Dow Chemical project to hone teaching skills

business May 04, 2014 00:00

By The Nation

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Small-scale laboratory technique used in training workshop for science teachers

Dow Chemical Thailand, together with the Chemical Society of Thailand under the Royal Patronage of Professor Dr HRH Princess Chulabhorn Walailak, has conducted chemistry training for science teachers in lower-secondary schools in Rayong as part of its “Dow Chemistry Class” project. 
The objective of the training – initially carried out on a pilot basis – is to hone the teachers’ teaching skills and boost their creativity in chemistry experiments, so that they can create a new learning experience in the classroom, said Jirasak Singmaneechai, president of Dow Chemical Thailand.
He said chemistry is one of Dow’s key strengths and a foundation for science learning and development of products that are important to human life, and “that’s why we have launched the ‘Dow Chemistry Class’ project as a part of our mission to improve science education in this country, as well as to inspire scientific thinking and analysis among Thai students”. 
“We have started a pilot project in Rayong province, where we have our key production base, and believe we can help boost the quality of science learning and stimulate Thai youth for their readiness in joining the Asian Economic Community in the year to come,” he added.
With the aim of helping teachers better engage their students in science classes, the chemistry-class training has introduced the teachers to a new and safer experiment methodology – the “small-scale chemistry laboratory technique” – which offers more convenience and quicker results and can be applied to classroom activities. 
A total of 41 teachers from 20 schools participated in this workshop to learn the principles of the new methodology and later got to perform a series of experiments, including those on the diffusion of gases, acid rain, and the electrochemical separation of copper and water.
Associate Prof Dr Supawan Tantayanon, president emeritus of the Chemical Society of Thailand, is an internationally recognised Thai chemist who has conducted lectures in many countries. She has made great achievements in small-scale chemistry, for which she designed a small lab kit and small-scale experiments. 
Her work is also published on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s website. 
Supawan said the lab equipment used in these experiments was mostly made of plastic. The equipment is widely used in the fields of microbiology, biomolecular study, medical laboratory work and nanotechnology, but is smaller and much cheaper than the glass equipment used in regular chemistry experiments. 
In a small-scale experiment, chemical substances are used in tiny amounts of only 2-3 millilitres, which increases safety and minimises risk. Teachers can also turn materials used in daily life into experimental equipment, which offers more practicality in the classroom.
‘Fun and accessible’
In addition, the storage and transfer of the chemical substances can be done with ease, making experiments more fun and accessible for both students and teachers, she said.
“I am glad to see Dow Thailand organise such a great activity. Having joined the ‘Dow Chemistry Class’, I now have a lot of techniques to conduct activities in my class over and above teaching from textbooks, and that I can apply to other subjects. I believe this project will enhance science learning in class, which can bring about quality improvement of Thai teachers and students in the long run,” said Kanida Yodpanya, or Kru Moo, from Map Ta Phut School. 
Maneewan Sanglab, or Kru Joy, from Ban Chang Kanchanakun Witthaya School described the training as “fun and exciting”. 
“Those chemistry experiments are easy to understand, convenient and safe for kids to try, too. All the experiments will help me stimulate the students and make the experiments more fun. I believe they will enjoy practising their knowledge in these experiments. I will also [be able to] develop their thinking and planning skills more effectively,” Kru Joy added.