Keeping Abreast of STEM Education Issues

STAR Conference
Dr. Aida Yap and Dr. Erlina Ronda were invited by DOST-SEI to participate in the 1st DOST-SEI Project STAR International Conference with the theme “Perspectives in Science Education: Building Connections, Sustaining Innovations and Sharing Pedagogies” last 7-9 August 2019 at the Philippine International Convention Center. Experts and policy makers in the Philippines and from the Asian region shared their take on STEM Education during the 3-day conference. Local researchers and teachers also presented STEM-related studies. STAR stands for Science Teacher Academy for the Regions and is a project that involves a cluster of capacity-building activities aimed at improving the quality of teaching of STEM teachers all over the country. UP NISMED played a key role in the project having designed the training on Teaching Mathematics through Problem Solving (TMtPS) for elementary teachers and trained the teachers and educators from various regions on TMtPS under the project.

STEM Conversations

Six NISMED science education specialists attended the recent forum on “Conversation with Professional Associations: Nurturing and Advancing the Philippine STEM Pipeline” last November 15. The whole-day event was organized by Unilab Foundation and Unilab Pharma Academy in partnership with the UP College of Education. The objective of the forum is to gather professionals and associations from both the public and private sectors in order to gain a better understanding of the needed STEM skills in the workplace and thus ensuring success of students in their STEM careers. Invited speakers from different industries and government agencies talked about their own perspective of the STEM Education landscape in the Philippines as well as their initiatives to help students prepare for STEM jobs. Overall, the forum encouraged collaboration between various stakeholders from the academe, industry, and government towards building a culture of science and innovation in the Philippines.

First STEM Leadership Alliance Summit in Asia 
The First STEM Leadership Alliance Summit-Asia held on 21-24 December 2019 in Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu made evident a much-needed reform in STEM education in the Philippines. The multitude and variety of questions raised by delegates reflected the current state of STEM education in the country—one that is limited still by disciplines trapped in silos. 

The STEM summit highlighted the importance of collaboration among the academe, industry, and government. The most critical conversations had policy repercussions, such as those that detailed proposals on how to enhance the STEM curriculum, build the infrastructure to ensure proper implementation, and develop resources to support the teaching and learning of STEM. 

A framework for an integrated STEM education forwarded during the summit is a good start to break down the silos and offer more opportunities for multidisciplinary collaboration. The framework consists of three principles: Integrated STEM education should 1) advance the learning of each individual STEM discipline, 2) provide logical and authentic connections between and across the individual STEM disciplines, and 3) serve as a bridge to STEM careers. The first principle—seemingly keeping the status quo or even academic tradition—underscores the importance, perhaps the indispensability, of content expertise. The process of integration done the wrong way dilutes content; but it need not be so in the context of STEM integration.

Dr. Yap and Mr. Mantala with Dr. Steven Swanson,
former systems and flight engineer of NASA
and was one of the speaker during the event.

Actual integration in STEM education is germinated in the second and third principles: to provide logical and authentic connection between the STEM disciplines and to serve as bridge to STEM careers, respectively. Reform that advances an integrated STEM matches the reform made in basic education and makes the learning of STEM more fluid and consistent from junior high school through senior high. 

Dr. Aida I. Yap and Mr. Michael Anthony B. Mantala of NISMED attended the STEM Leadership Alliance Summit through the generous sponsorship of Gokongwei Brothers Foundation (GBF). This year, GBF entered into partnership with NISMED and spearheaded the development of NISMED’s KaSaMa Teachers—an online community of Filipino science and mathematics teachers.

by E. Ronda, D. Lumantas and M. Mantala