SCISOC

The Science Society of Thailand 

under the Patronage of His Majesty The King

Background

 The Science Society of Thailand evolved from the Science Club at the Faculty of Science, Chulalongkorn University, which was the first faculty of science in Thailand. The society was legally registered as the Science Society of Siam on January 27, 1948 (but later “Siam” was changed to ‘Thailand” in accordance with the new name of the country). Three years later, the society received the honor of the Royal Patronage of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

 Presently, the Science Society of Thailand has about 5,000 members, the majority of whom are permanent individual members, while a few are member organizations. The society operates through its 12 branches: namely, Northern Thailand, Northeastern Thailand, Southern Thailand, Biochemistry, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics and Computer Education, Science Teachers, Science Communication, Science Clubs for Schools and Science Writers and Publishers Club.

 As the first science society in Thailand, it has played a leading role in the development of science and technology in the country under the leadership of its 15 Presidents. The Science Society of Thailand has a broad range of activities, which may be grouped under the following a) promoting research and excellence; b) improving science education through teachers’ training and student activities; c) promoting public awareness of science; d) scientific publication and science communication.

 Promotion of Research and Excellence in Science and Technology

 The Science Society of Thailand organized its first science conference on December 7-11, 1949, including a science exhibition. Presently, the Annual Conference has expanded to cover some 2,000 participants and some 500-900 research paper presentations in some 14 fields. This event has now become an established platform for scientists and technologists of different ages in all fields. Each year, scientific progress and emerging science topics are presented by invited speakers, highlighted by a lecture by a Nobel Laureates. The meeting has also received good attention and support from national leaders in Thailand, and has stimulated both the quantity and the quality of research in Thailand. It has also provided opportunities for many scientists and scientific organizations to expand the scope of their activities and to cooperate with one another.

 The idea of rewarding outstanding scientists was initiated in 1981 in the General Assembly of the Science Society of Thailand. It was crystallized in 1982 in which the first Outstanding Scientist was honored on the first National Science Day, receiving the plaque of honor from H.M. the King’s representative. This award has been considered as the “Nobel Prize” of Thailand, the most prestigious science award in Thailand. This very exciting event led to a discussion on how to focus and sustain this activity. Therefore, the Foundation for the Promotion of Science and Technology under the Patronage of His Majesty the King was established, to take charge of this award, as well as many more awards later on. Presently, the Foundation presents awards for Outstanding Scientists, Young Scientists (age lower than 35), Outstanding Technologists and Young Technologists.

 Each year the Science Society of Thailand itself also provides for the awards for senior scientists, outstanding science teachers (through its Science Teachers branch), outstanding science writers (through its Science Writers and Publishers Club) and outstanding science media (also through its Science Writers and Publishers Club).

 Improving Public Awareness of Science

 On April 14, 1982, the Thai government approved the proposal of the Science Society of Thailand to honor H.M. King Rama IV as the Father of Science in Thailand and recognizing the 18th of August of every year as the National Science Day. This is an important basis for the promotion of public awareness in science.    Each year the government, through the Ministry of Science and Technology, hosts nation-wide events to promote science and technology during the National Science Week and to commemorate King Rama IV, who on August 18, 1868, accurately calculated the occurrence of a full solar eclipse at Wagor District, Prachuabkirikhan Province. Schools and universities join hands to celebrate the occasion by organizing many scientific activities for the public, especially for youths and children.

 The Science Society of Thailand has also played an important role in promoting awareness of science through the establishment of museums. The first science museum was established in 1953 at Chulalongkorn University. In 1987, the Science Society of Thailand submitted to the government a proposal to build a national museum, the so-called National Science Park at Wagor, at the actual site where H.M. King Rama IV proved his calculation of the solar eclipse, and the proposal was approved. Now, the site is a big science center for education under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education. In addition, when the National Science Museum was founded to be the biggest public science museum in Thailand under the Ministry of Science and Technology, the President of the Science Society of Thailand is an ex-officio member of the board.

 Improving Science and Mathematics Education

 Since 1982, the Science Society of Thailand has organized annual nation-wide activities for youths and children, during the National Science Week on the occasion of the National Science Day, the 18th of August. The activities include competitions and contests of various kinds, the highlight of which is the science project and innovation competitions at all levels, from primary education to higher education, including technical/vocational education. The winners in many competitions receive plaques from H.M. the King or H.R.H. Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, and some also have the opportunity to compete and win prizes at the international level, such as at the Intel Science and Education Fair.

 Science camps and junior scientist clubs (e.g. junior entomologists, junior ornithologists, etc.) are also major activities of the society in nurturing young talented students through scientific enrichment, leadership and innovation development. Nowadays, the concepts of science camp and science club are well accepted in schools, and this has become a regular school mechanism to nurture young scientists in Thailand.

 Recently, H.R.H. Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn commanded the Science Society of Thailand to arrange the Thai Science Camp, following the concept of the Asian Science Camp, but with the purpose of expanding the opportunity to interact with leading Thai scientists to as many schools as possible. Thus, instead selecting students solely based on academic excellence, which results in selection of students from a few top schools, often in Bangkok, selection is based on finding students from many schools throughout the country.

 The Science Society of Thailand works closely with the Council of Deans of Science of Thailand, which consists of the deans from 24 public universities in Thailand, in the professional development of science teachers. The society developed 3 consecutive intensive courses for each of the five basic fields; biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics and earth science for secondary school teachers. Over the years, the society has trained about 10,000 teachers all over the country. The Science Teachers branch has also enhanced the teaching capability of lower secondary and primary school teachers.

 Scientific Publication and Science Communication

The Science Society of Thailand publishes two journals. One, ScienceAsia, initiated in 1975 as the Journal of the Science Society of Thailand, is a quarterly English-language research journal containing refereed scientific research papers. It is recognized as being of international quality, and is listed in international databases, such as ISI-WOS and Scopus. The other journal, Science Journal (Worasan Wittayasart in Thai) is a bi-monthly Thai-language magazine started in 1946, aims towards a broader readership, especially members, students and teachers.

 Apart from these publications, the Science Society of Thailand has also published basic college science textbooks, manuals and books for science teachers, as well as other publications, either by its central committee or by its Science Writers and Publishers Club.

 International Cooperation

 The Science Society of Thailand is a member of The Association of Academies and Societies of Sciences in Asia (AASSA), resulting from the merger of the Federation of Asian Science Academies and Societies (FASAS) and the Association of Academies and Societies in Asia (AASA) in 2012. The Science Society of Thailand is also a member of the Science Council of Asia (SCA). In addition, the society organizes many international conferences and meetings regularly either by its central committee or through its branches.

 Conclusion

The strength of science and technology lies in the strength of science and technology societies and academies within the country. The Science Society of Thailand, as the oldest science society of the country, has assumed major responsibility to promote science and technology for more than 6 decades. Many successes have been achieved, but much more development work lies ahead.

 References

Science Society of Thailand (1998) 50 Years of the Science Society of Thailand Under the Patronage of H.M. the King, Dan-Uttra Printing, Bangkok.

Sumonta Promboon (2007) The Science Society of Thailand and Its Role in Science and Technology Development in Thailand. ScienceAsia 33, Suppl. 1, 1-3.

 

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