This is the first report on the evaluation of the Inquiry Based Science and Technology Education Program (IN-STEP), an innovative and ambitious science education initiative being undertaken by a public-private partnership in Thailand. The IN-STEP project is being sponsored by MSD Thailand and supported by funding from its parent company, Merck & Co., Inc., and is being led and implemented by a public-private partnership of organizations committed to improving science education in Thailand. In response to the tsunami disaster in 2004, Merck and MSD Thailand donated US$500,000 to design and implement a science education program in the tsunami-affected province of Phang-nga. Managed by the Kenan Institute Asia, IN-STEP draws heavily on the experience and resources of the Merck Institute for Science Education (MISE), founded by Merck in 1993 to improve student performance in science in the United States. MISE's efforts have shown that the use of well-designed materials and inquiry methods not only raises children's achievement in science, but also their engagement and enthusiasm.
This report has three aims: first, to share the IN-STEP model with a broad audience of science educators and policymakers; second, to provide baseline information on the teachers and schools involved in the project; third, to provide the IN-STEP team with useful feedback from the first year of implementation. These multiple purposes result in a rather lengthy report. We hope that readers will be forgiving and seek out the parts of the report that most interest them. Most of all, we hope they will be enticed to follow the progress of IN-STEP over the next few years and learn from this effort to adapt strategies used successfully in the United States to improve teaching and learning for use in Thailand.