Training the next generation of STEM leaders
Elson Galang leads a network of Intel ISEF alumni in the Philippines. He was an Intel ISEF 2012 finalist and brings alumni in the country together to train hundreds of students and teachers in precollege research, and equip them with skills for science fairs and beyond.
He is inspired by the great work Society for Science & the Public has done. “We have seen how the Society provided the most important platforms for young dreamers to showcase their hard work,” he said. “There are students out there who have the passion for research, are ready to discover solutions to the world’s problems, and want to contribute to a better future for generations to come.”
Read on below to learn more about the robust alumni network in the Philippines, and the recent STEM workshop they led.
PHILIPPINES ALUMNI NETWORK SPREADS THE ‘LIGHT’ TO OTHERS INTERESTED IN STEM: Light through STEM: Regional Precollege Research Workshop is the Network of ISEF Alumni-Philippines(NIAP) project in the Philippine’s Central Mindanao region. It’s funded through the Young Southeast Asian Leaders’ Initiative (YSEALI) of the U.S. government. It was conducted in January 4-7, 2017 and 39 students in grade 8 and 9 participated, including 22 teachers from all over the region.
Despite armed conflicts in the region, our network saw the passion of high school students and teachers to participate in local science fairs. We want to better equip their students and teachers with knowledge and skills in precollege research. But more importantly, we want them to become STEM leaders in their communities and shine the “light” in the midst of the darkness of conflicts.
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Our projecthas three components: the regional workshop on precollege research, online mentoring, and the publication of a precollege research discussion book. Workshop participants attended interactive lectures on topics such as conceptualizing research topics, crafting research plans, and writing scientific papers. Teachers had a special session with activities and lectures about the management of precollege research in the classroom. They also engaged in hands-on activities on experimental designs, statistical analysis, and abstract preparation. There were also special lectures on science leadership and transformations with research.
We have seen how the Society provided the most important platforms for young dreamers to showcase their hard work.
Students attended parallel sessions where they were divided into life sciences or physical sciences. Each group learned important research ethics and regulations in the fields of study. There was also a research quiz competition for the students, where they showcased their knowledge on research breakthroughs in the Philippines and around the world.
The online mentoring portion of the workshop will begin in March. It will provide our student participants with practical assistance as they plan and execute their research. We expect to publish the precollege research discussion book in the next academic year, 2017-2018. We plan to distribute it to our teacher participants to help them teach precollege research in their schools.
A WORKSHOP HIGHLIGHT: One of the highlights of the workshop was the research planning competition. Students were divided into groups to prepare and present an informal research plan inspired by the workshop. They came up with creative ideas and successfully presented their research plans, including topics such as phytoremediation of rice fields, organic fertilizers from pineapples, and pavement blocks from farm by-products. We want them to become STEM leaders in their communities and shine the ‘light’ in the midst of the darkness of conflicts.
NIAP partners with San Pablo City Science High School of Laguna, Philippines to train students in precollege research. Photo courtesy of Tyrone James Luanzon.
PLANS TO GROW THE WORKSHOP: If we are able to outsource more funds, we are planning to scale-up Light through STEMin other conflict regions of the country. We never stopped believing that there are students out there in those regions who have the passion for research, who are ready to discover the solutions to the world’s problems, and who want to contribute to a better future for generations to come.
CONNECTING SOCIETY ALUMNI IN THE PHILIPPINES: There are already over 100 ISEF alumni in the Philippines since 2003. Some of them are already professionals, or in graduate school, and the younger alumni are still in college.
There are students out there who have the passion for research, are ready to discover solutions to the world’s problems, and want to contribute to a better future for generations to come.
Since our inception in 2013, through the initiative of Intel ISEF Philippine Teams 2012 and 2013, our network has had several activities through our partnerships with schools and local education offices around the country. We were first featured by the Society in 2013 and we are happy to share that since then, we have already trained hundreds of teachers and students on precollege research, some of whom have participated in and won local and even international science fairs!
Our network members are also active in sharing their Intel ISEF experiences and stories during the annual National Science and Technology Fair, the ISEF-affiliated fair in our country. In fact, some of those who are already professionals in their respective expertise are now serving as judges!
Since 2013, we’ve trained hundreds of teachers and students on precollege research … some have won local and international science fairs!
We maintain a social media group where we post and share updates. We also have a website where we post news and feature articles about our alumni, Philippine ISEF teams, and network activities. The site is also accessible to students and teachers so they can acquire free learning materials on precollege research. Each Philippine ISEF team also have their own mini-reunion gatherings. We hope to have the funds to organize a grand reunion in the future!
WHAT INSPIRES YOUR NETWORK TO CONTINUE THIS WORK: Our network is most influenced by all the great work Society for Science & the Public has done over decades. We have seen how the Society provided the most important platforms for young dreamers to showcase their hard work and dedication in the form of their science projects. Later on, these young dreamers become the leading scientists and science leaders of their states and countries.
Our network has a long way to go before we can be “the Society of the Philippines.” However, as long as there are students who are eager to learn and research, then we will continue doing what we do. We know that they too will become the best scientists and science leaders of our country.
We know that the cures for the world’s most severe diseases, the solutions to climate change, or the keys to achieve food security can be found in some young dreamer’s heart.
We in the network were once young dreamers as well. We have experienced difficult situations because we only had our school, our library, and the internet as our source of information. It was hard for us if we needed to clarify things such as certain items in the rules and regulations, how to fill out ISEF Forms, or how to prepare our posters. Now, our network aims to ease these difficulties by becoming accessible online consultants on these matters. We want others to feel research is not a burden, but an amazing experience.
MESSAGE TO OTHER ISEF AND SOCIETY ALUMNI: We hope that different countries establish their own ISEF Alumni chapter. We know that the cures for the world’s most severe diseases, the solutions to climate change, or the keys to achieve food security can be found in some young dreamer’s heart.
Elson Ian NYL Ebreo Galang is the Head of the Network of ISEF Alumni-Philippines and was an Intel ISEF 2012 finalist. In December 2016, he graduated with honors from the University of the Philippines Los Baños with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture (Landscape Agroforestry). Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.