Brewing creative thinking


Some children checking out the prototype of a train during a tour of the Penang Science Cafe Heritage at the Wisma Yeap Chor Ee building in Weld Quay, Penang.

OVER 10,000 students are expected to benefit next year from the initiative by the Penang Science Cluster (PSC) to invite schools to attend free hands-on workshops at the Penang Science Cafe @Heritage.

These students can also build a project and be inspired to start their journey to be an innovator.

“We envision the Penang Science Cafe to be a series of Science-based community centres to promote the learning of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) subjects in a fun and innovative way,” said PSC chief executive officer Ooi Peng Ee.

The Penang Science Cafe is a social collaborative space for building a community of Science and serves as a catalyst to engage, educate, inspire and connect people in the pursuit of innovation.

It is an initiative by the Penang state government and supported by PSC.

Leading the initiative is Keysight Technologies, as the PSC’s ‘Engaging Our Community’ pillar lead.

Ooi said there was an overwhelming response when the prototype Science cafe, Penang Science Cafe @Krystal Point was launched in Bayan Lepas on April 18 last year.

Work on establishing the main centre, that is the Penang Science Cafe @Heritage, commenced soon after, he added.

Located at the ground floor of the iconic Wisma Yeap Chor Ee building in Weld Quay, George Town, the centre comprises over 13,000sq ft of flexible collaboration space and is given rent-free by the state government through Penang Development Corporation.

Besides the interactive workshops for all ages, the Penang Science Cafe @Heritage also functions as a centre for the showcase of innovations by students and makers, engagement programmes with schools to develop STEM learning, a Robotics Competition arena, as well as for visitors to enjoy great coffee and treats at Yin’s Sourdough .

Another highlight of the Penang Science Cafe @Heritage is The Garage, a fully equipped Makerspace with mechanical tools and machines, and electronic instruments and hardware for students, makers and budding entrepreneurs to build and test their prototypes.

Industry leaders such as Keysight Technologies, National Instruments and Intel, together with local tech companies such as CEEDTec and Cytron have also donated a wide-range of products and platforms to The Garage.

Keysight Technologies Malaysia and Singapore president and Keysight Technologies Industrial Solutions Group Datuk Gooi Soon Chai said the Penang Science Cafe concept is all about establishing roots to develop and grow the scientific thinkers, innovators and leaders of tomorrow.

“It is vital that we nurture this new generation of innovators to place Penang at the forefront of Science and remain competitive in the global economy.

“The objective of the Penang Science Cafe is to be a social collaborative space for explorations in Science and innovation. The idea is to have children, parents and grandparents, across the generations, come to learn, network and build their ideas all-year-round.

“There would be classes to take, mentors to consult and workshops where they can create,” he said in his speech during the launching ceremony of the Penang Science Cafe @Heritage on Saturday.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, who launched the centre, said the Penang Science Café @Heritage is the culmination of a two-year journey of intense collaboration between the state, industry and the community.

PSC was initiated by the state government and is an industry-led non-profit organisation designed to spark public interest and involvement in Science and Technology.

When contacted, Penang National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) chairman Ng Weng Tut said the union welcomed and supported all initiatives that benefited students.

“If it is for the benefit of students, the union is all out for it because we are moving towards globalisation. This is a very proactive kind of move.

“However, the state government must also collaborate with the Federal Government through the Ministry of Education for future educational projects,” he added.

Meanwhile, Batu Maung assemblyman Datuk Abdul Malik Abul Kassim said he is considering the setting up of a Penang Science Cafe in his constituency.

He said he will propose the idea to the state and the PSC.

“I am hoping to get the proposal approved by the state by next year,” he said when met during a school aid presentation ceremony in Taman Iping, Batu Maung, yesterday.

Abdul Malik, who is also state Religious Affairs, Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Committee chairman, said the setting up of the cafe would benefit students from some 10 schools in his constituency.

Earlier, Abdul Malik presented schoolbags and vouchers to 553 students in his constituency, in conjunction with the start of the new school-term next year.

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