Meeting with SA educators: advancing collaboration in physics education

News, 28 February 2024

On 31 January 2024, two days after the signing of an agreement to open a new JINR Information Centre in Cape Town, a meeting convened representatives from the Western Cape Educational Department (WCED) and delegates from the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research and the University of the Western Cape at iThemba LABS. The focal point of discussions was the amplification of educational opportunities available through the Virtual Laboratories project of JINR to be made available to educational institutes of the Western Cape.

The session began with a report titled “Creating an open information and educational environment to support fundamental and applied research at JINR,” presented by Dr Yuri Panebrattsev and Kseniia Klygina. Discussions within the report emphasised the integration of digital educational resources into the teaching curriculum, particularly in advanced physics studies at the school level.

In addition, a round table took place, helmed by Dr Dmitry Kamanin, Dr Rudolph Nchodu, and Dr Gillian Arendse. The parties deliberated on leveraging the JINR Information Centre’s capabilities at iThemba LABS to fortify collaboration in the realm of school education. One of the pivotal outcomes was the proposal to host a specialised school for physics educators and representatives of South African school systems in June 2024 at JINR.

Moreover, an initiative was put forward to develop prototypes of essential digital educational resources, including research laboratory simulations, practical engineering tasks, interactive models, and motivational videos for physics courses. These prototypes will serve as a basis for further dialogue and collaboration in advancing school education.

Representatives from the South African educational structures underlined the importance of broadening the scope of educational materials related to nuclear physics and its applications in life sciences. They advocated for the adaptation of such resources to suit the needs of South African schools, thereby ensuring relevance and efficacy in the local educational context.

A multimedia JINR Exhibition was held in the main hall of iThemba LABS. Participants had an opportunity to get an overview of the main facilities of JINR, use VR technology to examine the corners of the NICA Accelerator Complex, and see the construction of the Neutrino Telescope at Baikal Lake in detail, while also using AR technology to participate in experiments.

The meeting concluded on an optimistic note, with a collective commitment to enhancing collaboration between South African educators and JINR, fostering a dynamic and enriching educational landscape for students in the region.