By Olubusuyi Adenipekun
The determination of the Science Teachers Association of Nigeria (STAN) to ensure an effective teaching of Science, Technology and Mathematics (STM) education in Nigerian schools has been brought to national limelight once again by the activities of some science teachers across the country who are coming up with ingenious devices for making the teaching of STM more effective.
These secondary school teachers are no longer leaving the role of research to university teachers alone as they are now competing among themselves to come up with landmark projects that simplify perceived difficult topics in STM subjects.
The major platform for carrying out this academic exercise is the national science quiz and projects competition jointly organised annually by NNPC, .Mobil and STAN.
One of the researchers whose project was considered outstanding is Mr Emmanuel Osuji who teaches mathematics at Madonna Senior Secondary Science School at Ihitte, Imo State. The award winning project which he submitted for the competition is titled: â€œBearing Demonstration Set.â€ The device is used in practical demonstration of probability, a major area in mathematics that is difficult for students.
Osuji came up with the mathematical device as a way of simplifying some concepts in mathematics for secondary school students. He says: â€œBearing Demonstration Set is used in practical demonstration of probability which has been giving students a lot of problems. The project simplifies the concept of Bearing as they feel it and practice it physically.
The advantage is that students taught with the set cannot forget the concept because they have practical feel of it. The device completely removes studentsâ€™ phobia for mathematics.â€
In 2007 when Osuji presented a similar mathematical project for the STAN-organised competition, he came first. And, having made his mark at the national level, he is right now set to make an impact at the international level as the new project, which he is currently working on, titled: â€œTrigonometrical Ratios Demonstration Setâ€ is to be submitted for an international competition. The project also seeks to remove studentsâ€™ fear for mathematics.
He, however, decries poor attitude of government towards teacher – researchers, adding that there is the need for government to render adequate support for teachers before an effective teaching of science and mathematics can be carried out successfully in Nigeria.
Another brilliant project titled, â€œMultipurpose Solar Energy Deviceâ€, has also been completed by Mr. Ahura Simeon who teaches at Special Science Senior Secondary School, Makurdi, Benue State. This device is for water distillation and it uses solar energy.
According to the inventor, the device is useful for other purposes like cooking andÂ drying, adding that it is also useful in carrying out ring and ball experiment to illustrate linear expansitivity of metals.
Simeon has put this device to use in teaching his students which has gone a long way in enriching their understanding of science subjects.
Although his school rendered some financial assistance to him in carrying out the project, Simeon wants adequate financial support from government as a way of motivating secondary school teachers in carrying out research projects that will facilitate an effective teaching of science and mathematical subjects in the country.
Another scienceÂ project has also been nationally recognised as worthwhile by STAN. This project is titled: â€œPurple Garbage Universal Indicatorâ€ and was carried out by one Mrs Rhoda Baskemi who teaches at the Chemistry Department, Federal College of Education, Pankshin, Plateau State.
Apart from organising this projects competition, the bill of which is annuallyÂ footed by NNPC and Mobil joint venture, STAN is also engaged in other activities that are meant to provide the type of STM education that will empower Nigeria to meet the challenges of the 21st century knowledge-based society. It organises workshops, lectures, seminars and conferences for science teachers and it is also working towards the establishment of the STAN place in Abuja, a training/resource centre that will be able to train about 1,500 teachers at a time.
This ultra-modern facility will comprise of an auditorium, four large halls, 20 seminar rooms, nine subject laboratories, including agriculture, biology, chemistry, physics, integrated science, mathematics, primary science, technology, multimedia library, ICT room, exhibition room and other ancillary facilities.
STAN has also spearheaded major science curricula development and renewals in the country and has taken science to the grassroots through the publication of low-cost textbooks in science subjects.
In order to ensure Nigeriaâ€™s global competitiveness through the production of high level human capital, the science body has recommended the need for government to invest in the professional development of STM teachers in order to strengthen their capacity, update their knowledge and skills as well as keep them informed in STM education in general and entrepreneurial studies in particular.
To provide meaningful STM education to Nigerians, it has also stressed the need for government at all levels to make conscious efforts to provide adequate funding for the procurement of the required learning materials in the schools, adding that the nation must also work patently towards the establishment and nurturing of a stable, well-supported science and technology system; the promotion of mission-oriented research in the basic sciences; and the institution of well-articulatedÂ programmes for the education of a large scientifically and technologically literate workforce.