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East Asian Students Converge in Taiwan for Earth Science Festival

From May 16th to May 19th, young science enthusiasts from Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan gathered at the National Museum of Marine Biology & Aquarium for an exciting Earth Science Festival. Co-sponsored by leading academic and scientific organizations, the event promoted international collaboration and deepened students’ understanding of our planet’s intricate systems.

This year’s festival attracted ten high school students from Japan, nine from South Korea, and ten from Taiwan. It featured two days of individual and group competitions in subjects such as astronomy, atmosphere, oceanography, geology, geophysics, and field practice. These competitions aimed to enhance students' interest in earth science and promote international communication in the field.

Professor Meng-Wan Yeh from the NTNU Department of Earth Sciences emphasized the importance of the event in fostering an understanding of the interconnectedness of earth sciences, the human environment, and quality of life. This year’s festival followed the successful inaugural Asian Youth Earth Science Festival held in Fukuoka, Japan, last year.

Over four days, students participated in written tests, practical tests, and fieldwork, enhancing their appreciation of the earth's complexities. A highlight was the involvement of students from the Mathematics and Physics Gifted Class of National Pingtung Girls' Senior High School. These students participated in an international team activity, analyzing water samples from intertidal zones of coral reefs and shallow water cold springs to understand the environmental implications of water chemistry.

One engaging task involved creating a DIY earthquake alert system, "Sacred Palace of the Earthly Buffalo," which integrates Taiwanese cultural elements. This hands-on activity allowed students to explore the physical principles behind earthquake alarms and take their creations home, blending education with fun.

The event also featured an international symposium, "Exploring Earth Through Education: Advancing Earth Sciences Education in High School." Educators from Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea shared best practices and innovative teaching methods. Discussions included curriculum changes in response to SDGs at Chosun University, and climate change, the use of earth science courses at Kobe Jagakuin (Women's) High School, and the role of the National Museum of Marine Biology & Aquarium in science education.

Amid challenges such as the reduction of earth science hours in high school curricula, educators discussed the current status and dilemmas of earth science education. Encouragingly, Japan's earth science courses designed for female students are showing promising results. South Korea's curriculum focuses on natural disaster response and integrates cross-disciplinary thinking to engage students in climate change action. In Taiwan, diverse competitions and activities, including science camps and hackathons, enrich students' experiences and confidence in earth sciences.

The awards ceremony marked a fitting conclusion to the event, featuring a recorded performance by the Taipei Municipal Xisong Elementary School choir. Their song, with themes of aspiration and discovery, encapsulated the spirit of the festival: encouraging students to explore, observe, and think critically about the earth.

This year’s festival highlighted the courage and camaraderie of students from Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea as they engaged in English presentations and collaborative activities. Looking ahead, South Korea will host next year's festival, aiming to inspire even more students to delve into earth sciences.

The NTNU Department of Earth Sciences remains dedicated to nurturing cross-disciplinary talents, while the IESO Training and Evaluation Committee continues to promote earth science education. The National Museum of Marine Biology & Aquarium provides invaluable marine knowledge and research resources. Together, these organizations are advancing earth science education and fostering international collaboration.