Activity Report

Activity Report of Open Application Course vol.3

Fruitful research exchange with young students from the Philippines and India

Report from Kanazawa University

The Earth Science Course (scheduled to change into the Earth and Planetary Science Course at the School of Earth and Social Infrastructure from next academic year) at the School of Natural System, Kanazawa Univ. is conducting comprehensive research for understanding mechanisms for oceanic plates, from formation to disappearance.

Recently, two Filipino students from University of the Philippines and three Indian students from University of Calcutta came to Japan as part of the SAKURA Exchange Program in Science. One faculty member from India also participated in the program. They arrived in Japan on October 2 and departed on October 22.

We are pleased to report that one Filipino student who visited Kanazawa Univ. last academic year as part of the SAKURA Science enrolled at our university in October as a doctoral student. Although only arriving in Japan a few days earlier and still preparing for the doctoral program, the student participated in the program and provided guidance to younger students.

Creating many opportunities for discussion
One particular goal of the recent program was to create many opportunities for discussion among students, and among students and faculty. Therefore, we started with an introduction of research conducted by students at Kanazawa Univ. and a brief introduction of research by students in the SAKURA Science. Afterwards, Sakura students had sufficient time to give detailed explanations of their research in a seminar format.

photo4 Photograph taken before a seminar. Although the students appear confident, everyone was quite nervous at first. Students who were asked to start their presentations over where very disappointed, but overcoming such setbacks is important. The expressions of students in the photo show how much they enjoyed the program.

During discussion, faculty members responded strictly when the discussion lacked sufficient basis, or when discussion was being conducted using only the "appearance" of an academic paper. Students were asked to start the seminar again from the beginning. One Indian student gave a total of three seminar presentations. We are sure that students gave repeated thought to their presentations during their stay in Japan.

photo5 Q&A session during a seminar. Difficult questions were asked by Professor Susumu Umino, a leading research on oceanic plates.

Valuing a hands-on approach
Samani Town in Hokkaido Prefecture features large amounts of exposed rock that is similar to the rock composing the deep regions of oceanic plates. Therefore, students spend three days and two nights in the area. The rock was in good condition, and students weren't used to observing the diversity of deep earth materials which haven't deteriorated on the Earth's surface. Upon seeing the exposed outcrops and the superb samples prepared by the town in a rock park, students became engrossed in discussion and explanations.

photo1 A famous striped outcrop of Horoman peridotite rock. We had students think about the model which formed these strips. Sakura students expressed many different opinions. In contrast, Japanese students remained mostly silent. Creating an environment in which Japanese students can express their opinions is an important future issue.
photo3 Students conducted a survey of Horoman peridotite rock in Samani Town, Hokkaido Prefecture. The rock material exposed in this area closely resembles material in deep areas of oceanic plates. Also participating in the survey where students from the laboratory of Professor Michibayashi at Shizuoka University. It was a meaningful survey from the perspectives of both petrology and structural geology.
photo6 Preparing a meal during a break from the survey. Everyone seems to be working hard. Some students look like they are worried about how the food will turn out, while others look quite confident!

A variety of ideas were raised by the students. Sakura students are proactive and state their opinion without worrying about if they are correct or incorrect. In contrast, Japanese students are reserved. We felt that these personality traits are greatly influenced by educational methods from childhood.

We were blessed with outstanding weather. According to schedule, we were able to observe rock at an important location while engaging in extensive discussion.

In addition to holding discussion, we also conducted advanced chemical analysis by using analytical equipment held by Kanazawa Univ. for research by Sakura students. We held presentations to explain this data and clarified future themes.

photo7 Analysis of research samples by using local trace element analyzers operated at a high level in our laboratory. We discovered that a sample brought in by a Filipino student has quite rare characteristics. We look forward to future developments in joint research.

Cooperation and exchange with Japanese students
Japanese students and Sakura students cooperated to prepare meals during the survey period. While planning a menu to feed a large number of people, students went shopping and made meals together. Through the unique food culture of their respective countries, students were able to relax and engage in friendly conversation.

During their stay in Japan, Sakura students also participated in volunteer activities (cleanup activities), student experiments, and the birthday party of a Japanese student.

photo8 Sakura students also actively participated in cleanup activities on campus. They were in charge of a corner of the university courtyard.
photo9 Sakura students also participated in a student experiment (basics of observation using optical microscopes). Together with Japanese students, Sakura students fidgeted with their bodies, hands, and heads as the struggled to use the unfamiliar equipment. Of course, students from Kanazawa Univ. also had difficulty in explaining the details of the experiment.
photo10 At the birthday party of Nishio, a young man who represented our laboratory and worked hard during the program. He received a delicious-looking cake and everyone sang Happy Birthday.

Participation in the creation of rock samples by primary school students
During their stay in Japan, students helped primary school students create rock samples. Together, Sakura students and Japanese university students took children to the rock site and assisted them in preparing samples. Prior to the activity, we explained to the children that their generation would have more opportunities to work together with foreigners like the Sakura students who had come to Japan. We encouraged the children to engage in active communication.

photo2 Students served as instructors to help primary school students and their parents create rock samples. The event was held at Tedori River, one of the main rivers in Ishikawa Prefecture. The event was a huge success, thanks to a surprising amount of active discussion from the children and their parents!

The children and their parents actively talked with Sakura students. It was a relaxing and meaningful experience for everyone involved, including Sakura students and Japanese students. In particular, the Indian faculty member was extremely interested at viewing a portion of outreach activities in Japan.

During their three-week stay in Japan, some of the students developed detailed aspirations for their future joint research. On the other hand, some students were frustrated at not being able to identify a research theme. We believe that experiencing such frustration is also important. We look forward to seeing how the SAKURA Science will contribute to exchange between foreign students and Japanese students, and to exchange in personal research activities.