Maths, science to come alive for more students

SECONDARY school students will be able to make science and mathematics come to life through experiments and projects under a new programme.

For a start, 42 secondary schools now offer the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (Stem) Applied Learning Programme.

By 2017, half of the 124 mainstream secondary schools will offer the programme, which aims to equip students with skills such as reasoning, problem solving and computer programming.

The other half will have applied learning programmes in other areas such as business and enterprise.

The Stem programme is in line with Singapore's push to encourage students and workers to develop specialised skills that are relevant to industries, rather than just academic knowledge.

As part of this effort, polytechnics and the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) will implement recommendations released last week by the Applied Study in Polytechnics and ITE Review (Aspire) committee. These include enhancing internships for polytechnic and ITE students, and opening more opportunities for them to work and further their qualifications after graduating.

On a visit yesterday to Greendale Secondary School, which runs the Stem Applied Learning Programme, Education Minister Heng Swee Keat said that the Aspire recommendations go beyond the polytechnics and ITE.

"At every level of our learning journey, the ability to learn something and then to apply it skilfully is very important. It will help students make connections among ideas they have learnt," he said.

To support schools in the programme, the Ministry of Education (MOE) has set up a partnership with Stem Inc, a unit established this year under the Science Centre Singapore.

The unit will support tie-ups with industry partners so that students will better understand the Stem industries. The curriculum specialists and educators in the 50-member unit will also help schools in developing lessons and resources for the programme. For instance, the educators are deployed to schools to teach and help students with their projects.

At Greendale, Secondary 1 students came up with various electronic devices after attending a weekly lesson on basic programming and engineering, introduced in July.

After reading news reports about cycling accidents, Lim Xuan Yi, 13, and his classmates came up with a way of trying to prevent them. They made a jacket with LED indicator lights on the back that can be activated by switches when cyclists want to turn right or left, or come to a stop.

His group mate, Ivan Jerry Orozeo Del Rosario, 13, hopes to become a game programmer. "It is fun to do something that you are passionate about because you are not really doing work," said Ivan.

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