STEM Teacher Training Workshops

 

Introduction


The Caribbean region needs to urgently embrace STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education reform to: (a) increase the level of interest in the sciences, (b) encourage more youngsters to pursue careers in science and engineering, and (c) promote more awareness in the teachers and in the general population of the link between science and engineering, and regional economic development. This is particularly important in light of the current global challenges such as energy security, food security, climate change and natural threats which are impediments to the development of the Region.

The CSF STEM Teacher Training Workshops are two- and three-day training events for primary school teachers within the Caribbean. The goal is to train teachers in the use of Problem Based Learning (PBL) and Inquiry Based Science Education (IBSE) as teaching tools. Teachers are selected by their relevant Ministries of Education, and are persons who are genuinely interested in passionately exposing their students to elements of STEM. The intent is that these teachers will become future trainers of other teachers.

The PBL/IBSE inductive approach gives ample space to observation, experimentation, and teacher-guided construction by the child, and draws on the child’s own knowledge. It is anticipated that this approach will promote more student interest and excitement in science and engineering prior to their entering the secondary school. Further, we believe that the successes gained at the primary level will lead to a stronger focus on the sciences in the secondary level. Ultimately, this should lead to higher numbers of students pursuing advanced degrees and careers in science and engineering, and should help develop the Region’s next generation of technology leaders.

The Workshops promote themes such renewable energy, robotics and food production as key components in hands-on science education and curricula. It also helps teachers to identify several local issues that secondary school teachers face in teaching science and technology. Further, teachers leave with a plan for implementing PBL and ISBE as teaching tools, including a draft of the site-based PBL or IBSE program, and a plan for assessing/monitoring the program’s effectiveness.

The Workshops are conducted jointly with the Caribbean Academy of Sciences (CAS) and led by Prof. Winston Mellowes of CAS. He believes that: (1) we must pay greater attention to the teaching of mathematics at the elementary school level, and (2) that scientific principles need to be communicated clearly and effectively so that students understand and can apply the concepts.

There is no registration fee for attendance at the Workshops, and the CSF covers air transportation for the delegates and all the costs of teaching materials and supplies. Typically, the CSF asks the host country to provide a venue for the Workshop and lunches for the delegates, the training staff and the CSF support staff (approximately 30 people per Workshop).

A total of 11 workshops have been planned for Antigua, Barbados, Dominica, Jamaica, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Vincent & the Grenadines. For more information on the STEM Teacher Training Workshops, contact Professor Cardinal Warde (warde.csf@gmail.com).
 

Workshop Summaries

Dominica STEM Teacher Training Workshop

On May 31 st – June 1 st , 2017, The Caribbean Science Foundation (CSF) and the Caribbean Academy of Sciences (CAS) collaborated with the Dominica Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development to host the final in the current series of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Teacher Training Workshops for regional primary school teachers. Held at the at the Public Service Union Building in Roseau, this two-day workshop served a total of 26 teachers from Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, St. Kitts and Nevis and St. Lucia. The workshop was made possible by grant funding from the Embassy of the United States of America to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean and the OECS.

The goal of the STEM Teacher Training Workshops is to train teachers in the use of Problem Based Learning (PBL) and Inquiry Based Science Education (IBSE) as teaching tools. In his feature address, Minister of Education and Human Resource Development, The Honorable Petter Saint-Jean, commended the CSF and CAS for undertaking the initiative, and made the point that the critical thinking skills developed through STEM could be the catalyst to further develop the innovation which the Caribbean Region needs. Chief Education Officer, Mrs. Melana Fontaine, echoed similar sentiments, and urged the participants to take full advantage of the information presented, in order to implement it in their school communities upon their return to the classrooms. Also present were mathematics and science curriculum officers from the Ministry, as well as Assistant Chief Education Officer, Dr. Jeffery Blaize.

The teachers took on the role of the student over the two days of the workshop. They worked in teams to perform fun and engaging tasks and experiments, all of which can be implemented in their classrooms. Also, they were introduced to the UNESCO-approved Microscience kits, which are essentially miniaturized packaged laboratories. Each participating teacher received one kit to augment their delivery of STEM. The training was provided by experienced CAS facilitators, including: Dr. Winston Mellowes, Professor Emeritus, The University of the West Indies UWI St. Augustine; Dr. Rowena Kalloo, UWI St. Augustine; Mrs. Petal Jetoo, National Science Coordinator, Ministry of Education Guyana; Dr. Cathy-Ann Radix, Lecturer, UWI St. Augustine; Professor Theodore Lewis, Professor Emeritus, UWI St.
Augustine; and Professor Bhuall Nand Kumar, New York Institute of Technology (NYIT).

At the conclusion of the workshop, one teacher wrote, "the practical activities were fun and easy to implement. I cannot wait to try these with my class – they are going to have so much fun!" A second teacher wrote, "this was the best science workshop I have ever attended! The facilitators are knowledgeable and made learning exciting."

 
St. Kitts and Nevis STEM Teacher Training Workshop

On March 29-30, 2017 The Caribbean Science Foundation (CSF) and the Caribbean Academy of Sciences (CAS) collaborated to host a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Teacher Training Workshop for primary school teachers at the Bird Rock Hotel in St. Kitts. This two-day workshop served a total of 29 teachers from St. Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Grenada and St. Vincent, and was made possible by grant funding from the Embassy of the United States of America to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean and the OECS, as well as through the cooperation of the Ministry of Education of St. Kitts and Nevis.

The goal of the STEM Teacher Training Workshops is to train teachers in the use of Problem Based Learning (PBL) and Inquiry Based Science Education (IBSE) as teaching tools. The teachers were selected by their relevant Ministries of Education, and are among those who have a passion for increasing their students’ level of interest in the sciences. These teaching methods covered in the workshops are intended to introduce the basics of the scientific method to young students, and promote their interest and excitement in science and engineering. A longer-term goal of the STEM Teacher Training Workshops is to increase the number of students focusing on the sciences at the secondary level.

Along with the introduction of UNESCO-approved micro-science kits, emphasis was placed on PBL/IBSE using readily available, familiar materials, to which children can relate. The training was provided by experienced CAS facilitators, including Dr. Winston Mellowes – Professor Emeritus, UWI St. Augustine, Dr. Rowena Kalloo – UWI St. Augustine, Ms. Petal Jetoo – National Science Coordinator Ministry of Education Guyana, Professor Theodore Lewis – Professor Emeritus, UWI St. Augustine, and Professor Bhuall Nand Kumar – NYIT. Mr. Olston Strawn, Science Coordinator in the Ministry of Education in St. Kitts and Nevis aided setting up the many and varied experiments demonstrated to the participants.

In his speech at the opening ceremony, the Hon. Shawn Richards, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education, Youth, Sports and Culture urged the participants to take advantage of all the information offered, and to enthusiastically transfer that knowledge to their students. He also expressed his interest in seeing how some of the workshop materials could be used, and thanked the facilitator team for bringing creativity and innovation to the classroom. Professor Cardinal Warde in his remarks reminded the teachers of the important role they play in shaping the Region’s future by fertilizing the young minds so their students grow up to love science and engineering, and use STEM to build new economic pillars for the Region.

On the final day of the workshop, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Mr. William Hodge, commended the team of facilitators for their exciting and interactive syllabus, and suggested to the participants that they should begin to implement their new knowledge in their classrooms at the earliest opportunity. Each teacher received a certificate of participation and a micro-science kit for use in their respective schools. Feedback from the participants was very positive, and encompassed requests for longer and more frequent workshops of this nature.
 
STEM Teacher Training Workshops in Kingston and Montego Bay (Second Set)

The Caribbean Science Foundation (CSF) and the Caribbean Academy of Sciences (CAS) jointly hosted STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Teacher Training Workshops for primary school teachers at the Genesis Academy, Kingston on January 9-10, and at the Wexford Hotel, Montego Bay on January 12-13. The two-day workshops which served a total of 42 teachers were made possible by grant funding from the Embassy of the United States of America to Jamaica, as well as through the cooperation of the Ministry of Education of Jamaica.

Professor Cardinal Warde (MIT) and Ms. Lois Oliver of the CSF were the workshop organizers. The goal of the STEM Teacher Training Workshops is to train teachers in the use of Problem Based Learning (PBL) and Inquiry Based Science Education (IBSE) as teaching tools. Teachers are selected by their relevant Ministries of Education, and have a passion for increasing their students’ level of interest in the sciences. These teaching methods introduce the basics of the scientific method to the young students, and promote their interest and excitement in science and engineering. A longer-term goal of the STEM Teacher Training Workshops is to increase the number of students focusing on the sciences at the secondary level.

The PBL/IBSE teaching tools include UNESCO-approved micro-science kits, and emphasize observation and experimentation, while drawing on the child’s own knowledge. The training was provided by experienced CAS facilitators, including Dr. Winston Mellowes – Professor Emeritus, UWI St. Augustine, Dr. Rowena Kalloo – UWI St. Augustine, Mrs. Petal Jetoo – National Science Coordinator Ministry of Education Guyana, Dr. Cathy Radix – UWI St. Augustine, and Professor Bhuall Nand Kumar – NYIT.

At the opening ceremony in Kingston, Prof. Warde (who is also the Interim Executive Director of the CSF) said to the gathering of teachers, facilitators and Ministry of Education officials that “… it is the CSF’s vision that these teaching tools and methods will lead to higher numbers of students pursuing advanced degrees and careers in science and engineering and, ultimately, help to develop the Region’s next generation of technology leaders.” At the conclusion of the Workshop, Ms. Claudia Spence, Senior Education Officer in in the Ministry of Education commented that these were the best STEM workshops she has ever witnessed. The CSF donated one micro-science kit to each teacher for use in his/her school. Previous workshops in 2015-2016 have been held in St. Vincent, Antigua, Jamaica and Barbados.

 
Barbados STEM Teacher Training Workshop

The fifth in the series of Caribbean Science Foundation (CSF) and Caribbean Academy of Sciences (CAS) STEM training workshops for primary school teachers was hosted in Barbados, November 23-25, 2015. The sessions were held at the 3W’s Pavilion on the UWI-Cave Hill Campus. This workshop was made possible by grant funding from the Embassy of the United States of America to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean and the OECS, as well as with sponsorship from the Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation of Barbados.

During the official opening ceremony, remarks were delivered by Prof. Winston Mellowes – Secretary of CAS and Professor Emeritus, UWI St. Augustine, Prof. Cardinal Warde – Interim Executive Director of the CSF and Professor of Electrical Engineering at MIT, Prof. Eudine Barriteau – Prinicpal of the UWI, Cave Hill, Ms. Amanda Martinez – Information Resource Center Coordinator at the US Embassy to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean and the OECS, and Senator Harcourt Husbands – Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Science Technology and Innovation, Barbados. All the speakers noted the importance of STEM education, its relevance in today’s changing society, the importance of a collaborative approach to its delivery and applauded the efforts of the CSF and CAS.

The 43 teachers who participated were drawn from Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Grenada, Dominica, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. They were selected by their respective ministries of education. Over the three days of the workshop they interacted with their peers and the facilitators, were exposed to techniques to aid them in the delivery of science education, learned how to teach hands-on science using low-cost and readily available materials and were introduced to the UNESCO-approved micro-science kits. These kits consists of essentially miniaturized laboratory apparatus and materials. At the end of the workshop, each teacher received one kit as a gift to their school.

Barbados Teachers.png The training was delivered by facilitators: Professor Winston Mellowes – Professor Emeritus, UWI St. Augustine, Ms. Petal Jetoo – National Science Coordinator Ministry of Education Guyana, Dr. Bhuall Nand Kumar – Professor, Columbia University and chief facilitator Dr. Rowena Kalloo – UWI St. Augustine.
For more information please visit the Stem Teacher Training Workshops

 
Kingston and Montego STEM Teacher Training Workshops (First Set)

On October 12-13 and 14-15 2015, the Caribbean Science Foundation (CSF) and the Caribbean Academy of Sciences (CAS) collaborated to host the two STEM training workshops for primary school teachers in Jamaica. They were held at the Genesis Academy, Kingston and the Academy of Science, Technology and Arts (ASTA), Montego Bay respectively, and were made possible by grant funding from the Embassy of the United States of America to Jamaica, as well as through the cooperation of the Ministry of Education of Jamaica.

Delivering brief remarks at the opening of the Kingston workshop, Senator Wensworth Skeffrey, STEM Technical Officer in the Ministry of Education urged the teachers to fully immerse themselves in the workshop activities, as the knowledge gained would only improve their ability to engage the nation’s children. At the Montego Bay location, similar sentiments were shared by Mr. Sadpha Bennet, the National Science Coordinator in the Ministry of Education.

The primary school teachers, who were specially selected by the Ministry of Education, were then exposed to two days of lectures, activities, hands-on experimentation utilizing readily available materials and were introduced to the UNESCO-approved micro-science kits. They were able also to engage the facilitators, ask questions and to share their classroom experiences, challenges and victories amongst themselves. The feedback which they provided at the end of each workshop indicated that the teachers found the sessions to be relevant, applicable and fun, and many expressed their appreciation at having experienced the training.
Jamaica Teachers.png The training was delivered by facilitators: Professor Winston Mellowes – Professor Emeritus, UWI St. Augustine, Professor Theodore Lewis – Professor Emeritus, UWI St. Augustine, Mrs. Petal Jetoo – National Science Coordinator Ministry of Education Guyana, and chief facilitator Dr. Rowena Kalloo – UWI St. Augustine. It is anticipated that when these teachers return to their school communities, they will serve as ambassadors and share their knowledge and passion with their colleagues and students.
For more information please visit the Stem Teacher Training Workshops

 
Antigua & Barbuda STEM Teacher Training Workshop

The second in a series of Regional Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) teacher training workshops for primary school teachers took place at the Multi-Cultural Centre, in St. John’s, Antigua, on April 20-21, 2015. The STEM training workshop was offered by the Caribbean Science Foundation (CSF) and the Caribbean Academy of Sciences (CAS). The workshop was made possible by grant funding from the Embassy of the United States of America to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean and the OECS, as well as through the cooperation of the Ministry of Education of Antigua and Barbuda.

The workshop was opened by the Honorable Michael S. Browne, Esq., Minister of Education, Science and Technology of Antigua and Barbuda, who welcomed the delegates. The teachers who were chosen to benefit from this training are all actively involved in the teaching of science, are passionate and committed to its delivery and willing to try new and innovative ways of teaching science in their classrooms. The aim is to improve the way in which STEM subjects are taught by championing Problem Based Learning (PBL) and Inquiring Based Science Education (IBSE) as effective delivery tools. Ultimately, a database of thus trained Regional science teachers will be created, where peer support can be provided and resource materials shared.

Thirty-five teachers from Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts & Nevis and St. Vincent and the Grenadines participated in the two-day training, and all spoke highly of the training. The highlights were deemed to be the exposure to the hands-on experimentation using readily available, low cost materials, and to the UNESCO micro-science kits which contain miniaturized and fully operational lab equipment. Each teacher received a complete micro-science kit at the end of the training, and all committed to implementing their use in their respective schools.


The teachers assumed the role of student for the duration of the workshop, allowing them to view science through the eyes of their young charges. They came away reinvigorated with heightened awareness that teaching science can be fun, interactive and fulfilling for both teacher and student.

The training the teachers received was delivered by facilitators: Professor Winston Mellowes, Professor Emeritus, UWI St. Augustine; Professor Theodore Lewis, Professor Emeritus, UWI St. Augustine; Mrs. Petal Jetoo, National Science Coordinator in Ministry of Education Guyana; Dr. Bhuall Kumar, Professor, Columbia University; and chief facilitator Dr. Rowena Kalloo of the University of Trinidad and Tobago.

 
St. Vincent & The Grenadines STEM Teacher Training Workshop

On Jan 28-29, 2015, the Caribbean Science Foundation (CSF) and the Caribbean Academy of Sciences (CAS) collaborated to host the first in a series of STEM training workshops for Regional primary school teachers. The workshop took place at the Methodist Church Hall in Kingstown, St. Vincent, and was made possible by grant funding from the Embassy of the United States of America to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean and the OECS, as well as through the cooperation of the Ministry of Education of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

The aims of the workshop were to: (1) have teachers expand their understanding of the nature of science, science education and how students learn science, (2) identify strategies, resources and activities for Inquiry and STEM-based science teaching, and (3) increase the confidence of teachers in their planning, teaching and assessing inquiry based approaches. Identification of further knowledge and skills needed to feel competent in the teaching of inquiry based science was an additional focal point. It was also anticipated that a network of colleagues would be further developed, in order to provide support in innovation regarding the teaching of science.

Twenty teachers from Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines took part in two exciting days of stimulating lectures, interactive and engaging hands-on experimentation using readily available materials, and were introduced to the use of UNESCO micro-science kits, which provide miniature versions of functional science lab apparatus. The training they received was delivered by facilitators: Professor Winston Mellowes – Professor Emeritus, UWI St. Augustine, Professor Theodore Lewis – Professor Emeritus, UWI St. Augustine, Mrs. Petal Jetoo – National Science Coordinator Ministry of Education Guyana, Dr. Bhuall Kumar- Professor, Columbia University, and chief facilitator Dr. Rowena Kalloo – University of Trinidad and Tobago.

It is anticipated that when these teachers return to their home countries and school communities, they will serve as ambassadors and share their knowledge with their colleagues and students. Feedback from the participants indicated that they found the sessions informative, relevant, productive, thought provoking and fun.

Caribbean Science Foundation

CARICOM Research Building
UWI Cave Hill Campus
Bridgetown, Barbados, West Indies
Telephone: 1-246-417-7493
E-mail: csfhdq@gmail.com

For further information, please contact:
Prof. Cardinal Warde
warde.csf@gmail.com