Perimeter Institute’s Educational Outreach team recently visited Singapore as part of the Institute’s efforts to share its award-winning modern physics resources and expertise internationally.

Alice and Bob have gone global.

Alice and Bob are characters in many of Perimeter’s educational resources, who help make technical topics in physics easier to understand. They recently returned to Canada after their first trip abroad – to Singapore.

At the invitation of the Ministry of Education, a Perimeter team comprised of Director of Educational Outreach Greg Dick, Educational Consultant Dave Fish, and Outreach Scientist Dr. Richard Epp delivered a keynote address on science outreach and three days of workshops at Singapore’s National Physics Education Seminar. In all, they trained over 100 teachers in progressive pedagogy and the effective use of Perimeter’s modern physics resources.

“The teachers were really keen,” says Dick. “We had them working collaboratively on whiteboards, we had them debating, we had them presenting – we’re bringing a models-based perspective of science that beautifully complements what they already do well. Everything in our resources fits with what they need.”

Singapore is highly respected in international education circles. In the latest Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (2011), Singapore ranked second in the world in science at the fourth-grade level and first at the eighth-grade level. Nonetheless, the Ministry of Education is focused on developing 21st century skills and a models-based perspective on science, which research shows are crucial to inspiring students’ interest and developing a deeper understanding of scientific concepts.

“The fact that they’re looking to us speaks volumes,” says Dick. “They see us as pedagogical leaders, through the rich and varied classroom learning strategies we offer.”

After witnessing Perimeter’s teaching methods first-hand, Singapore’s Ministry of Education has engaged Perimeter to consult on their current senior physics curriculum review. But it’s not just at the Ministry level that Singapore’s educators are buying into the Perimeter approach: more than 90 percent of the teachers who participated in the Institute’s workshops said they would use Perimeter resources in their future teaching.

“The PI materials bring a fresh dimension to discussing quantum physics with our students,” said Kang Ming Pang, who teaches grades 11 and 12. Joanne Ng described the workshop as “inspiring” and said it equipped her with “new yet practical classroom teaching strategies.”

Canadian teachers have been making similar comments for years. Perimeter has reached two million students across the country to date and expects to reach a million students per year from now on.

“We’re now ready to replicate our systematic approach globally,” says Dick, who sees Singapore as the first of many opportunities to share Perimeter’s resources and expertise internationally. “The real impact is building capacity globally for people to share modern science and to share a strategy to increase understanding of the power and importance of theoretical physics in a city, in a region, in a nation.”

While in Singapore, Perimeter staff identified keen teachers that will form the seeds of the Institute’s international teacher network, patterned after Perimeter’s successful Canadian teacher network. The new network will facilitate peer-to-peer training, enabling teachers around the world to teach modern physics concepts in fresh, accessible ways.

The Institute also recently updated its award-winning resources and launched an international online store to share them with educators around the world, using revenue generated to create new resources addressing other areas of modern physics.

If all goes well, Alice and Bob will be racking up a lot more frequent flyer miles and passport stamps very soon.

About Perimeter Institute

Perimeter Institute is the world’s largest research hub devoted to theoretical physics. The independent Institute was founded in 1999 to foster breakthroughs in the fundamental understanding of our universe, from the smallest particles to the entire cosmos. Research at Perimeter is motivated by the understanding that fundamental science advances human knowledge and catalyzes innovation, and that today’s theoretical physics is tomorrow’s technology. Located in the Region of Waterloo, the not-for-profit Institute is a unique public-private endeavour, including the Governments of Ontario and Canada, that enables cutting-edge research, trains the next generation of scientific pioneers, and shares the power of physics through award-winning educational outreach and public engagement.

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