unattractiveness”.

“When you look at the passes in mathematics, they are very low. Passes in physics, chemistry and biology are far lower than in normal business areas as well as in (modern) languages. We’re struggling and we need to make it more practical,” he emphasised.

Dr. Riley was speaking to JIS News on the first day of a two-day Caribbean Science Education and Technology Conference, at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston, on April 10.

The Executive Director suggested that to overcome this struggle, recognition of the importance of science and its impact on the lives of Jamaicans, as well as on national development, are required.

For his part, Senior Lecturer and Science Centre Coordinator at Church Teachers’ College, Tillack Hardeen, agreed with Dr. Riley that more practical approaches must be adopted in the teaching of science.

“Science isn’t being taught the way it should be… . Real science is science that you explore, that you touch and see, and that’s where the excitement comes in (and) where you get people interested,” he said.

Meanwhile, Dr. Riley informed that the SRC has been doing its part to improve the learning and teaching of science in schools.

Among those initiatives is the National Science and Technology Fair, which was held on March 21.

This gave students the opportunity to create innovative products and included categories such as Education and Entertainment; Food, Water and Agriculture; Information and Communications

Technology (ICT); Electronics and Robotics; Environmental Stewardship; Green Energy; Transportation; Security, and Sports.

The most impactful of the SRC’s programmes, Dr. Riley noted, is the Improving Innovation Capacities in the Caribbean (INVOCAB) Project.

It entails fully equipping 16 science laboratories in schools in Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago with science tools and supplies donated by the European Union (EU).

The items provided include test tube racks and brushes; Bunsen burners; tripod stands; cavity slides; human tissue and cell development slides; human skeleton, heart and brain models; measuring cylinders; funnel sets Petri dishes microscopes; forceps; and evaporating dishes.

Establishing core science centres at The Mico University College, University of the Commonwealth Caribbean and Church Teachers’ College is also a part of the project.

“These schools will create a platform, or opportunities, for students to utilise more practical approaches as well as resources to complement what they are already being taught in the classroom,” he said.

The conference is being held under the theme ‘Providing Quality Science Education: the Foundation for Creativity, Innovation and Sustainable Development’.

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