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Train the Trainer Workshop in Thailand Yields Bright Future for Asia Pacific Region

From 23-28 January 2012, GLOBE hosted a Lower Mekong Initiative Train-the-Trainer workshop at Mae Fah Luang University in Chiang Rai, Thailand. The week-long workshop qualified 61 GLOBE trainers and two teachers from seven countries including Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Nepal, Philippines, Vietnam, and Thailand. In addition to increasing capacity in current GLOBE countries, the workshop was held in order to offer prospective countries the opportunity for GLOBE training. This event was made possible by the gracious support of the United States Embassy in Bangkok. The embassy made provisions to assure that teachers from the Lower Mekong could travel to Thailand to receive training in Atmosphere, Hydrology, Land Cover, and Soil investigation area protocols. The workshop marks a significant step towards a hopefully sustainable regional and sub-regional cooperation, initially among participating countries.

The workshop gives the Thailand team a cadre of qualified trainers to help promote the use of textbooks on a larger scale, to operate hand-in-hand with GLOBE protocols. GLOBE Country Coordinator Dr. Pornpun Waitayangkoon stated, "If this workshop could be repeated, we could look forward to a more widespread teaching of ESS and use of GLOBE protocols in Thailand in the years to come."

Associate Professor Dr. Vanchai Sirichana, President of Mae Fah Luang University, opened the event followed by Dr. Pornpun Waitayangkoon, President of the Institute for the Promotion of Teaching Science and Technology (IPST). Rick Switzer, Department of State Regional ESTH officer, provided introductory remarks, stressing the importance of science activities as a means for having a sustainable environment. He stated, "The GLOBE program focuses on collaboration among student, teachers, educators, scientists, government officials and others around the world. This workshop is a unique opportunity for participants to become officially certified by GLOBE as national trainers qualified to lead teacher training in their respective countries, and ultimately leading to many collaborative research projects among students, teachers, and scientists that will improve education and attain a better understanding of the Earth system." Dr. Teresa Kennedy, International Division Director for the GLOBE Program Office, provided an overview of GLOBE around the world and highlighted the accomplishments of the region. "GLOBE Thailand has been one of the leading countries in the Asia Pacific GLOBE region since joining the program in 1999. They have hosted events for teachers, trainers and master trainers, and have also held many student research events that include their neighboring countries in the region." She thanked GLOBE Thailand for including representatives from Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, and Vietnam in the important workshop.

At the conclusion of the welcoming ceremony, participants were split into two groups to begin basic GLOBE protocol training. The first two days of the workshop were dedicated to Land Cover and Soil investigation, and the remaining time was spent on Atmosphere and Hydrology protocols. Break-out sessions entailed several different teaching methods to keep participants engaged and to also serve as models for teaching in the classroom. Instructors utilized computers, textbooks, visual demonstrations, and field work to help participants fully understand the protocols. Participants also spent time practicing the protocols outside on the beautiful campus in order to familiarize themselves with the processes for future teaching.

Associate Professor Dr. Mullica Jareonsutasinee noted, "GLOBE is awesome. Kids just love to take a look at what is in the pond at school, so participating in GLOBE is fun at any grade level."

The participants enjoyed engaging themselves in various training activities and interacting with one another throughout the week. As is usual in any 'fun' training, many participants felt the workshop was too short. This is certainly a good sign and IPST hopes to build on the momentum and keep them active in the network. Director of the Asia Pacific Regional Help Desk Office, Dr. Desh Bandhu from the Indian Environmental Society stated, "By instilling curiosity and the desire to learn about the environment in children at an early age, you promote thoughtful communities and help create adults that can make informed decisions.

The workshop was deemed a success by all involved. Associate Professor Dr. Sompong Thammathaworn stated, "The goal of this program is to get students to think about their environment in a different way and ask ‘why' to scientific questions." Dr. Charlie Navanugraha, Dean of Faculty of Environment and Resource Studies at Mahasarakham University, stated, "GLOBE activities could be applied and stimulate students to protect their own natural resources and the environment. The workshop not only allowed each country to increase their stock of qualified trainers, it also served as a platform for Lower Mekong countries to network and share ideas. Associate Professor Dr. Krisanadej Jareonsutasinee noted, "The GLOBE Program provides a great way to foster our young generation to think scientifically. Climate change is a hot issue and GLOBE Atmosphere protocols are a great start for students to monitor their local weather."

GLOBE Country Coordinator Dr. Pornpun Waitayangkoon sees the workshop as "an important step towards further development of GLOBE," and stated, "The ultimate beneficiaries of this workshop are Thai school students." In the experiences of Thai students, the hands-on approach of GLOBE results in a more solid understanding of ESS, greater appreciation of their local environment, greater development of their scientific skills and a deeper motivation for science.

Mr. Switzer stated, "The GLOBE Program's recent workshop in Chiang Rai, Thailand was an all-around success and brought new skills to Southeast Asia's science educators and students of science alike. The Department of State's Regional Environment, Science and Health Office for East and Southeast Asia was honored to collaborate with the globally recognized team of GLOBE trainers to improve science education in the region. The workshop, which was co-hosted by the Ministry of Education of Thailand, was a testament to the program's strong and growing partnerships in the region."

This event would not have been possible without the support of the U.S. Embassy, the GLOBE team in Thailand, and the participation of all of the devoted GLOBE trainers and teachers. Thank you for contributing a direct hand to the education of youth and preparation of future leaders in Thailand and the Lower Mekong.

Browse more photos from this event on the GLOBE Science Network Facebook page.

Read more about GLOBE activities in Thailand: