Inspired by a universal call-to-action from the InterAcademy Partnership (IAP) within the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the Smithsonian Science Education Center (SSEC), in conjunction with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) and other organizations, is bringing together a global team to design inclusive and equitable research-based science education.
Working together, the team has developed a first educational curriculum module: Mosquito!, freely available to the public in English and Spanish. This module effectively promotes excellence within science education while fostering pioneering approaches to empower and unite educators around the world.
According to Krishan Lal, co-chair of IAP for Science: “We are confident that the benefits generated by educational materials such as these will reach many children around the world, who live and learn under different circumstances.”
The first module addresses the problem of diseases transmitted by mosquitos from an educational point of view. It is aimed at children between eight and 18 years of age and their teachers.
Thanks to support from Panama’s National Secretariat of Science, Technology and Innovation (SENACYT) and Panama’s Ministry of Education (MEDUCA), as well as financial support from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and Johnson & Johnson, STRI and the SSEC brought together a group of change agents and more than fifty teachers to try out the content of the module, interacting with world-class scientists using innovative teaching methods.
The objective was to support Panamanian teachers as they explored 45 areas of the curriculum that makes up the Mosquito! module and to provide free resources for use in classrooms and in a community context.
“At the heart of our work is the idea that all young people, regardless of their gender, geography and socioeconomic status, should understand the problems that challenge us, and that we should all play a more active role in stimulating interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) through educational experiences that increase scientific understanding around the world,” said Dr. Carol O’Donnell, Director of the Smithsonian Science Education Center and member of IAP SEP-Global Council.
In the future, educational experiences such as this one seek to empower communities around the world to work proactively thus making these communities healthier and more sustainable places to live. Only by creating educational experiences where young people work together around a problem to develop solutions for their local community, can we begin to weave together the sustainability goals.