Tuesday, April 04, 2017

CSEF 2017: JWOC takes STEM to Phnom Penh!

By Sarah Thompson, Education and Volunteer Manager
During the days of March 9th-11th myself, Nesa, and our two JWOC scholarship student Science teachers Rit and Thoeu went to Phnom Penh to represent JWOC in the 3rd annual Cambodian Science and Engineering Festival (CSEF)! This year was quite different to previous years as it was held in the National Stadium so the crowds were larger and there were many performing acts to keep the exhibitors and the visitors entertained. There were over 23,000 attendees at the stadium including schools, other NGOs, and families with young kids. Our goal when attending the CSEF was to share the gift of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) to Cambodian youth while giving our staff and students the chance to gain new ideas and perspectives from other organizations in attendance. For the three full days, we showed 4 experiments and had our microscopes and Samsung tablets full of interactive Science apps on display.
On the opening day, we displayed the ‘Oobleck’ - a much loved experiment from last year. Oobleck is a messy fluid-like substance that can be a solid or liquid depending on the amount of pressure applied to it. Adults and children are always amazed by it and call it ‘magic’ even though it’s a simple mixture of borax, water, cornstarch, and food color. Another popular experiment was ‘Galaxy Slime’ a gooey, glittery, multicolored substance that the younger students loved to make with us at the booth. We also show-cased flowers and cabbage in colored water to show how the capillaries absorb the liquid and change colors according to the food coloring. The second and third day we showed our ‘Magic Milk’ experiment where we used a Q-tip and dropped small amounts of soap into a plate of milk dyed by food coloring. The soap would cause the colors to separate like magic which was really surface tension at work because milk has fat in it and reacts to the soap. The students really enjoyed these short experiments as they were able to do them themselves and get their hands dirty!
After they watched or helped create the experiments, the visiting crowds enjoyed looking at plant and animal cells through our microscopes and using our tablets to play with our apps. We got many questions and smiles from our experiments and Rit, Thoeu and Nesa did wonderful jobs explaining the concepts in both Khmer and English. In order to see all that CSEF had to offer, we took turns walking around the event, networking with other organizations, and taking pictures. Rit was even asked to help out at the British Embassy’s booth where he performed a home-made well experiment using balloons and a water bottle, it was a success judging from the large crowds around the booth. As this was Rit’s first visit to the CSEF representing JWOC he was delighted to experience it and shared some of his thoughts: “This is the first year I went to join the event and I am so happy to have worked as a team with everyone. I learned a lot from the event and enjoyed telling visitors about our experiments. I remembered experiments other booths displayed so I can show them to my students in my science class and I hope they will enjoy it and learn from them.”
The trip to CSEF solidified our commitment to STEM at JWOC and gave us inspiration for our own Science classes as well as for a local Science fair we hope to hold later in the year. It was amazing to see Cambodian youth get excited about Science and technology and learn through hands-on activities.  Using simple ingredients for our experiments, we hoped to inspire and push kids to take a more active role in Science learning at school and at home. JWOC is proud to have shared our Science capabilities and experiments with thousands of children and adults who visited our booth and we are excited for what next year’s CSEF has to bring!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

From Scholarship to Program Manager: Kea Eng's Story

Kea Eng is JWOC's Free Classes Program Manager and a former Scholarship Student. Now he coordinates the Free Classes teachers and ensures over 800 students access quality learning opportunities! We caught up with him to find out his story...

What does education mean to you? Why is it important for our community and Cambodia?
Education is interaction, freedom, experiences and sharing to others. It is important for our local community and Cambodia because it means everyone is getting proper, quality and equal education that supports morals and growth. If we gain the knowledge and experience from school and society we can share with others and develop ourselves without violence, changing people’s mindset, awareness and courage to think, grow and to reflect upon one's community and/or country.
How has your education impacted your life? 
I am a JWOC former scholarship student and now Free Classes Program Manager (managing 40 scholarship teachers within the program). The reason I’ve reached this level is because I have received a quality, equal and proper education from others and from JWOC.
I was born in 1992 in my hometown - 30km from Siem Reap town to the east. There are 5 members in my family including me, an elder brother, a younger sister, and my parents. I am a second child in the family. My elder brother and younger sister stopped studying when they graduated from primary school because of our family situation, so their education is very low. I was the only sibling that was able to continue studying until, through JWOC, I graduated with a bachelor degree in Teaching English as a Foreign Language. I am currently pursuing my master’s degree in TESOL and my family situation has improved as they’ve come back from Thailand (where they were working) to live closer to each other.
Before I became a JWOC scholarship student, my parents could not afford to pay for my university as they were farmers and did not own any land. My father became a builder or day labourer in a farm and often lived away from home. Through this job he could just receive a small salary to support the family so asked my brother and sister to stop studying in grade nine; he kept me in school because he knew that I loved to learn. After that, my elder brother and father went and worked in other provinces to make money to support the family; keeping me, my sister and mother at home alone. We started to grow the vegetables and plants to sell and support my learning, but it didn’t work well.
Kea cycles in JWOC's 2016 Race4Education
Their continued support and encouragement helped me to succeed in my studying. They helped me until I graduated high school and passed, despite many obstacles. To pay them back, I wanted to earn money to support my family, but I thought that my knowledge from school and my teaching experience (from volunteering) wasn’t enough to get a steady job to work and well-paid. So I decided I wanted to go to university; however, I didn’t have the money to pay for the school fees. I was given information from one of my friends about JWOC scholarships so I decided to look and apply as soon as I could. After I received the scholarship at JWOC I could still not find well-paid job so part of my family moved to Thailand to find a better income, leaving me alone in Siem Reap.
When I was in the first year at university, I became a receptionist in a small guest house which supported my living and food. Six months later, I had become a part-time teacher of English in an international school (for a year). When I started my third year at university, I became a caretaker and teacher of English at JWOC before being promoted to be a full-time Free Classes Support Officer at JWOC. Finally, I become a Free Classes Program Manager after I graduated in September 2015, now I’m able to offer everyone the opportunity of a quality education through my program.
The story of myself, my family and how I have worked to help my community has, in turn, hugely impacted and influenced my education. I hope that through this experience I can inspire scholarship students and others.
What do you believe the future of education is for your community and Cambodia?
I believe that the future of education is going to gradually improve to be more interactive and of a high quality for my community and Cambodia. If we can build many scholars to understand education and its practice, then we can apply effective strategies to the current system in Cambodia. This process will need time but is worth the investment.
My last message to parents and students
“Parents have to send their children to school to receive education and knowledge for a better future. All students must learn through school and other experiences to develop ourselves, our families, communities and our country.”

Monday, March 06, 2017

Back to School - Sylvia's JWOC Experience

I come from a normal family in Hong Kong and I worked in the hospitality industry.  Last year, I came to Siem Reap as a tourist and I met a JWOC Scholarship Student graduate at a boutique hotel – it was then that I first heard about JWOC and the work they do.
Despite the country’s tragic history, I was touched by the kindness and smile of Cambodians – the thought of returning to this place has clung to my heart since then.
“It is more blessed to give than to receive.” While we are receiving all-rounded education in Hong Kong, and working very hard to earn a living; there are people in Cambodia who have a thirst for knowledge, but struggle to find work because there is little chance to study.  Education is the requisite for becoming self-sufficient and creating future leaders here. 
I was assisting a team of passionate teachers in the Free Classes (supplementing to their usual classes at Public Schools) over the past few weeks.  I did enjoy it very much! The kids are innocent and willing to learn.  They simply made me smile every time when I enter JWOC. Seeing them reminds me to always show appreciations and be humble – instead of taking things for granted!
Thank you JWOC team for all the hard work and love! 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Creativity in the Classroom: JWOC Teacher Development Workshops

The Free Classes' February Teacher Development Workshop took place on Sunday 5th Feb. Led by JWOC's Child Development Coordinator and Librarian Sonesa Khuon, it focused on 'Facilitation Skills using Creative Art Techniques', we caught up with her to find out how it went.

Please can you describe the training that you did in today’s teacher development workshop?
The training in today’s Teacher Development Workshop was named ‘Facilitation Skills using Creative Art Techniques’. As art class team leader and library class teacher the training can help our scholarship student teachers to build ideas, think creatively and in turn apply such skills into their lessons and classrooms. I focused on sharing methods to build closer relationships between teachers and students (and scholarship student peers), from what I saw the students enjoyed the training, finding it interesting, meaning they can apply it in the classroom.

What methods did you use in the training to support your class?
To start, I asked all students to stand in a circle, stand next to a member of the opposite gender before asking them to hold hands. They felt shy and awkward, but I did this to break barriers and to get them to better know each other. We played the ‘name game’, so everyone knew each other’s name, more than 60% already knew each other. Such games are very good in building up relationships in the classroom, especially as the new term starts and students don’t know each other. Beside games, I asked them to meditate and to think about the teachers (in school and university) they liked and disliked and then what those teachers did right and wrong. This reflection allowed them to realize how they act in the classroom and to understand what they should do to ensure their students enjoy learning with them. This is great way for the students to reflect in a peaceful environment, something most had not done before.

Why is creativity in the classroom important? How do you think it will help the teachers in the classroom and the student’s learning?
Creativity in the classroom is very important as it helps the teacher to introduce new techniques and make the lesson more fun and engaging. It is a modern teaching method practiced in more developed countries. It helps teachers to teach in different styles and make the lesson more interactive so students will not feel bored with the same kind of lessons.

How can the teachers encourage creativity in the classroom?
There are many ways, including playing games, teaching them through songs, changing the classroom layout; as well as different styles of teaching through textbooks, projectors/slideshows, tablets, and changing the classroom environment (teaching inside and outside) etc. These are just a few that we discussed.

Why is creativity important for the next generation of Cambodians? How will it help Cambodia grow?
It is very important for the next generation of Cambodians because it is a new strategy for students and teachers to participate in the learning process. Students will learn through having fun, making the class more interesting, building skills in communication, collaboration, creative and critical thinking. This will help Cambodia grow by making a more reliable human resource which has more creative skills to help people in communities, encouraging innovation and helping Cambodia to develop faster. 

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

STEM @ JWOC: Students present Science!

On December 18th JWOC’s Science students showed their ability and confidence by completing their Science presentations. Topics included Plants, the Environment, Astronomy and Nutrition. At such a young age, students were very brave to stand up in front of their peers and parents show off what they had learned and their favourite science topics. Students had been practicing their presentations over the previous weeks, building their skills and confidence. After each presentation was complete, the students took questions from the audience about their topic, this gave them a chance to show off their extra knowledge on the subject and make sure the audience understood everything.

Parents were very proud of their children and commented on how impressed they were that children were able to present and to show respect to the teacher and audience; they rarely had a chance to see their child’s learning in action.

Science teacher Nesa observed: ‘I’m very proud, I don’t just want them to sit on their seat, I want them to present their work!’ 


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