Smithonian Uses Research and Empowerment To Transform Science Education in Panama and the World

July 17, 2018
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A team of education professionals and scientists from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) and Smithsonian Science Education Center came together to create an educational module like none other—Mosquito! Inspired by a universal call-to-action from the Interacademy Partnership within the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and in conjunction with other organizations, they are bringing together a global team to design inclusive and equitable research-based science education.

The team has developed a first educational module, available free to the public. It addresses the problem of diseases transmitted by mosquitos from an educational point of view, and it is aimed at children between 8 and 18 years old and their teachers. This module promotes excellence within science education while fostering pioneering approaches to empower and unite educators around the world.

The objective was to support Panamanian teachers as they explored 45 areas of the curriculum that makes up the Mosquito! module and to provide free resources for use in classrooms and in a community context.

“At the heart of our work is the idea that all young people, regardless of their gender, geography and socioeconomic status, should understand the problems that challenge us, and that we should all play a more active role in stimulating interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) through educational experiences that increase scientific understanding around the world,” said Carol O’Donnell, director of the Smithsonian Science Education Center.

In the future, educational experiences such as this one seek to empower communities around the world to work proactively, making these communities healthier and more sustainable places to live. Only by creating educational experiences where young people work together around a problem to develop solutions for their local community, can sustainability goals be woven together.

According to Krishan Lal, co-director of Interacademy Partnership sciences, “We are confident that the benefits generated by educational materials such as these will reach many children around the world who live and learn under different circumstances.”

With support from Panama’s National Secretariat of Science, Technology and Innovation and Panama’s Ministry of Education, as well as financial support from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and Johnson & Johnson, STRI and the Smithsonian Science Education Center brought together a group of change agents and more than 50 teachers to try out the content of the module, interacting with scientists using innovative teaching methods.

The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, headquartered in Panama City, Panama, is a unit of the Smithsonian Institution. The Institute furthers the understanding of tropical biodiversity and its importance to human welfare, trains students to conduct research in the tropics and promotes conservation by increasing public awareness of the beauty and importance of tropical ecosystems. Website. Promo video.

The mission of the Smithsonian Science Education Center (SSEC), formerly the National Science Resource Center, is to transform and improve the learning and teaching of science for K­–12 students. The center is recognized nationally and internationally for the quality of its programs and its impact on science education.

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