Microscience kits ‘important to expand interest’ in subject, education officer argues

Assistant CEO and Natural Science Coordinator in the Ministry of Education, Sadpha Bennett, speaks at a recent JIS ‘Think Tank’ (Photo: Michael Sloley, JIS)

The decision to introduce the microscience kit within the school system in 2016 was to increase the number of students participating in the subject, says Assistant Chief Education Officer and Natural Science Coordinator in the Ministry of Education Sadpha Bennett.

Addressing a recent JIS ‘Think Tank’, Mr. Bennett noted that findings from a comprehensive survey undertaken in 2014 cited inadequate laboratory space as the most significant factor that was affecting the number of students doing science or showing an interest in the subject.     

“The decision to implement that approach in schools is also in line with Jamaica’s National Development Goals, and Vision 2030 that speaks to a technologically oriented society, which means that every child should have a rounded experience in science,” he said.

Bennett pointed out that teachers in training at several teachers’ colleges are now being exposed to the microscience approach. 

“What this means is that at the tertiary level, we are able to impact the new teachers leaving college, ready to interface with students using microscience as a tool for teaching,” he said. 

“While we continue to work with the in-service teachers, we are building the capacity of teachers, who will be ready to use microscience, and this is a significant advancement and improvement in terms of the sustainability and future of microscience in our schools,” Bennett added.

The new approach to teaching science was implemented as a pilot project in 14 secondary schools across the island.

Microscience is a practical method for the delivery of science subjects using inexpensive microscience kits along with supporting student and teacher manuals that allow teachers to teach science from any national curriculum.

The kits, which are alternatives to laboratories, are compact and portable, and consist of miniature apparatus specific to the science subjects – Chemistry, Biology and Physics.

They come at a lower cost, approximately $2,500.00 (US$20.00) each, and with greater safety than the traditional laboratory-centred approach.

Currently, the findings from the 2016 pilot project are now being evaluated, and should be released soon.