UP NISMED Celebrates Its 59th Anniversary

The University of the Philippines National Institute for Science and Mathematics Education Development (NISMED) celebrated its 59th anniversary on 24 November 2023. The institute held its annual public lecture with the theme “Fueling Sustainable Growth through Tech-Driven STEM Teaching and Lifelong Learning” at the UP NISMED auditorium. The whole program was livestreamed via UP NISMED’s official Facebook page and Youtube channel, NISMED TV. It was attended by teachers, professors, educators, students, university officials, and individuals from the private sector.

Before the public lecture, the guests were invited to view an exhibit of print and non-print resources that NISMED had recently developed. Dr. Monalisa Sasing, the Deputy Director for Research and Extension, gave brief descriptions of the resources, which included digital stories from the Digital Apps and Stories Project; supplementary videos for the Grade 9 Chemistry Ionic and Covalent Bonding Self-Learning Module; the Guidebook for Exploring Earth and Space Science with Emerging Technologies; and the Human Reproductive System Teaching Guide. Short-term courses on 3D printing, microcontroller projects, Geogebra, and Artificial Intelligence in STEM education were also introduced. UP Diliman Chancellor Edgardo Vistan II, together with UP College of Education Dean Jerome Buenviaje, UP Integrated School Officer-in-Charge Diana Caluag, and NISMED Director Sheryl Lyn Monterola, cut the ribbon to formally open the exhibit. 

The public lecture program began with the welcome remarks of Chancellor Vistan. It was followed by a recognition ceremony for the partner institutions that NISMED had worked with over the past year. Representatives of each partner institution were presented with a certificate and token in recognition of their participation in the successful projects and initiatives that NISMED had been involved in.

UP Diliman Chancellor Edgardo Carlo Vistan II, UP College of Education Dean Jerome Buenviaje, UP Integrated School Officer-In-Charge Diana Caluag, and UP NISMED Director Sheryl Lyn Monterola present certificates of recognition to partners during its 59th anniversary celebration.

The first plenary talk was delivered by Dr. Scott Bartholomew, an Assistant Professor of Technology and Engineering Studies at Brigham Young University, USA. In his presentation entitled “Why do we need school anyway?” he stated that we need STEM education even with the current advantage of emerging technologies. He emphasized that students still need teachers for skill development, in fostering classroom relationships, and in showcasing creativity, especially in the field of STEM. He also discussed how to future-proof STEM education, which includes emphasizing the teaching, practice, and development of "soft skills" in students. These soft skills include creativity, communication, collaboration, and connection. He also said that even as we embrace modern technology, we should also be aware of its limits. Lastly, he explained how important it is for students to determine and learn about core skills and knowledge.

The next plenary presentation was given by Dr. Ethel Agnes Pascua-Valenzuela, the Advisor on the Future of Education of the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Research and Development Platform at the ASEAN Secretariat. Dr. Pascua-Valenzuela’s talk entitled “Tech-Driven STEM Teaching and Learning in ASEAN” focused on the trends in STEM education and AI integration in the ASEAN region, the steps that each country in the region were taking in creating a New Future in STEM in the age of AI and digitalization, and the opportunities and challenges that go with the promotion of STEM teaching and learning that are tech-driven, all in the context of lifelong learning. She also tackled how we could make the STEM field inclusive and emphasized the need for increasing the number of STEM researchers, especially among women. 

NISMED Director Monterola gave the last plenary talk. She remarked on the topic of upskilling and reskilling through STEM, and NISMED’s role in it. She stated that developing digital competence skills provides a large economic benefit to a country. She also pointed out the importance of lifelong learning, about how participation in non-formal education should not decrease as we age, and on how connection between STEM and lifelong learning happens. She also talked about futures and sustainability actions, focusing on the interconnection of sustainable development goals and the shifts in the labor market for green jobs and skills. NISMED’s programs and initiatives with respect to each point were also presented. Lastly, Dr. Monterola emphasized that STEM should be about developing skills and tools for enquiring minds, employment, entrepreneurial mindset, and citizen empowerment.

A question and answer session was held toward the end of the public lecture where participants in the auditorium and online asked about topics discussed during the plenary talks. The Q&A portion was facilitated by the public lecture host, Dr. Ivy Mejia, and the questions were addressed by a panel consisting of Dr. Monterola and Dr. Sasing, who delivered the closing remarks. Lucky guests were happy to receive STEM books in two giveaway draws held during the program. A group photo was taken to cap off NISMED’s 59th anniversary celebration.