Dow Thailand Group continues with its program to empower science teachers through “Small Scale Chemistry Laboratory” training. Under the umbrella of the “Dow Chemistry Classroom Project”, the training is aimed at transferring knowledge to students and producing young scientists to further drive the country. The training has to date engaged more than 1,200 teachers in 6 batches and benefited more than 65,000 students. The small scale lab boasts safety, low cost, low chemical use, short activity time and low waste.
As a global science group, Dow has placed emphasis on STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) in Thailand. “Dow Chemistry Classroom” is designed primarily to enhance science teachers’ capability through the Small Scale Chemistry Laboratory. The lab offers small kits for science experiments, which are safe, efficient and inexpensive. The lab requires a small amount of chemicals and a short experiment period. At the end, the experiments leave less chemical waste and a large number of students effectively gain hands-on experience from the experiments.
Dow Thailand Group’s latest technique training, Batch #6, was organized on 31 May 2019 at Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Science, drawing 200 teachers from across the country.
Poranee Kongamornpinyo, Southeast Asia Corporate Affairs Leader, said that the small scale lab has been continuously promoted among teachers and students nationwide. To date, more than 1,200 teachers from over 700 schools have participated in the training, effectively transferring knowledge to more than 65,000 students. Seventy six role-model teachers from ‘Dow Chemistry Classroom’ have been selected for additional training to become instructors.
“The small-scale chemistry laboratory technique training helps teachers and students overcome the shortage of labs and experiment kits. The plastic kits are widely used in the microbiology, molecular biology, medical laboratory and nanotechnology fields. They are cheaper than glass test tubes applied in general chemical experiments. Small daily-use items can also be modified and used in the small-scale lab.”
The techniques are recognized for high efficiency and safety, with recognition by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The techniques ensure effective and fast learning. Importantly, the small-scale experiments require a small amount of chemicals, thus limiting the chance of chemical contact and possible harm. Chemical leaks can be quickly contained. The experiment period is shorter. Overall, the experiments promise higher safety than chemical experiments in general.
Dow Thailand Group kicked off the small-scale chemistry laboratory technique training in late 2013 in Rayong before extending it to other areas in the East. The program has to date covered all parts of Thailand. Participating teachers are also encouraged to develop their own small kits with any materials and submit the kits to win a DOW-CST Award. The 2019 DOW-CST Award is open for entries until 30 November and the results will be announced on 18 December 2019.
From training to classroom
Small-Scale Chemistry Laboratory technique training Batch #6 will involve 4 experiments: 1) gas diffusion 2) base acid titration 3) acid rain and 4) physical properties of carbon dioxide. Role-model teachers will pass on the techniques to participants, who will receive 4 experiment kits for classroom use.
Teacher Ratanaphan Uttameemang, from Srisawatwittayakarn School in Nan province, is one of the role-model teachers for this year’s training. She said that she attended training Batch #4 and applied what she learned with her students. She used the donated experiment kits in her classroom. Her students were excited by the experiments which needed no laboratory and showed clear results. The kits are easy to use and can be used anywhere. There is no hassle with ensuring safety. She also shared the techniques with colleagues and let them use the experiment kits. The kits were also the focal point of the school’s “Path to the Olympics” Camp, which promoted the school’s small-scale laboratory chemistry teaching with practical tools.
Teacher Chayanan Raksasri, from Phra Khanong Pittayalai School, will be attending the training in Batch #6. He decided to attend the training out of curiosity in chemistry and conviction that the small-scale kits will be highly useful in the classroom. He said the kits are easy to use and are inexpensive, allowing each of the students to conduct the experiments. On the contrary, schools tend to have limited kits for large-scale experiments, enabling only some students to do the experiment while others have to look on. With these hands-on the experiments, students learn and understand better from what they observe. And observation is a key in chemistry learning.
“Most students are more enthusiastic about doing experiments than learning only from textbooks. The small-scale lab allows them to do so and they are delighted when they see the results of their work. This effectively increases their passion for Chemistry,” Teacher Chayanan said.
Extra knowledge: tacking plastic waste with Circular Economy
As an overture to the Small-Scale Chemistry Laboratory technique training, Pratat Sutaputra, Commercial Manager of Dow Thailand Group, delivered a special lecture on plastics and sustainable management of plastic waste. Designed to raise awareness about waste segregation, his lecture entitled “Plastics for Sustainability” started with the fact that Thailand is the world’s sixth biggest contributor to ocean waste. Fifteen public, private and civil society organizations therefore collaborated to tackle the issue of plastic waste sustainably. Signing the pact on 5 June 2018, they set a common goal to reduce ocean waste by half by 2027, from about 2 million tons. Of the total, only 0.5 million tons of plastic waste has been recycled and the rest goes to landfills and may slip into the ocean.
The Thai government has put in place a plastic waste management master plan (2018-2030), applying Circular Economy to deal with waste in a sustainable manner. The plan targets replacing plastic with environmentally-friendly materials and achieving 100% recycling by 2027. Circular Economy is globally recognized as a sustainable way of dealing with plastic waste, as it emphasizes recycling and reuse of materials. Nevertheless, Circular Economy will be effective only with the right knowledge and perception among consumers about waste segregation as well as efficient management infrastructure.