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OIA Helps Launch Indonesia STEM Project

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ChristinaColon

Columbia Secondary School

Bronx Science


Earlier this spring the Office of International Affairs at Teachers College (TC) welcomed six Indonesian educators—faculty at the Bogor Agricultural University (IPB) and principals from secondary schools from across Java. The small, yet diverse delegation came to New York City to learn about effective methods to improve science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education at the high school level and to witness successful teaching methodologies in the United States.

Led by Dr. Donald Fulton, Adjunct Associate Professor of Science Education, the intensive program prepared by TC took the Indonesian guests to science-focused schools and institutions with a proven record of success in promoting STEM education in the classroom or to the general public (among them, the Columbia Secondary School, the Bronx High School for Science, Ossining High School, the American Museum of Natural History—AMNH—and the New York Botanical Garden—NYBG).  Back on campus, the group learned about pedagogical approaches to motivating reluctant learners and delivering high quality STEM education from TC’s Dr. Jessica Riccio, Dr. Erica Walker, Dr. Xiaodong Lin, and Dr. Fulton, as well as from researchers and practitioners such as Dr. Christina Colon of the Kingsborough Community College and Barbara Poseluzny, Fellow and former President of the Science Teachers Association of New York State. A long-time science educator, Dr. Fulton cherished this “fantastic opportunity to showcase the best of New York’s education in the areas of science, math and technology, as practiced by top schools. It was especially gratifying to bring on board some of the most prominent contributors to educational theory in these subject areas and to share the educational offerings at NYBG and AMNH, two of my favorite places in New York City.”

The School Action for Innovation in Science study tour was the first component of a three-year long program funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which partners Columbia University’s Center for Environment, Economy and Society (CEES), TC and IPB, in an effort to improve STEM education in Indonesia. CEES Director of Education, Professional Development and Outreach Rebecca Johnson has since moved to Indonesia to work with IPB faculty on improving the university’s science-focused teacher training program. TC faculty will travel to Indonesia later this year to help train teachers at three Indonesian high schools. Ultimately, these high schools will feature innovative STEM courses and extra-curricular offerings modeled after best practices witnessed at New York City schools and adapted to the Indonesian context.

When TC sent off its guests, it seemed that the visit had been fruitful. Dr. Sri Nurdiati, Dean of Faculty in the Department of Mathematics and Natural Sciences at IPB, spoke on behalf of the group: “I am very satisfied with what Teachers College has arranged for us. It exceeded our expectations. It is as if you knew precisely what we needed to learn. All of the schools we visited, everything we observed was very useful and there are many things that we could implement.” Her colleague, Heru Widarto, principal of an IPB-affiliated high school, was ready to take the next steps: “The most significant lesson I learned is the focus on creating a positive, motivating academic atmosphere, one which is conducive to learning for everyone, regardless of their ability. I want to share what I saw and learned here once I return to Indonesia.” Next year, when TC faculty members visit Indonesia, they will help Mr. Widarto and the others impart their newly acquired knowledge with teachers at the future model schools.

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