Korea - YACs came to Korea

YACs came to Korea this week...

This Young Ambassadors of Chemistry workshop was sponsored by IUPAC – the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemists, the Korean Chemists Society, Chonnam National University, and partners included GSK, the British Council, and Bio-Rad.

The event took place from Monday Feb 20th to Friday Feb 24th, 2006 at the Chonnam National University in Gwangju, Korea - http://www.chonnam.ac.kr/en/.
YACs is an initiative to raise public awareness of Science using young people to mediate between the Science and the Public. (www.iupac.org - projects) The children ‘do’ the science and explain what are doing to the passing public, unable to keep themselves away from the interesting hubbub they witness among the group of children.    
The event included a four days’ training programme for Science and English teachers from around the region as well as guests from Taiwan and Japan. This is the fourth YAC event building on the successes of those held over the last two years in Taiwan, Argentina, and Russia. The initiative has now led to the YAC brand which has been ‘exported’ to other subjects (Physics and the Climate) and other countries (China, Vietnam, Germany, Poland, Egypt, soon to come to Malaysia) and is transforming itself into an initiative which promotes awareness of all Sciences, hence YACs - Young Ambassadors and Champions of Science.
48 colleagues were invited from around Kwangju and language teachers played an invaluable role in interpreting where Lida and I couldn’t make ourselves understood. It was a truly multilingual experience!
The programme of training introduced colleague to the Science Across the World (www.scienceacross.org) programme offering them the chance to sign up to Science Across and join the 5000+ teachers already subscribed in over 100 countries exchanging cultural scientific information with partners around the world.

On Monday, colleagues carried out activities from the Science Across topics ‘Chemistry in our Lives’ and ‘Talking about Genetics around the World’. Prof. Do, IUPAC rep for Korea, was our host and had organised the translation of the materials into the Korean language (he also added ‘Drinking Water’ for good measure!) and these materials will soon be available on the Science Across website with the 20 or so other languages in our database.
…tastebuds visible on a teacher’s tongue…
The training focused on carrying out surveys in the classroom and colleagues surveyed ‘variation’ in their own group.

We looked at the following:

Hair colour
Eye colour
Tongue rolling
Mid finger hair
Attached/not attached ear lobes
…and ‘supertasters’ in the Korean group… 
…surveying the group…
…with the invaluable help of interpreters...
… and brave guinea pigs…

On Tuesday, we also carried out a ‘post-it’ debate on the issues of Genetic Science as a tool for encouraging communication in the classroom.
At the same time colleagues discussed ‘product’ in the classroom and making an audience for their students’ work.
This concept of product included using Powerpoint, making posters, creating websites, using Excel, writing newsletters in Word, carrying out interviews and much more.
As an example, colleagues created a ‘biodiversity map’ of Korea which they had to present to the group in 1 minute and including all of their group in the presentation.
The teachers also signed up to the Science Across programme, coping extremely well with the English-medium website (even though our site is available in 7 languages, we still have to add Korean!).
…Lida explains how to get round the Science Across website…

On Thursday, we had a day of practical activities where the Chemistry teachers built a model of DNA from sweets…

… as usual we used local sweets and had to deal with marshmallow melting but got there in the end!!!

…and colleagues made their own range of cosmetics products, all this in preparation for the YAC Day on Friday when they were to coordinate the work of their learners to do the same activities in a public place…
Chemistry-loving colleagues in Korea have a network ‘teachers bonding over Chemistry’ which works voluntarily on promoting Chemistry and guess what!


All the teachers in the network are couples of Chemistry teachers! Talk about love. You can find out more at www.whasamo.com, but you’ll need Korean to be able to understand much of what you find there, except pics, of course, which are self-explanatory!
…preparing cosmetics commercials…
…rehearsing the advert…
…PPT presentation marketing of cosmetics…
…cosmetics for judging…
…preparing cosmetics bags for YAC Day…
…preparing sweets for DNA model…
…evaluating the week…

YAC Day, Friday 24th, 2006

The Public Awareness event took place at the Gwanju bus terminal and we got started around 10 am. All the teachers were there, and we had about 70 students lined up for science activities aimed at attracting public interest to Chemistry.
YACs everywhere busy with Chemistry…
… there were young YACs… 
… elderly YACs…
…even the Korean army stepped in to help…
…the DNA got longer and longer…
…advertising campaigns were prepared…
…you couldn’t miss us…
Groups delivered their product presentations…
…and the final length of DNA was put together…
And the prizes and gifts were handed out to the participants…
… the Dean and Vice Dean of the faculty of education from Chonnam National University came along and presented the prizes to the winners…
In all we had 3600 visitors pass through the event, and the press covered the event www.ikbc.net (you’ll need some Korean to find it!)…, the weather was glorious and everybody had a great time, a great time with Chemistry, and that’s the whole point!

There was surprise among the teachers who had been trained to run the event that it had gone so well, and that the children had enjoyed it so much. I can remember at the beginning of the week when the teachers themselves were quite shy with each other, yet over the course of the week, and our insistence that everyone participate in group presentations, their confidence grew, and they gelled as a group (am sure Karaoke after dinner on Thursday helped as well!). It was a learning experience for all of us. The Vice Dean is already talking about a return in 2008, and the Director of Administration, a biologist, has expressed an interest for his teacher network to get involved in similar activities in the future.

I’d like to thank Professor Choon Do, our host, who will present the results of this event at the 19th ICCE conference to be held in Seoul in August, and he is keen to do a rerun there. I’d also like to thank all of the teachers for their hard work as well as their patience as we met communication problems working through interpreters. Their hard work paid off, it was a fantastic event!