Young Ambassadors for Chemistry in a storm in Taiwan
From November 22-26, 2004 we started the first of a series of four workshops for Science and Language teachers at the National Taiwan Normal University (NTNU) in Taipei.
The workshops are part of a project entitled 'Young Ambassadors for Chemistry' with the aim of developing public understanding of chemistry through chemistry celebration events for young people in public locations.
The event in Taipei could be organised with the support of a number of partners and this is a measure of the collaboration that has been achieved in preparing for the workshop.
Those partners are the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC), Science Across the World (SAW), GlaxoSmithKline, National Taiwan Normal University (NTNU), National Science Council, Taiwan, British Council, Taipei, Chinese Chemical Society, located in Taipei and GlaxoSmithKline Taiwan.
We were honoured with the presence of representatives from all of these partner organizations at the opening and Grand Finale of the YACs workshop. This level of collaboration is a very good model for the future of the project.
Workshops Young Ambassadors for Chemistry
The week of workshops introduced 25 participants (chemistry and language teachers, science museum collaborators) from all around Taiwan to the Science Across the World programme as a vehicle for public understanding and prepared them for the YAC Day on Friday. With the aim of ‘raising public understanding of chemistry’ the YACs project provides training for chemistry and language teachers and a chemistry celebration day for students in a public location.
Taipei offered ideal circumstances for our first venue at the Graduate Institute for Science Education. Prof Mei-Hung Chíu from this institute along with Dr Shu-Nu Chang provided impeccable organisation and facilities. A large stand with all details of the week and our YAC logo decorated both venues during the whole week. Visitors also saw a nice selection of posters from last years successful poster competition. All course materials were collected in a course book, again with logo and packed in a wonderful sustainable bag. Many thanks to them, and to their team of volunteer students, without which the week would not have been so successful.
During the first two days of the workshops we had the pleasure of having Prof Choon Do from Korea as our special guest. He will investigate to organise a YAC event in Korea.
Monday – Thursday
After introductions, the participants gave presentations on their schools or (science) museums, debated science issues and discussed the concept of ‘active learning’. The participants were introduced to Science Across the World (www.scienceacross.org) and they had the chance to sign up for free and join this programme of over 3100 teachers in 99 countries around the world. We concentrated on two topics: 'Chemistry in our lives' and 'Talking about genetics around the World'.
We practised the 'experiments'; for Genetics a large DNA molecule from sweets, for Chemistry in our lives a cosmetic line with three coherent products. The groups presented their new line during the course dinner with creative TV commercials.
After four days of training, certificates of recognition were handed out with many hugs and kisses.
Friday YAC day
And then there was the YAC Day!
This wasn't just in any public place, this was in the shopping centre in Taipei 101, the tallest building (508 m) in the world!
The Young Ambassadors for Chemistry project ended literally with a storm in Taipei.
The 72 students worked very hard to show the public how wonderful chemistry is.
They composed the line of cosmetics and their TV commercial to promote the line and the DNA model, hardly noticing the very windy weather.
Prof Chíu announced the Grand Finale and after joining together a 15-metre DNA sweets model and the presentations of the commercials the jury had a hard job to find winners.
At the end of this great day the winning students got their prizes and all students were offered a certificate of recognition and presents from the different participating organisations.
Results from the roving reporters
Apart from the students that worked on cosmetics and DNA we had three groups of roving reporters. They asked the public questions about the activity and their opinions about chemistry. As a present the reporters gave the public stickers with the YAC logo.
A few citations from the public
Should be indoor, should go to elementary schools and communities.
Help us understand life and world.
Has positive influence on our life and can improve our society.
Protect the environment, save the resources on the earth.
Applying chemistry to life is easier to learn.
The starting point is good, but it might be not the same in the end!
If we didn’t deal with it well, it will become pollution.
Some kind of chemical foods will bring negative influence when we eat too much.
I don’t access chemistry in my usual life.
The first thing comes out from chemistry is “explosion”.
The impression about chemistry is only the tests (exams).
‘In Taiwan, like so many other countries, this student activity was very useful. Such a large percentage of the public never thinks about all the good things chemistry offers mankind. We should work on banning the explosions and only relating chemistry to exams in school…’.
We were thrilled to see an article about the YACs event, published in the United Daily News, Taiwan's newspaper with the largest number of subscriptions!
Two packs from Science Across the World are now translated into Chinese (you can find these packs at the Science Across website at the links for ‘Chemistry in our lives’ and ‘Talking about Genetics around the World’). This alone is a wonderful achievement which gives a large population of the science education world access to a programme that enhances public understanding of chemistry so well!
Our next stop is South America… summer 2005! In Buenos Aires we hope to be able to collaborate with as many organisations as in Taiwan. And as the participants in Taipei expressed, they would have liked more English teachers in the group, we will aim for more, in collaboration with the chemistry teachers.
The event in Taipei could be organised with the support of many partners. Those partners are:
International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (www.iupac.org/projects/2003/2003-055-1-050.html);
Science Across the World (www.scienceacross.org);
National Taiwan Normal University (www.chem.ntnu.edu.tw/WWW_edc_eng/english.htm): Chairman Department of Chemistry Prof Chung-Yuan Mou, Prof Mei-Hung Chíu, Dr Shu-Nu Chang;
National Science Council, Taiwan (www.nsc.gov.tw/en): director Dr Fou-Lai Lin;
British Council, Taipei (www2.britishcouncil.org/taiwan.htm): director Gordon Slaven, Richard Law, Hsin-Yuan Lai, Iris Hung;
Chinese Chemical Society, located in Taipei (www.sinica.edu.tw/~ccswww/ccs_eng.htm): president Prof Kan-Nan Chen;
GlaxoSmithKline Taiwan (www.gsk.com/countryhubs/tw/docs): Human Resource & Corporate Affairs Director Deborah Hsu, Rosa Chang.
Apart from the above mentioned organisations, we would also like to thank
Cognis Taiwan (www.cn.cognis.com/china/gccognis.html) for offering the main ingredient for preparing the shampoo;
BioRad, Life Science Education, for donating the 'genes in a bottle kit' enabling students to extract their own DNA (www.biorad.com).