Doing our part

In support of the government’s push to create future-ready talents, non-governmental organisations are banding together to promote science and technology-related activities.

Penang Science Cluster (PSC), a not-for-profit organisation that aims to foster and maintain science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) talents, sends “Lab in a Box” kits to schools for students to conduct experiments.

Its chief executive officer Datuk Ooi Peng Ee said under the Lab-on-Wheel programme, a way to promote hands-on learning, equipment, chemicals and consumables are packed in boxes, and collected back to be refilled with science equipment and loaned to the next school.

“Besides the ‘Lab in a Box’ kits, we’ve set up ‘MakerLabs’ in 120 primary and secondary schools with the support of the Penang state government.

“These are makerspaces equipped with learning tools, software and hardware such as Raspberry Pi computers and 3D printers for school students to learn practical skills,” he said, adding that teachers are also trained to teach their students to code and also structure their lesson plans.

PSC, he said, helps schools organise school-level competitions.

Excellent students go on to compete in state and international level competitions such as ‘Coolest Projects Malaysia’, said Ooi.

Meanwhile, Academy of Sciences Malaysia (ASM) has been conducting the National Science Challenge (NSC) for the past 24 years since 1999 to promote STEM in education.

This year, the NSC has drawn the participation of almost 10,000 teams involving around 30,000 students nationwide.

NSC is a national-level competition for Forms One to Four students. This year’s theme for NSC is “Ensuring the Nation’s Food Security through Science, Technology, and Innovation”. It challenges students to think of innovative solutions to address the country’s food security issues.

Through NSC, students can use their creativity to apply what they learn to brainstorm practical solutions.

The finals for this year’s challenge will be held in September.

Its president and founder Prof Datuk Dr Noraini Idris said the National STEM Association is initiating Project STEM Road 60:40 to continue encouraging students towards STEM, so that the government policy for 60% of students to take STEM subjects can be achieved.

Among the initiatives under the project are Projek Mini Theatre for secondary school students – particularly from the B40 communities – to perform skits related to STEM, and Projek Mentor Mentee, which provides a mentorship opportunity between university and school students. — By HO JIA WEN

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