JIS News

Summer is out and school is back, but not before the Scientific Research Council (SRC) and the Bureau of Standards Jamaica got an opportunity to impress the minds of 40 primary school students with their message of ‘Science & Technology in Everyday Life’, during their 2005 Summer Camp.
Technical Information Officer at the SRC, Kofi-Ann Spence tells JIS News that the camp, which was held in several parishes, including Westmoreland, Kingston and Clarendon, was aimed at increasing the students’ awareness of Science, Technology and Standardization and motivating them towards careers in Science and Technology.
She points out that the nine to 12 year-old participants who hailed from schools, which are part of the Schools Science and Technology Societies (SSTS), were targeted as they are in the pre-GSAT stage.
Miss Spence informs that the “activities which related to the curriculum of the age group”, also saw efforts being made to cover familiar and new information through teaching, experiments and the utilization of video presentations and field trips, in addition to oral presentations from the Bureau of Standards, the SRC, the Mines & Geology Division, the Forestry Department and the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), to enrich the experience.
“Students at this level are taught science by theory and do not get a chance to actually perform experiments, so we exposed them to this vital part of Science to provide more comprehension as well as to create more interest,” she notes.
She says that the success of the camp has been attributed to the excellent attendance and participation of the students who were also exposed to “fun and exciting science experiments such as chemistry/chemical changes, investigating fingerprints, food tests, artemia presentations, weights and measurements activities, calcium game, video presentations and presentations”. Field trips included visits to the Royal Palm Reserve in Negril (Bluefields Camp), where students were exposed to indigenous plant and animal fauna as well as a nature walk.
Each camp had daily quiz sessions with students being awarded at the closing ceremonies based on their academic performance and based on attributes, such as good behaviour, leadership, team spirit and awareness.
Teachers were not left out of the experience. According to Miss Spence, in the past, teachers had been invited to attend the camp to encourage the incorporation of theory and experiments in their teaching strategies. She says teachers are furnished with information and novel ideas on delivery with the expectation that the information gained will be shared with other teachers, so all relevant students might benefit.
Furthermore, the SRC’s Education Unit serves the various SSTS, through school visits, during which presentations are shared with students and teachers.
In the meantime, high school teachers interested in industry were involved in the SRC’s Summer Attachment programme.
The initiative, which began in 1998, has benefited teachers islandwide. It is aimed at providing them with the resources to explore the concepts upon which scientific knowledge is built, resulting in the use of innovative hands-on teaching methods and materials.
“We believe that by introducing teachers to science and technology practices, they will be supplied with turnkey systems to use in the classrooms. We are happy to mention that many teachers have reportedly used the experience and information gained during this period to complement the science and technology teaching syllabuses,” Miss Spence explains.
To complete the experience, institutions and companies are asked to assist in facilitating the programme by providing placement for teachers for four to six weeks between July and August, and to provide a stipend.
This year, six companies participated in the programme by employing 11 teachers for the period.Sponsors for the S&T summer camp were the Bureau of Standards Jamaica, the Jamaica Biscuit Company, Yummy Bakery, Lee’s Supermarket, The Captain’s Bakery (May Pen), May Pen Ice, Nestle Jamaica Limited, VAP Limited, Trade Wind Citrus, Nutri Fresh Company Limited, Spike Industries Limited, Plyen Limited and GlaxoSmithKline.