A research tool for students that does not need Internet connectivity, in an area where Internet connection is intermittent, certainly creates wonders.
On August 14, 2014, Pagalanggang National High School in the municipality of Dinalupihan in Bataan acquired two units of STARBOOKS from the Department of Science and Technology’s Science and Technology Information Institute (DOST-STII).
STARBOOKS stands for Science and Technology Research and Academic-based Openly Operated Kiosks. It is the first digital science library in the Philippines and has a user-friendly interface. Most importantly, using it requires no Internet connection.
Developed by experts from STII, this digital science library contains tons of science and technology (S&T)-related materials in text, audio, and video formats from local and international sources.
“Talagang nagpupunta sila rito, excited sila (They really came here, they were excited),” Leonora R. Santos, acting librarian, related as she recalled the days following the unveiling of the units at the school library. “Hinahanap nila kahit anong topic, basta magamit lang nila (They would search just any topic, just so they can use STARBOOKS),” she added.
Grade 10 Science Teacher Onofre Aquino recalled how his class was able to use it to find computations in energy that they were discussing in class. He also related how his students relied on STARBOOKS to find information that helped them undertake a particular task he assigned, which otherwise could not be found in their textbooks. Aquino also mentioned the usefulness of Britannica Ultimate Encylopedia which is also contained in DOST’s digital science library. “All of these have been really helpful especially considering the fact that in our area, Internet connection is on and off,” he said.
According to Grade 10 student Jun Jun Lopez, he and his classmates use STARBOOKS whenever they join a contest and their reviewers are limited. He recalled doing research on the different branches of mathematics, the pawikan, and malunggay, among others. His research on malunggay in particular, was for an investigatory project.
Students are not the only ones who benefit from STARBOOKS. According to Santos, a former teacher in the school and its current principal, also found information in STARBOOKS which they used for their theses.
“It’s user friendly and easy to manage,” Aquino said. “If a student forgets his or her password, as the Administrator, we can easily retrieve it.”
Math teacher Wilfredo de Guzman agreed with Aquino that STARBOOKS is indeed user friendly. However, de Guzman lamented the lack of resources for Grade 7 students. Santos and Lopez likewise expressed their wish that new materials and data be added to STARBOOKS.
Which is why that very afternoon, Robelyn Cruz and Lloyd Mandapat of STII’s information resources and analysis division, were at the school library to upgrade its two STARBOOKS units.
STII personnel constantly add new materials to STARBOOKS to update its content for users, including children or those in the younger grade levels. When the team went to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in October 2015 for the international Engineering Science Fair where STARBOOKS was exhibited, they observed that the interactive technologies were the ones that captured the attention and interest of the young exhibit goers.
With the upgrade, Pagalanggang National High School is now equipped with two STARBOOKS units containing K-12 supplement materials including an interactive courseware for Grades 1-7, as well as disaster preparedness materials such as the RED Book by DOST’s Project NOAH, a reference guide for emergency and disaster.
RED Book contains information on the various hazards caused by earthquakes such as tsunamis and landslides, signs of an impending tsunami and landslide, hazards caused by volcanic eruptions like lahar and pyroclastic flow, the dangers of tropical cyclones, causes of floods and storm surges, preparedness guidelines before, during and after a calamity or hazard, and flood hazard maps of the Philippines’ 18 major river basins.
The RED Book also features DOST-PHIVOLCS’ “How Safe Is My House” checklist for earthquake safety of concrete hollow block houses in the country, guide questions for media reporters when covering a disaster, and emergency hotline numbers, among others.
Meanwhile, DOST-PAGASA’s series of videos for disaster readiness has also been incorporated into STARBOOKS. The videos, dubbed BLTB or bagyo, tsunami, lindol, at baha, serve as easy instruction guides for the public to prepare themselves for typhoons, earthquakes, tidal waves or tsunamis and floods.
“Yung mga bata po ngayon, ayaw na halos magbasa sa libro. Gusto po nila yung one click lang, okay na sa kanila (Kids nowadays no longer like to read books. What they want is to get information in one click, that’s what they prefer),” Santos said.
Indeed, with its additional content, STARBOOKS promises to become a more comprehensive, interactive, and enjoyable learning and research tool for students around the country, especially in places where there is little or no Internet connection.
STARBOOKS also contains books, magazines, journals, scientific and research papers, livelihood videos, and others. It is a recipient of the 2015 Outstanding Library Program of the Year Award by the Philippine Association of Academic and Research Librarians. STARBOOKS also earned the approval of the international community when the prestigious American Library Association presented it with the American Library Association Presidential Citation for Innovative International Library Projects in June 2015.
Science teacher Onofre Aquino and Leonora R. Santos, acting librarian
Aquino inside the classroom
Aquino and student Jun Jun Lopez sample the upgraded version of STARBOOKS.
Pagalanggang National High School in Dinalupihan, Bataan