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Bringing the Atom to Filipino Classrooms: PNRI Develops Educational Materials on Nuclear S&T

What is nuclear energy? Is radiation all around us? Is it useful in our daily life? And are there jobs related to nuclear and radiation technology here in the Philippines? These are typical questions from the average high school student about nuclear science.

To help teachers in bringing the benefits of the atom in Filipino classrooms, researchers from the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (DOST-PNRI) have developed a series of educational resources on the basic facts and benefits of nuclear science in various fields, with funding and support from the Department of Energy through its Nuclear Energy Program Implementing Organization (DOE-NEPIO).

Ten booklets, authored by PNRI experts, cover topics ranging from the basics of atomic structure and radioactivity, nuclear applications in agriculture, industry and the environment, radiation safety and protection, the use of nuclear power for producing electricity across the globe, and potential careers students may take related to nuclear science and technology.

The diversity of topics, connection to the K12 curriculum, and simplified language is hoped to make nuclear science more relatable and interesting to students, eventually encouraging them to take a career in science, technology, engineering, agriculture and mathematics (STEAM), as well as increasing public understanding of nuclear science and technology.

The booklets were accompanied by ten animated videos on the same topics which illustrate and simplify the otherwise advanced concepts, allowing for a fun learning experience for both high school students and teachers.

The materials will be hosted online through a dedicated portal where teachers, students and other stakeholders can view and download them. Hardcopies of the booklets will later be distributed to students across the Philippines through DOST-PNRI’s partnerships with the Department of Education and the Philippine Science High School System.

Developing the educational resources started in 2019 and was carried through despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The resources received funding and support from the Department of Energy through its Nuclear Energy Program Implementing Organization.

PNRI is a member of the Nuclear Energy Program Inter-Agency Committee (NEPIAC), which was created by Executive Order 116 signed by President Rodrigo Duterte in July 2020. NEPIAC engaged in a study for the adoption of a national position on nuclear power, spearheaded by DOE and with DOST as vice chair.

The development of educational resources is also part of the larger effort by PNRI to support teachers through its Nuclear Science and Technology Education Program (nSTEP+) for K-12 Teachers and Students

Aiming to support, strengthen, and sustain nuclear science and technology education in the Philippines, the nSTEP+ provides opportunities to enrich teachers and students’ knowledge, skills and experiences in nuclear science.

These include the conduct of special training for teachers in nuclear science, partnerships with scientists and researchers for investigatory projects, internships for STEM students, and outreach programs on nuclear S&T, among others.

The Launching of Education Resource Materials on Nuclear Science and Technology was held virtually on May 6, 2021, at 10 AM, hosted via Zoom and the PNRI FB page.