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10 November 2008

TWAS Awards First Regional Prizes for Science Education

TWAS has awarded its first Regional Prizes for Development of Educational Material and School Science Curricula. The awards ceremony took place at the TWAS 19th General Meeting and 25th Anniversary Celebration in Mexico City, Mexico.

The prizes, which are given by each of the Academy's five regional offices, recognize individuals who have made 'significant and innovative contributions to educational material and school science curricula that have helped to advance the quality of science education.' Each recipient receives a US$3,000 cash prize.

  • The TWAS Regional Office for Central and South Asia (TWAS-ROCASA) has awarded the prize to Arvind Kumar, senior professor and director of the Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education (HBCSE), Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, in Mumbai, India. For the past two decades, Kumar has been involved in curricular development for India's National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT). He played a key role in launching the science Olympiad movement in India and currently chairs the Steering Committees for the science and astronomy Olympiads. He has also initiated new programmes at the Centre in science and mathematics curriculum and the history of science. In 2004, he conceived and launched the National Initiative on Undergraduate Science programme, which promotes excellence in tertiary science education and catalyses undergraduate student research in India. Kumar has authored or co-authored a number of books on science and science curricula. He is a Fellow of the Indian National Academy of Sciences.
  • The TWAS Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean (TWAS-ROLAC) has awarded the prize to Carlos Bosch, founder of Mexico's Mathematical Olympiad and 'La Ciencia en tu Escuela' (Science in Your School) programme. As director of the Mathematical Olympiad from 1987 to 1995, Bosch led an effort to create math clubs and scientific activities outside the classroom that enabled professional mathematicians to interact with students and teachers. He also has served as an advisor for initiatives to develop Olympiads in biology, chemistry and physics. 'La Ciencia en tu Escuela', coordinated by the Mexican Academy of Sciences, brings teachers and scientists together to find new and attractive ways to teach these subjects. The programme, which emphasizes an inquiry-based approach, has been extended to rural areas of Mexico with excellent results. Bosch is the author of a number of books on mathematics. He has also written articles on the subject for the popular press.
  • The TWAS Arab Regional Office (TWAS-ARO) has awarded the prize to Saouma BouJaoude, chair of the Department of Education and professor of Science Education at the American University of Beirut (AUB), Lebanon. In addition to teaching science education methods to school teachers, BouJaoude has been involved in science curriculum development and promoting inquiry-based education in a number of countries, including Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar and Yemen. In Lebanon, for example, he served on the government's committee supervising the development of science curriculum and as a consultant to its science textbook committee. In Egypt, he served as Education Advisor of the New School Program, where he helped produce teacher training manuals and supervised the production of education kits to help teachers implement student-centred teaching methodologies. He has published numerous research articles and is co-author of Teaching Science by Inquiry, a manual of inquiry-based activities for science teachers.
  • The TWAS Regional Office for East and South-East Asia and the Pacific (TWAS-ROESEAP) has awarded the prize to Gong Peng, head of the Scientific Education Department of Northeast Yucai School (NEYC) in Shenyang, China. Peng specializes in developing innovative scientific curricula. He instructs teachers on how to plan and implement interactive classroom activities and to design 'multi-subject' classrooms. He has authored or co-authored a number of textbooks, including Creative Work in Science and Technology and Electronic Techniques for High School Students. He has also published articles in national journals. In 2004, he was invited by the China Association for Science and Technology (CAST) to join the French Scientific Education Commission to review educational approaches in five countries. In 2007, he was named 'Best Instructor' by the China National Institute for Educational Research, and one of the National Top 10 Best Science Teachers by CAST.
  • The TWAS Regional Office for Sub-Saharan Africa (TWAS-ROSSA) has awarded the prize to Moyra Keane, academic advisor in the science faculty of the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa. Keane has been involved in curriculum design and implementation in South Africa for more than 25 years. Her interests focus on integrating physics and chemistry learning into daily life and exploring relevance from a learner-centred perspective. She has taught in high schools, outreach programmes, inner-city schools for street children and community-based learning projects in rural areas. She currently teaches an undergraduate course on issues in curriculum design and supervises research projects examining innovations in science curricula. Her path-breaking projects include: 'chemical picnics' for science students (investigating chemistry at the beach); 'chemical trails' (guided walks through an environment looking at chemical problems and features); and science in the community (bringing students together with farmers).

The TWAS Regional Prizes, which were launched in 2007, rotate each year among three areas. Last year's prizes were given for the popularization of science. In 2009, they will recognize institution-building efforts in the sciences.

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