Alignment of the Five Planets and the Moon

The event will be visible in the next few weeks, but the best dates to observe are from January 30 to February 6, when the moon joins the alignment. This image shows what the eastern sky should look like on January 30, 2016, at 5:30 am (Image generated using Stellarium).

The alignment of the five planets can be seen from anywhere in the country (and in most parts of the world). It should be visible for as long as you have a clear view of the eastern horizon, and there are no clouds to block your view. It also does not require any special equipment such as telescopes or binoculars. One may simply observe this event from home, from his or her own backyard, using nothing but the eyes.

To view the alignment, simply:

1. Wake up at 5:30 am (your local time) on January 30, 2016.
2. Face the east. If you do not know where east is, simply use a compass or ask someone to show you the direction where the sun rises.
3. Use the map to find the moon first. Once you’ve spotted the moon, it will be very easy to find the rest of the planets.
4. Find the “bright star” to the upper-right of the moon. That “bright start” is actually the planet Jupiter.
5. Find another “bright star” to the lower-left of the moon. That “bright start” is actually the planet Venus.
6. Use the map to find the rest of the planets: Saturn (yellow), Mars (red), and Mercury (white).

The alignment will still be visible in the next few weeks, but the best dates to observe are from January 30 to February 6, when the moon joins them (which makes it easier to locate the planets). As viewed from Earth, the planets and the moon appear to line up, but in reality, they are separated by vast distances.

From Anthony Urbano’s Blog http://nightskyinfocus.com/2016/01/25/moon-joins-the-5-planets-this-weekend/

Institutional Extension Accomplishments

Public Lectures on Climate Change and Productive Pedagogy held at NISMED

Dr. David expounding on climate change.

As part of the activities in the celebration of NISMED’s 49th year and a run-up to its year-long Golden Anniversary celebration in 2014, a public lecture was held on 20 November 2013 at the STTC Auditorium, UP NISMED. The lecture was attended by 325 science and mathematics teachers. The activity was the first of a series of public lectures which aim to promote scientific literacy and contribute to the professional development of science and mathematics teachers.

Two experts were invited to share with teachers current issues and trends relevant to science and mathematics education. The lecturers were Dr. Carlos Primo David, a licensed geologist, a faculty member of the National Institute for Geological Sciences (UP NIGS), and faculty of The Raya School as well as one of the Project Leaders of DOST’s Project NOAH; and Dr. Bill Atweh, an international education consultant, and a retired professor of the University of Brisbane, Australia.

Dr. Francis Molina, a Balik-Scientist asking questions after the lecture of Dr. Atweh.

Dr. Francis Molina, a Balik-Scientist asking questions after the lecture of Dr. Atweh.Dr. David talked on “The Use of Rich Media in Teaching Climate Change.” He focused on the objectives of teaching climate change. According to him, two important points to be considered in teaching the topic are: 1) providing a scientific explanation of the phenomenon and its resulting impact; and 2) inciting an emotion of reaction from the students in terms of what we should be doing about it. He stressed further that “while accurate information is crucial in teaching climate change, the mode of presenting it is what will achieve the second objective.”

Dr. Atweh answers the questions of a teacher-participant during the lecture.

Dr. Atweh, on the other hand, spoked on “Beyond Student-Centered Education Towards Productive Pedagogy.”  During his talk, he emphasized the origins and limitations of the discourses of student-centered approaches. His presentation argued that the discourse of student-centered learning is open to the concern that it fails to pay sufficient attention to the complexity of the classroom and the social purposes of education. Thus, he proposed that through a productive pedagogy framework, the teacher is re-centered at the heart of the educative process and leads to a wider understanding of what schools are for without undermining the rights of the child or the significant knowledge teachers have acquired in terms of the development of learning.

NCSME 2013: A Big Success

The National Conference in Science and Mathematics Education held on 22-24 October 2013 at the Dolores F. Hernandez Hall, Science Teacher Training Center, UP NISMED drew 376 participants from all over the archipelago composed of elementary and high school science and mathematics teachers, faculty of teacher education institutions, graduate students, principals, supervisors, curriculum developers, and researchers.

Dr. Shizumi Shimizu delivers his keynote address after the opening ceremony.

A total of 48 papers were presented across elementary and high school science and mathematics education topics such as lesson study, curriculum, assessment, inquiry-based science teaching and learning, problem solving in mathematics teaching and learning, and ICT integration.

The theme of the conference was “Empowering Teachers for the K to 12 Curriculum through Lesson Study.” The conference objectives included: 1) promotion of lesson study as a professional development model to enhance the capability of teachers in implementing the K to 12 Curriculum for Mathematics and Science; 2) promotion of the teaching of science through inquiry and teaching of mathematics through problem solving in lesson study; 3) providing a forum for discussing and sharing of experiences and research results related to lesson study; and, 4) initiation of a local network on lesson study.

The keynote speaker of the conference was Prof. Shizumi Shimizu of Teikyo University (Japan) who focused on the importance of enhancing the capability of teachers to develop scientific and mathematical proficiency of students through activities that provide opportunities for construction of knowledge by learners and sharpen their communication skills. The other plenary speakers and the titles of their papers are shown below:

Plenary Speaker Title of Talk
Dr. Marilyn D. Dimaano
Bureau of Elementary Education of the Department of Education
Synopsis: K to 12 Basic Education Curriculum
Dr. Soledad A. Ulep
NISMED Director
Using Lesson Study to Promote Teaching Mathematics through Problem Solving and Teaching Science through Inquiry
Dr. Masami IsodaUniversity of Tsukuba, Japan Developing Mathematical Thinking: How to develop it in the classroom
Dr. Tran VuiHue University, Vietnam Developing Experimental Environments for Students-with-Computers: Investigating School Mathematics through Dynamic Visual Representations
Dr. Levi E. Elipane
UP Institute of Mathematics
Integrating the Essential Elements of Lesson Study in Pre-Service Mathematics Teacher Education
Dr. Hideo Ikeda
Hiroshima University, Japan
Innovations in a Science Classroom: Teacher’s Questions and Students’ Reactions
Dr. Francis I. Molina
National Science Digital Library, USA
Learning Progressions for the K to 12 Curriculum: Enhancing Teacher Professional Development
Dr. Yutaka Saburi
Fukui University, Japan
A Science Lesson and a School Reform

UP Diliman Chancellor Dr. Caesar A. Saloma welcomed participants to the conference on the first day, 22 October 2013. He cited the K to 12 curriculum as a major educational reform with the university set to play its role to make Filipino youth competitive in the global arena. The First Secretary of the Political Section of the Embassy of Japan also delivered a congratulatory message to UP NISMED and the participants during the opening program.

One of three batches of participants pose with some of the plenary speakers before the closing ceremony

A novel feature of the conference was the conduct of “open classes,” both in mathematics and science. Two “open classes” were implemented—one by Prof. Mitsuo Nobuchi a Japanese teacher from Mito Eiko Elementary School with 20 Grade IV Filipino pupils from Commonwealth Elementary School (for mathematics) and the other one by Ms. Malou Fajardo from Sta. Lucia High School, Pasig City with 4th year high school students (for science). Salient features of the lesson study process, incorporating the inquiry-based approach in teaching science and the problem-solving approach in mathematics were demonstrated to the participants.

Post-lesson discussions were held after each open class with the teacher first reflecting on the implementation of the lesson followed by comments from a panel consisting of experts from among the speakers/paper presenters and NISMED staff who served as “knowledgeable others.”

On the last day of the conference, Dr. Amelia Punzalan and Ms. Lydia Landrito initiated the network on lesson study among the participants during a brainstorming session which drew positive responses. Mr. Shinichiro Kato, Researcher and Adviser of the Japan Information and Culture Center also invited the participants to apply as scholars of the government of Japan in various types of scholarship programs.

Dr. Rosario I. Alonzo, Dean of the College of Education officially closed the conference on 24 November 2013. In her parting message, Dean Alonzo related how, as a young professional, she eagerly attended conferences and seminar-workshops, too, for her own professional development. She exhorted the participants to go forth and make use of what they learned to enhance their knowledge and skills in their noble profession as educators.

NISMED Participates in 1st UP System-wide REPS Conference  

Four NISMED staff pose with the REPS-UP Diliman team after the conference.

Four NISMED staff attended the 1st UP system-wide Research Extension and Professional Staff Conference held on 12-13November 2013 in BIOTECH, Los Baños. They were Dr. Amelia Punzalan, Ms. Maria Lourdes Agad, Ms. Monalisa Sasing, and Ms. Arlene de la Cruz. With the theme, “Recognizing REPS’ Roles, Achievements and Concerns in UP” the conference provided a venue for the REPS from various constituent units of UP to echo their concerns and address issues related to their roles, qualifications, tenure, and promotion. It also provided an opportunity for a dialogue between the REPS sector and the UP Administration represented by Dr. Gisela Concepcion, Vice President for Academic Affairs, and Dr.  Maragtas SV. Amante, Vice President for Administration.

During the introductory speech of Dr. Concepcion, she expressed the significance of the conference as a venue for the UP administration to listen to the points of view of the REPS sector of the university.

The participants pose with some UP officials after the conference.

On the first day of the conference, Professor Emeritus Evelyn Mae T. Mendoza talked on “REPS― a Force and Partner of UP Towards Attaining World Class Research University Status” which recognized the role of REPS staff in improving the scientific productivity and status of UP as a research university. As such, she encouraged REPS to produce more publications which will make UP comparable to its Asian neighbors, and to consider applying for the Scientific Career System.

On the second day of the conference, Dr. Reynaldo V. Ebora, Director of BIOTECH Los Baños,  talked on “UP REPS and Productivity: Realities, Opportunities and Challenges” and initiated the identification of the challenges that most REPS of UP face such as: 1) job mismatch and misuse of REPS position; 2) low ceilings of REPS items; 3) low morale; 4) low funding for research and extension; 5) inadequate laboratory facilities and infrastructure; 6) unclear administrative policies; and 7) insufficient administrative support.

Workshops were done in the afternoons of the first and second days which served as a venue for the REPS to identify and raise issues. The UP administration immediately responded to the issued raised. The dialogues led to the formation of an ad hoc committee which will serve to finalize the draft of the REPS manual.

NISMED Conducts SMILE Trainings for ARMM Teachers

The Trainer-Participants actively participate in their hands-on Earth science activities.

Four groups of training of trainers (ToT) for Grades 1 and Grades 7 science and mathematics teachers of the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) were conducted in November 2013. The training was dubbed as “Support for the Management of an Improved Learning Environment (SMILE)” which served as a supplemental training on science and mathematics for elementary and high school trainers. The training of Grade 1 Mathematics, and Grades 1, and 7 Science were simultaneously conducted on 18-22 November 2013. The ToTs for Grade 1 Mathematics and Grade 7 Science were held at NISMED while the Grade 1 Science was held at the Waterfront Insular Hotel, Davao City. Grade 7 Mathematics training was also held at the Waterfront Insular Hotel, Davao City on 25-29 November 2013. These training programs were funded by Australian Aid (AusAid) through the Basic Education Assistance for Muslim Mindanao (BEAM), DepEd ARMM, and CardNo.

The Trainer-Participants from Maguindanao II Division pose with the officials from DepEd-ARMM, training staff from NISMED, and Dr. William Welms of BEAM-ARMMM after the closing program.

A total of 229 trainers were trained on inquiry-based science teaching and problem solving-based mathematics teaching anchored on the K to 12 curriculum. A workshop on TIMSS- based test item construction was included for Grade 1 Science and a collaborative lesson planning, presentation and critiquing, and implementation for Grades 1 and 7 Mathematics.  Though science as a subject formally starts at Grade 3 level, the objective of the Grade 1 Science training is to include science topics/concepts as a context in teaching across the different subject areas and introduce inquiry skills among learners.

The objectives of the trainings were to: 1) explain the rationale, philosophy, and features of science and mathematics in the K to 12 curriculum; 2) show spiralling of science/mathematics concepts and interconnections across concepts; 3) apply inquiry-based teaching in science and the problem-solving approach in mathematics in Grades 1 and 7; and 4) demonstrate how content and inquiry/problem-solving skills are interwoven in the teaching of specific science/mathematics concepts using the training modules written for Grades 1 and 7.

During the plenary sessions, trainers had the opportunity to become familiar and conversant with the rationale, philosophy, standards, and learning competencies of the science and mathematics curriculum for Grades 1 and 7 of the new K to 12 curriculum. The high school science trainers expressed their realization that in order to explain a science concept, it has to be related and scaffolded with concepts learned in chemistry, physics, and biology. Moreover, the elementary trainers were also oriented on the new TIMSS cognitive domains and the advantages of developing the appropriate science process skills among their pupils.

In the workshops, all trainers were able to experience hands-on science and mathematics activities playing the role of a Grade 1 or Grade 7 pupil/student. Mathematics trainers also had the opportunity to develop a lesson collaboratively, incorporating the strategy of teaching through problem solving, strengthening the spirit of “teamwork.” The trainers were also able to discuss the development of concepts in learners as well as misconceptions that may arise.

The workshop on assessment among the elementary science trainers also gained a positive response as they were given the chance to present and constructively critique each other’s work for improvement and to prevent misconceptions among the learners. The high school science trainers experienced how to implement hands-on and minds-on activities so that students are actively engaged in learning the concepts. These activities involved various strategies which are appropriate to the development of the specific concepts included in Grade 7.

All the ToTs had a positive feedback from the different groups of trainers. “There is always something new that I get from every session and I also feel privileged because I might be an instrument when I go back to our station and so whatever I have learned from the four corners of this session hall, I will be able to relate to other teacher-trainers who will also deliver these teaching methods to the learners,” says Ms. Mary Ann Jamil of the Sulu Division for the Elementary School Science Group.

The trainers will conduct a mass roll-out for Grades 1 and Grades 7 science and mathematics teachers in all 10 ARMM divisions starting January 2014.

Indian Educators Visit NISMED

Mr. Anthony Guiller Urbano showing an inquiry-based science activity to the Indian educators.

Sixteen Indian educators completed a five-day study visit and a workshop on science education concepts at UP NISMED from 9-13 November 2013. Most of them are secondary school science teachers and all are members of the Rayat Education Society in India.

In the first three days, the participants visited some of the country’s historical landmarks in the Intramuros area, and the National Museum. These places introduced them to Philippine history and Filipino culture. Aside from these places, they also toured the UP Diliman Campus and visited the research institutes like the DNA Laboratory of the Natural Science Research Institute (NSRI), the National Institute of Geological Sciences (NIGS) Museum where they saw different kinds of rocks, minerals, and fossils, and some of the research facilities of the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI) like the Agricultural Research, Chemistry Research, and Irradiation Research facilities.

After the three-day visit to the various institutions, the Indian educators attended a two-day seminar-workshop on inquiry-based science teaching at NISMED. In this seminar-workshop, the participants performed inquiry-based science activities that can be used in teaching Biology (Field Biology), Chemistry (Atoms: Inside Out), Physics (Investigating Relationships among Current, Voltage and Resistance), and Earth and Environmental Science (Simulating Earthquakes and Understanding Typhoons).

At the end of the seminar-workshop, the Indian educators expressed appreciation for inquiry-based teaching as an engaging approach towards teaching science. They also observed that every session in the workshop was very innovative. One participant commented   “this was an amazing educational tour for us; the different teaching experience we got from this tour will definitely be applied in our school.”

Comet Visible this December

The illustration shows the expected position of Comet ISON from December 4 to 16, 2013, 30 minutes before sunrise as viewed from the Philippines. Size of the comet is exaggerated in this image. Image generated using Stellarium.

Comet ISON, one of the most awaited comets this year, will be visible in the Philippines from December 2013 until mid-January of 2014.  It will be the first time for this particular comet to reach the inner solar system, prompting astronomers to predict that it could become very bright once it passes near the Sun on November 29, 2013. The frozen gases on its surface will turn into vapor and produce a bright tail, assuming it will survive the fiery encounter with the Sun.

To find the comet, face the eastern horizon any time from December 4, 2013 to January 14, 2014, at around 5:30 am (30 minutes before sunrise). The comet will be relatively bright and should be visible with the naked eye. Expect to see a small fuzzy blob with a tail, hovering above the horizon. Use of binoculars and telescopes will certainly help in finding it, but they are not necessary.

ISON was discovered in September 2012 by Russian astronomers Nevsky and Novichonok and was named after the telescope used to discover it–the International Scientific Optical Network (ISON). ISON will make its closest approach to Earth on December 27, 2013.

Close Pairing of Moon and Venus on August 10, 2013

There will be a close pairing of the moon and the planet Venus, a perfect chance to enjoy witnessing an astronomical event with family and friends this upcoming long weekend.

The event will be visible to the naked eye, from anywhere in the country, and does not require any special equipment. Face the western horizon on August 10, 2013, just after sunset, at around 6:30 pm and you will be greeted with a beautiful sight: the crescent moon beside a very bright star-like object, the planet Venus.

The close pairing of celestial objects occurs whenever two celestial objects appear to be in the same direction in the sky as viewed from Earth. While the two objects would seem very close toeach other, in reality, they are separated by vast distances.

Disaster Preparedness: Just a Click Away!

In celebration of UP NISMED’s 48th anniversary last 20 November 2012, Dr. Alfredo Mahar A. Lagmay, the Executive Director of Project NOAH (Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards),  was invited to talk on “Disaster Preparedness: Just a click away!”

Dr. Lagmay began the lecture with a slide on the natural hazards in the Philippines such as pyroclastic flow, lahar, tsunami, landslides, and floods.   These natural hazards make the Philippines vulnerable to environmental disasters.  Project NOAH was then launched by the Department of Science and Technology as a responsive program of the government for disaster prevention and management.  This program is specifically tasked to provide a 6-hour lead-time warning to vulnerable communities against impending floods and to use advanced technology to enhance current geo-hazard vulnerability maps.  Dr. Lagmay showed the audience how to navigate the Project NOAH website (http://noah.dost.gov.ph) and how to use the website’s tools.  In the course of his lecture, Dr. Lagmay was upbeat and humorous as he recounted his experiences in coordinating collaboration between the public and the private sectors and during his interaction with the audience during the open forum.

The public lecture was held at the UP NISMED Dolores Hernandez Hall Auditorium.  Among those who attended the lecture were elementary and high school teachers from Balara Elementary School, Commonwealth Elementary School, Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo High School, Krus na Ligas High School, First Asia Institute of Technology and Humanities, some faculty members of the UP College of Education, Dr. Celia Bulan of the UP College of Arts and Letters and her class, and Dr. Kenichi Hiura, a former JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) expert.

Go Teacher Go! Contract Renewed

DZUP 1602, the official community radio of the University of the Philippines-Diliman operated by the College of Mass Communication, renewed the terms of agreement with UP NISMED for the airing of Go Teacher Go! for two seasons from August 2012 to July 2013.  The program, now on its 4th season, continues to provide elementary and high school science and mathematics teachers with new ideas, techniques, and innovative teaching and learning strategies including engaging activities and making improvised models that can be used in the classroom.

NISMED science and mathematics educators who serve as resource persons simplify difficult concepts to facilitate comprehension.  Common beliefs and misconceptions in science and mathematics are also addressed.  Faculty from state universities and classroom teachers from public schools as well as individuals from the private sectors also participate as resource persons and share their insights on some teaching and learning topics.

Ma. Lourdes S. Agad, Chair of the Audiovisual Group, and Lolita M. Mondigo take turns in hosting the program.  Both staff are accredited announcers of the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) having passed the KBP Broadcaster’s Accreditation Examination on 27 February 2012 held at the KBP National Office, Makati City.

Season 4 started airing in August 2012 and will end on 31 January 2013 every Thursday from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m,  Refer to the November 2012 to January 2013 program schedule.  Listeners can access the program via live streaming at www.dzup.org or visit http://www.facebook.com/go.teacher.go for episodes that have been aired.

KaSaMa Teachers Online Community Site for Science and Mathematics Educators