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The Journey to 1,000,000: IAEA Organizes the Third Training Course in a Series Which Aims to Teach a Million Students about Nuclear Science


Participants engage in a hands-on exercise to strengthen their understanding and use of the unique equipment used to support nuclear applications. (Photo: IAEA)

In January 2018, under the framework of an ongoing regional technical cooperation project[1], the IAEA launched an ambitious initiative to inspire a new generation of nuclear scientists and engineers, aiming to engage students at an early age and catalyze their interest in nuclear science and technology. In support of this initiative, the first training course took place in Indonesia in April 2018 and was followed by a second course at the Argonne National Laboratory. Last month, The University of Tokyo (UTokyo), supported by the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA), hosted the third IAEA Train-the-Trainers Workshop for secondary school teachers, which showcased and shared best practices, policies and methods to educate their pupils in nuclear science.

The goal is to reach one million students in Asia and the Pacific by 2021, through its TC programme, sensitizing them to the developmental benefits of nuclear science and technology. The initiative—the first time that the Agency has formally engaged with the secondary education teaching community—is being organized around seven training courses, each designed to provide teachers with the scholastic tools and methods needed to teach young students about nuclear applications.

From 18 February to 1 March 2019, 16 educators from 13 countries in the Asia and the Pacific region joined IAEA and JAEA counterparts on the campus of The University of Tokyo to explore how best to infuse nuclear-related subjects into their science curriculums.

"Cooperation among expert, pilot and newcomer countries of the [technical cooperation project] is really important to sustain our activities for a long time. The combination of sharing and providing feedback will be the key," said Professor Iimoto Takashi, Division for Environment, Heath and Safety at The University of Tokyo, and director of the Train-the-Trainers Course. “If teachers enjoy it, then students will enjoy it," he continued. 

The training course participants in front of The University of Tokyo's famous Red Gate. (Photo: UTokyo)

The course consisted of two components: a technical segment and a pedagogical segment. The technical segment consisted of lectures and hands-on exercises and visits to a selection of JAEA’s nuclear sites. The programme provided a comprehensive overview of the fundamental aspects, applications and risk management practices relevant to nuclear science and technology. The pedagogical segment, on the other hand, shared the experiences of counterparts in the Philippines and Indonesia, respectively. International experts present at the course presented model activities they developed and explored the details of their lesson plans and their evaluation criteria for students.

Dimas Irawan from the Indonesian Nuclear Regulatory Agency (BATAN), who led the pedagogy session alongside Micah Pacheco, Regional Science Supervisor at the Philippine Ministry of Education, said, "Providing the attending science teachers and educators with updated information and technical knowledge, together with effective lesson plans, is essential to fostering constructive learning. It will encourage the young generation to join science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM) studies, especially in nuclear science and technology. Furthermore, this workshop helps Member States to strengthen their country’s academic system in its delivery of nuclear science education."

Nabil Al-Habsi of the Ministry of Education of Oman, one of the course participants, agreed. “I will share the knowledge that I got in this workshop once I return back to my country and I will lead and train a lot of educators and trainers through Oman’s National Science Weeks and the Science Festival, as well as through the action plan that we will provide for the transfer of training to our country,” he said.

“This event, and indeed the project under which it was organized, will develop competences of teachers, so they will be able to engage actively and regularly with students on subjects related to nuclear science,” explained Jane Gerardo-Abaya, Director of the Technical Cooperation Division for Asia and the Pacific. “The course aims at creating a pipeline of future professionals for nuclear science and technology in the region, which is the ultimate goal of the project’s goal of reaching a million students in Asia and the Pacific.” 

[1] RAS/0/079 ‘Regional Training Course for Teachers to Introduce Nuclear Sciences in Secondary Schools through Innovative Approaches’

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