Ateneo physics faculty members Joel Maquiling and Ivan Culaba are part of UNESCO’s Active Learning in Optics and Photonics project which won a SPIE award

From Ateneo de Manila University website:

The UNESCO program Active Learning in Optics and Photonics (ALOP) — delivered by an international team of physics educators that includes faculty members of the Physics Department — has received an award from SPIE, the international society advancing light-based research, honoring its work in promoting optics education around the world.

ALOP has been training trainers around the world to increase understanding of science through optics and photonics since 2005. Project leader Dr. Minella Alarcon is a former faculty member of the Ateneo de Manila University’s Physics Department.

Other members of the ALOP International Facilitator Team are Joel Maquiling and Ivan Culaba, also of the Physics Department, Ateneo de Manil University (Philippines), Alex Mazzolini of Swinburne University of Technology (Australia), Zohra Ben Lakhdar of Université El Manar, Tunis (Tunisia), David Sokoloff of the University of Oregon (USA) and Vengu Lakshminaryanan of the University of Waterloo (Canada). The team developed the learning modules and hands-on activities, and assisted with the design and fabrication of workshop materials.

The award was presented by SPIE President Ralph James (Brookhaven National Lab) during the Optics Education and Outreach conference on August 1, 2010 in San Diego, California.

ALOP receives financial support from UNESCO, SPIE, and ICTP (the Abdus Salam International Center for Theoretical Physics) and has held 13 workshops and trained more than 400 teachers. Program participants are encouraged to follow up with additional local trainings.

Alarcon noted that ALOP has been particularly successful in Morocco, where local follow-up ALOP trainings have been held for more than 1,000 teachers. She went on to say that the need for these training programs is great. An estimated additional 1.9 million more teachers will be needed around the world by 2015, according to a 2007 report by the UN Institute of Statistics.

Related Articles:

SPIE (1 Aug 2010)

Well done, ALOP!

Minella Alarcon, project leader for the UNESCO program ALOP (Active Learning in Optics and Photonics), was surprised Sunday morning with an award honoring her work and her organization’s success in promoting science education. ALOP has been training trainers around the world to increase understanding of science through optics and photonics since 2005.

The award was presented by SPIE President Ralph James (Brookhaven National Lab)Ralph James, Minella Alarcon, Kathleen Robinson just before Alarcon’s talk in the conference on Optics Education and Outreach, chaired by Groot Gregory (Optical Research Associates).

ALOP is supported financially by UNESCO, SPIE, and ICTP (the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics), and has held 13 workshops and trained more than 400 teachers to date. Participants in the program are encouraged to follow up with additional local trainings. Alarcon noted that has been particularly successful in in Morocco, where local follow-up ALOP trainings have been held for more than 1,000 teachers.

The need is great, Alarcon said. A 2007 report by the UN Institute of Statistics estimated that an additional 1.9 million more teachers would be needed around the world by 2015.

SPIE (18 June 2008)

Active Learning project promotes science education around the world

SPIE is among ALOP sponsors

BELLINGHAM, WA, USA – 18 June 2008 – Workshops for educators promoting an innovative method of teaching physics that uses optics and photonics as an experimental topic will be held in Zambia in September and Cameroon in December, organizers have announced. Proposals for 2009 have been received from Peru and Nepal, according to program specialist Minella Alarcon of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization).

The workshops are organized within the framework of the project Active Learning in Optics and Photonics (ALOP) sponsored by UNESCO, SPIE, ICTP (Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics), the National Academies of the USA, and Essilor. SPIE has contributed $20,000 annually since 2005 in support of the project.

ALOP workshops offer post-secondary physics teachers the opportunity to improve their conceptual understanding of optics, and foster the use of laboratory work and hands-on activities in the classroom. Activities involve simple, inexpensive materials that, whenever possible, can bParticipants in the ALOP workshop in San Luis Potosí, Mexico, work through a lesson.e fabricated locally. An accompanying training manual includes an assessment instrument to measure student learning of optics concepts. Optics is used as subject matter because it is relevant as well as adaptable to research and educational conditions in many developing countries.

“Physics education research has demonstrated that students in traditional physics courses do not master concepts,” said David Sokoloff, professor of physics at the University of Oregon. Sokoloff is a member of the ALOP international facilitator team as well as editor of the ALOP Training Manual. “Participation in ALOP introduces educators to a new, active learning approach to learning optics concepts. The evidence from research is that students who learn using this approach demonstrate a much better grasp of the concepts than with traditional approaches.”

Other members of the facilitator team are Joel Maquiling and Ivan Culaba of Ateneo de Manila University (Philippines), Alex Mazzolini of Swinburne University of Technology (Australia), Zohra Ben Lakhdar of Université El Manar, Tunis (Tunisia), and Vengu Lakshminaryanan of University of Waterloo (Canada). The team helped develop the learning modules and hands-on activities, and assisted with purchase of components and fabrication of some materials.

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Here are some pictures of Joel Maquiling and Mr. Culaba in ALOP Tunisia:

Mr. Joel Maquiling (2nd from the left) and Mr. Ivan Culaba (4th from the left) with other facilitators for ALOP Tunisia

Mr. Ivan Culaba (center) is holding a glass of beer for demonstration of light scattering in ALOP Tunisia

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