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Students and Teachers in Asia and the Pacific Share their Innovative Visions for Development using Nuclear Science and Technology


Liu Hua, Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Technical Cooperation giving his congratulatory remarks at the Virtual Education Exhibition on 25 November. (Photo: M. Mishar/IAEA)

Budding future scientists from across Asia and the Pacific, alongside the teachers paving their way, are showing plenty of initiative as they demonstrate how nuclear science and technology can contribute to a better future. Students and teachers from the region have submitted their ideas to the 2021 Virtual Education Exhibition on Nuclear Science and Technology (NST), presented with the support of the IAEA.

More than 20,000 people from over 100 countries have visited the exhibition, part of an extensive online event to encourage secondary school students and teachers to explore the many applications of nuclear science and technology. The exhibition consists of videos selected as the finalists in a competition for schools.

The Virtual NST Education Exhibition Competition

“The NST Secondary Education Competition highlights the impact of the IAEA TC regional project on ‘Educating Secondary Students and Science Teachers on Nuclear Science and Technology’, in expanding and sustaining education in the Asia and the Pacific Region,” said Jane Gerardo-Abaya, Director of the IAEA Technical Cooperation Division for Asia and the Pacific.

The competition, open to high school students from Member States participating in the regional project, encouraged young people to think creatively about the role of NST in meeting the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly in the fields of food security and human health. Teachers also had the chance to present innovative teaching modules for secondary level education.

Overall, participants from 37 schools and institutions of learning in the region submitted no less than 200 videos to the competition, and 20 student and 21 teacher submissions were chosen for display at the virtual exhibition.

Judges from the IAEA and relevant institutions evaluated the videos submitted, and eleven students and five teachers were selected as the competition winners. Sunil Sabharwal, former IAEA Technical Officer for the supporting IAEA technical cooperation project, remarked on the work to the student finalists in the food security category. “The videos were informative, accurate, visually appealing and covered everything about applying NST to food security in the allotted five-minute time period,” he said.

Students and teachers alike generated idea after idea about how to ensure access to food and lead healthy lives – using NST to support adaptation to climate change in agricultural settings, and improving the detection and treatment of cancer using nuclear medicine, among others.

Winning students and teachers came from the following schools in the region: SMAN 2 DEPOK (Indonesia); Kuala Besut Secondary School and Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan SANZAC (Malaysia); Al Zahraa Post Basic School (Sultanate of Oman); and Alaminos City National High School, Philippine Science High School – Southern Mindanao Campus,  Muntinlupa Science High School, Sinait National High School, General Emilio Aguinaldo National High School and Andres Bonifacio Integrated School (Philippines). The winning students and teachers will be invited to participate in a week-long study tour at IAEA headquarters in Vienna, and to visit IAEA facilities and laboratories in early 2022.

IAEA regional projects pave the way

Through its regional projects, the IAEA has been supporting countries in Asia and the Pacific to introduce NST in secondary schools and promote the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) approach.

“Teachers participating in the regional projects used the skills they learned there when they took part in the competition, which further highlights the success of the projects,” said Dave Grabaskas, Manager of the Safety and Risk Assessments Group at Argonne National Laboratory in the United States, who helped to develop NST curricula for the IAEA projects.

During the awards ceremony on the final day of the exhibition, the students and teachers were addressed by Hua Liu, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Technical Cooperation. “I applaud all the education professionals who are teaching and inspiring today’s younger generations – as teachers, you are shaping the youth of today into the professionals of the future,” he said.

“The IAEA supports countries in their efforts to reach the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), building capacities to apply nuclear technology for sustainable development,” added Liu.

Virtual tour: NST education networks and initiatives

The Virtual NST Education Exhibition will remain available for visitors until 15 December. Visitors can explore:

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