Archive for the ‘Teaching of Science and Mathematics’ Category

Rural, small schools make an impact

Sunday, June 23rd, 2019
The winners from the Frog World Championship.

The winners from the Frog World Championship.

RURAL and small schools have once again proved their mettle in the Frog World Championship.

SJKC Choong Cheng has emerged as a role model to Chinese schools in Kedah, especially schools under the purview of the Kuala Muda Yan district education office, with its third victory in a row.

Having observed evident improvements in pupil behaviour, the teachers from this school are not only dedicating themselves to providing them with a 21st century learning experience through Frog, but have also stepped up in advocating the use of technology in education to the community so that more teachers and pupils have equal opportunities and exposure, and are not left behind.

At SJKC Choong Cheng, pupils have become more motivated and excited to learn through Frog, and with group projects also conducted on Frog, they have also gained confidence in the classroom and are now able to present on group projects with confidence. Noting this, the teachers hope to spread similar benefits to their peers in other schools.

On the academic front, since implementing Frog in teaching and learning, more and more pupils are achieving straight As each year. The pupils’ results have improved after the school adopted FrogPlay for independent learning and revision.

In third place is SK Sungai Baru in Perlis, a rural school that only started actively using Frog in 2018, but has come a long way in this short duration through the sheer commitment of its leadership. Being a rural school, the teachers and pupils faced difficulty in accessing the Internet and devices at home.

The school believed in the potential of Frog in enabling its pupils to compete on a level playing field with urban schools, so they went the extra mile to enable the use of the Internet for education. As a result, the school saw pupil attendance and participation increase. The pupils achieved overall academic improvement in Maths, Science, English and Bahasa Malaysia. Its pupils have also bagged the state prize in the Frog Championship 2018.

FrogAsia Sdn Bhd executive director Yeoh Pei Lou said the Frog World Championship is one of the efforts at FrogAsia to encourage more teachers and pupils to embrace and benefit from 21st century learning.

“We have witnessed tremendous improvement in pupils participating in the competition since it was launched in 2017, not just in terms of the competition results, but more importantly, in terms of overall learning outcomes due to the competition format.

“Schools from the rural areas, which were once eclipsed by urban schools are now emerging as world champions.

“This goes to show that the Frog World Championship has remarkable ability and promise in elevating education outcomes – not only in Malaysia but globally,” she said.

A total of USD10,000 (RM42,300) is on offer to the winners of the Frog World Championship. To win, teachers and students will need to do their part to achieve Leaderboard points for their schools. For teachers, they need to access, create and publish quizzes on Frog VLE while students need to use FrogPlay and Boost to gain Leaderboard points.

Among the global schools, the Westminster Church of England Primary Academy in the United Kingdom was one that achieved a notable outcome. The school – mostly comprised students who are immigrants or asylum seekers who use English as a second language, started using Frog in October 2018 but most of them did not have access to devices at home.

To encourage learning, the teachers initiated the breakfast club where students could come in early to school to use the devices and log in to Frog in school. Through the use of Frog, students started improving their command of English. One particular student who was classified as a failing student improved through consistent and competitive use of Frog, and emerged as one of the world winners in the student category this year!

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NST Leader: Power of the moon

Tuesday, June 4th, 2019
A personnel from the Federal Territories mufti office conducts the sighting of the Syawal new moon to determine Aidilfitri at the Kuala Lumpur Tower. -NSTP/NURUL SYAZANA ROSE RAZMAN.

Malaysians are strange. When it comes to the supermoon or blue moon, we give it a slew of attention.

Not so for the new moon, or hilal as the Muslims name it. Perhaps because the hilal is not exactly visible to the naked eye. Or perhaps the former two are “once-in-a-whilers”.

A supermoon — when a new moon is closest to the Earth — occurs some three or four times out of the 12 or 13 times the crescent reveals itself. This year saw three supermoons — on Jan 20, Feb 19 and March 21. The New Straits Times frontpaged the Feb 19 supermoon. The blue moon, on the other hand, adorns the sky once every 2.7 years. Rarer still is a double blue moon. It happens between three and five times in a century.

Moon watchers assign many names as the orb of light circles the Earth: new moon or crescent, waxing crescent, first quarter, waxing gibbous, full moon, waning gibbous, third quarter, waning crescent and dark moon. The names reflect the phases of the moon’s journey.

If you wonder why the lit side of the new moon isn’t visible at all, it is because it is positioned between the Earth and the Sun.

If you think this paper is waxing lyrical about the many moons, it is. There is a good reason for this: we think what is up there in the sky should fascinate us.

Because, like us, the constellations are part of creation. Anyone who has looked at the night sky far from the city lights would surely come away humbled. And in awe.

There is also a selfish reason for us to keep our gaze skywards. There are thousands of asteroids and other near-Earth objects, or NEOs, hurtling towards us. It pays to know when they will come our way.

There is a more important reason for getting cozy with the constellations. As Bruce Dorminey, the author of Distant Wanderers, puts it, the tiny points of light in the sky are portals through which we might find answers to some of life’s toughest questions.

Two of them are: where we came from and where we are headed to. Serious questions, and seriously we must consider them. If Aristotle is right — that all men by nature have a desire to know — then not many of us are looking up at the sky enough.

We are glad 29 committees of the Falak Syari’, or Islamic astronomy, throughout the country did just that yesterday to determine when Aidilfitri, or Eid al-Fitr, should be celebrated.

A set number of representatives travel to specific locations at maghrib to perform the sighting. If the sighting is not successful, astronomic calculations, or hisab, will follow. They have been doing this for a long time now. The basis for such a determination is to be found in the Quran and Sunnah (sayings and teachings of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)). The first Eid al-Fitr was celebrated thus by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Today, three methods prevail in Muslim countries: rukyahhisab or the rukyah and hisab, as practised in Malaysia. Such is the power of the moon in a Muslim’s life.

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Sunnah, science to determine months

Tuesday, June 4th, 2019
Federal Territories Mufti Datuk Seri Dr Zulkifli Mohamad al-Bakri using a telescope to sight the new moon in KL Tower yesterday. PIC BY ZULFADHLI ZULKIFLI
By Nur Aqidah Azizi - June 4, 2019 @ 7:35am

SEREMBAN: Hari Raya Aidilfitri, which will be celebrated tomorrow, marks the end of Ramadan, when Muslims fast daily between dawn and sunset. The festival, too, heralds the beginning of Syawal in the Islamic calendar.

Unlike the Gregorian calendar, the start of a new month in the Islamic calendar is determined by the lunar cycle, which is 29 or 30 days, coinciding with the birth of a new moon.

However, determining this occurrence is not straightforward. One debate is whether to take a traditionalist or modernist approach.

Many ulama believe a new month begins when the crescent-shaped new moon can be seen by the naked eye.

On the night when the new moon is expected, Falaq Syarie (Islamic astronomy) committees will observe the hilal (the crescent moon), but the reliance on eye sighting means that even a cloudy night may extend Ramadan or delay Hari Raya Aidilfitri by a day.

According to Malaysia Falaq Syarie Association deputy president Dr Kassim Bahali, the country adopts the rukyah and hisab in determining the beginning and ending of Ramadan, as well as the beginning of Syawal, known as imkannur rukyah (possibility of sighting).

In the rukyah, the sighting of the new moon is observed with the eye after sunset. If the moon can be seen, it is considered the beginning of a new month.

Hisab is the use of astronomical calculations to determine the arrival of the new moon.

Federal Territories Religious Department personnel preparing to sight the new moon from KL Tower yesterday. PIC BY NURUL SYAZANA ROSE RAZMAN

Kassim said both methods, which combine the sunnah (exemplary customs and conducts of Prophet Muhammad) and scientific calculations, were implemented since 1992.

“On every 29th of Ramadan, a committee appointed by the Conference of Rulers will observe the hilal as soon as the sun sets. According to the Islamic calendar, a new day begins after Maghrib, when the sun goes down.

“To determine the dates for Ramadan and Syawal, the committee will observe the crescent moon, either through the naked eye or supported by equipment, such as a telescope and theodolite. This process is conducted in 29 locations in the country.”

He said Syawal would fall the next day if the appearance of the new moon on the 29th of Ramadan was apparent.

However, Kassim said, the rukyah, even with the help of equipment, might sometimes be affected by weather.

“Cloudy nights, rain, fog and haze can prevent the sighting of hilal. If this happens, then the hisabwill be applied.”

Kassim said hisab could determine the beginning of all 12 Islamic months, including Ramadan and Syawal, based on the calculated positions of the moon and sun.

“When using hisab, there are two conditions that must be met. First, the age of the thin crescent moon must be a minimum of eight hours at the time it sets, or the moon at sunset is above the horizon at an altitude greater than two degrees, and the curving distance between the moon and sun is more than three degrees.

“If these two conditions are fulfilled, then the new month will begin and, in the case of Syawal, Hari Raya Aidilfitri will be celebrated the next day.”

However, in the event where rukyah and hisab fail to give a clear result, then Muslims in this country are obliged to fast until the 30th of Ramadan.

With the increasingly sophisticated technology available, many countries have adopted them in favour of rukyah, which is said to have many weaknesses.

Recently, Pakistan announced its Aildilfitri dates for the next five years with the establishment of its moon-sighting centre.

Kassim, however, said technology would not be totally relied on in determining the dates of Ramadan and Syawal.

He said rukyah is a sunnah, which the Prophet had told Muslims to undertake.

“Despite technology, rukyah is still a priority because this was what Prophet Muhammad used. There are methods that we still refer to in al-Quran and sunnah,” he said.

“Sighting with the naked eye under r ukyah is a manifestation of our devotion in Islam. Observing nature is also one of the fields in science that can’t be ignored.”

Commenting on some nations that relied on technology, Kassim said the matter depended on the country’s fatwa council.

“There are countries that rely solely on rukyah and there are those that choose to use hisab. This decision is up to their fatwa council.”

He said Malaysia also had its fair share of inaccuracies in determining Ramadan and Syawal.

“We used to rely on rukyah solely in the past. When confusion arose, the fatwa council began incorporating hisab in 1992, which is used until today.

By Nur Aqidah Azizi .

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Creating an interest in STEM

Monday, May 20th, 2019
Students learning how to operate drones at the event.

Students learning how to operate drones at the event.

HOMEGROWN education service provider and social enterprise, LeapEd Services Sdn Bhd recently held the STEM Festival 2019 in partnership with Heriot-Watt University Malaysia, GREAT UK Challenge Fund and Youth Made Malaysia.

The STEM Festival 2019 emphasises the importance of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics-related subjects and experiences among Malaysian students.

Forty students from four secondary schools within LeapEd’s Trust Schools Programme participated in the event namely SMK Cyberjaya, SMK Pulau Indah, SMK Bandar Sunway and SMK Salak Tinggi.

Held at the Heriot-Watt University Malaysia campus in Putrajaya, the festival included a series of workshops and theory-focused sessions for students, culminating in an exciting drone flying challenge.

Throughout the day, students had hands-on experience in designing and building pre-engineered micro drones, mentored by students and lecturers from the university, as well as representatives from Youth Made Malaysia and LeapEd Services.

LeapEd Services managing director Zulhaimi Othman said: “In line with our commitment to develop holistic students with 21st century competencies, we see a gap that requires immediate attention in the education landscape today.”

Students today do not realise the full potential of STEM and how its application can prepare them for their future careers, he added.

“This STEM Festival is one of our many efforts in helping to raise the awareness among students on the importance of STEM-related skills and knowledge,” he said.

University provost and CEO Prof Mushtak Al-Atabi said since 2016, Heriot-Watt University has organised annual STEM Festivals for school children to further emphasise the importance of innovation and STEM-related subjects.

“As the first Mechanics Institute in the world when it was established in 1821, Heriot-Watt has had a long history in producing STEM practitioners and graduates since the first industrial revolution.

“Now as we are faced with the fourth industrial revolution, we are keen in supporting the promotion of STEM among the youth to lead the way in a challenging work landscape in the future,” he said.

According to a recent “School-to-Work Transition Survey” by Khazanah Research Institute, only one third of all upper secondary school students are taking Science subjects followed by 44% for Mathematics, while only 32% tertiary students are enrolled in STEM-related courses.

Zulhaimi said that most students do not realise that career opportunities are constantly evolving alongside the emerging technologies of the digital age.

“It is therefore no longer merely a question of interest but a requirement for students to equip themselves with the critical skills they will need as working adults.

“The STEM Festivals in the coming years will continue to provide students with the opportunity to explore new technologies and digital applications,” he added.

SMK Cyberjaya student Riena Adriana Rudie described it as an amazing experience to learn and work with seniors who are engineering students and lecturers to build and fly a drone.

“It was an exciting learning journey for me and my team mates,” she said.

The STEM Festival 2019 aims to inspire and engage students, parents and teachers with STEM-related fields and its importance as well as impact on the future job market. students throughout the day.

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The crucial role of mentors in STEM education

Friday, May 10th, 2019
Mentors can guide their mentees based on their individual capacity rather than imposing the same material and structure to all of them on the STEM e-mentoring system.

LEARNING in traditional classrooms in schools usually follows a pattern of “listen and learn” and “remember and regurgitate”. Students are given facts and steps, and told: “Do and say exactly what was taught to succeed in this subject.”

As in other subjects, the learning of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) related fields also takes this path in many instances, said Dr Kalaivani Chellapan, a senior lecturer at the Electrical, Electronic and Systems Engineering Department at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s (UKM) Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment .

However, this method of education deliveryis no longer applicable for studentslooking towards having a future career in science — attempting to move into STEM roles after the completion of their schooling, she said.

“STEM programmes, too,have been frequently providing a theoretical education where experiments are conceptualised, physical actions are imagined, chemical reactions and biological processes are described, and perhaps, students may getto see the video of these concepts.

“This may sound good, but those students are, generally, being handed the answers and told to memorise, rather than being encouraged to find the answers and apply critical thinking,” she said, adding that this is not the essence of STEM, where curiosity and exploration take centre stage.

Kalaivani believes students would be able tounderstand the different levels of STEM and possible applications based on the underlying concepts if they are mentored.

“By having educators or teachers mentor the students,paving their curiosity with fundamentals, showing them how to find additional resources and answers to their questions, then releasing them into an immersive education, their breadth of knowledge will expand,” she said.

“The students will learn tobe more independent and have higher competency and versatility in their future trades, as well as set a new standard for their fields.”

Another development thatis evolving the way STEM subjects are being taught at schoolsis the rapidity of technological growth.

Kalaivani said with interactive communications enabled by technology,educators and teachers are no longer regarded as the sole source of information for students.

“In the 21st century education system, students have the ability to capture the depth of knowledge across disciplines via technology.

“As such, learning a science topic from a teacher in a schoollimits the mind growth among studentsas compared with having access to a mentoring system, where they can capture data from different mentorsand integrate the knowledge into information and translate it into creative and innovative thinking.”

She believes higher learning institutions can play their role by preparing their postgraduate students to be engaged as mentors based on their expertise.

The Graduate Academic Competence Empowerment Programme (PKAS) at the Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment, of which Kalaivani is the director, has introduced an online mentoring platform formotivated mentors and mentees to be engaged virtually under a guided platform to share data and translate it into meaningful information that facilitate learning.

“Thee-mentoring system provides mentors a platform to exercise their mentoring by personalising the needs of each mentee by takingtheir learning abilities into consideration. The platform allows a mentor to facilitate five mentees at any point of time. Mentor and mentee are matched based on their interest areas stated upon their enrolment in the system,” she explained.

Thee-mentoring system won a gold medal in the recent Malaysia Technology Expo 2019, The 18th International Expo on Inventions & Innovations in the STEM Mentor-Mentee Awards 2019 category.

The STEM e-Mentoring Platform is an in-house design that was used to facilitate the UKM- Selangor State Education DepartmentMentor-Mentee programme, which ran from 2017 to last year.

The system matches the mentor (undergraduate and postgraduate students of UKM) and mentee (school students) based on the area of interest.

“Mentors can guide their mentees’ progress in learning STEM concepts at different paces depending on their individual capacity rather than imposing the same material and structure to all of them. All mentoring structure and material can be controlled and monitored by the system administrators. And all communication between mentor and mentee and their activities will be recorded for security purposes,” said Kalaivani.

The e-mentoring system has been on trial for the last 6 months.

“It will take time to achieve the targeted objective fully due the cultural and technological barriers. Both the mentors and mentees are still in their learning curve in adapting to the new approach of online mentoring rather than the classroom setting,” said Kalaivani.

Asked about future plans for the system, whether it will be rolled out to a bigger audience, Kalaivani said there are plans to introduce this platform in other potential mentoring application in both industry and academia.

“We won the gold medal in the Mentor-Mentee category in which the participants are evaluated on their inventions and innovation in creating the ability to reach mentees in large numbers and at the same time able train the mentors among the university graduates who can share their knowledge to the mentees in need.

The gold medal confirms the need of such system in making mentoring a reality in the long run and also approving that our approach is innovative,” she said

By Rozana Sani .

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Teaching of science, maths in English to start with primary 1 next year, says Sarawak

Thursday, May 9th, 2019

Sarawak Education, Science and Technological Research Minister Michael Manyin.

KUCHING: The teaching and learning of Science and Mathematics in English in Sarawak will only begin with primary one next year, state Education, Science and Technological Research Minister Michael Manyin said.

He said the two subjects will be taught in English at 891 primary schools in the state except in Chinese primary schools.

On April 24, Education Minister Maszlee Malik announced that Sarawak will be the first state to implement the teaching and learning of the two subjects in English for primary schools.

The decision was made following Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s announcement in March that the government had taken the middle-road approach to the teaching of Science and Mathematics in schools.

Mahathir said the approach would allow schools to choose whether to teach the two subjects in English or Malay because some Malaysians supported the idea while others were opposed to it.

Manyin said there were challenges that needed to be resolved before the implementation of the initiative next year.

These included the training of teachers, production of resource materials and the assessment and examination format.

“This is a tough task for us but it’s good for Sarawak.

“I believe that in the next six to seven years, the standard of English among our pupils will improve,” he said.

He said the ministry had started discussions with the Sarawak Education Department on the number of teachers that have to be trained, the module for training and the resources needed.

“We will also be engaging with the institutions of higher learning, namely Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas), Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM), Curtin Univerisity and Swinburne University, and the teachers’ training institute to discuss the training for teachers,” he said.

by Larissa Lumandan.

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Sarawak to teach maths, science in English in primary schools.

Sunday, April 28th, 2019

THE Sarawak government has agreed to be the first state to implement the teaching of Mathematics and Science in English for primary schools in the state.

Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik (pic) said the state government would assist the federal government through his ministry in terms of implementation as well as to train teachers to teach the subjects in the English language.

“Teachers in Sarawak will be trained while initiatives have been carried out by the state government, the state education department and several universities in Sarawak to ensure that teachers receive overall training in the English language,” he told reporters after paying a courtesy call on Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg at his office in Kuching last Tuesday.

The matter was among the issues discussed with the chief minister during the meeting.

Meanwhile, State Education, Science and Technological Research Minister Datuk Seri Michael Manyin Jawong, who was also at the meeting, said the state government had been conducting courses for over 400 teachers in the teaching of English for the mathematics and science subjects this year.

“Some of the teachers will become trainers in their own respective districts and the state government has been discussing with local universities on training our teachers to teach in English where the effort will be funded by the state,” he said.

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Malaysians win at Mathematical Olympiad

Monday, April 15th, 2019
The winning Malaysian team at the Thailand International Mathematical Olympiad 2019 in Phuket.

The winning Malaysian team at the Thailand International Mathematical Olympiad 2019 in Phuket.

YOUNG Malaysians have done the country proud at the Thailand International Mathematical Olympiad (TIMO) 2019 in Phuket.

Tang Kiat Leng, 10, from SJK (C) Puay Chai 2, and Tan Hong Sheng, 18, from Pei Chun High School bagged two Overall Champion awards in the Grade Four category and Senior Secondary group, respectively.

Kiat Leng, who also won the World Star Trophy and a free entry to TIMO Final 2020 for being the highest scorer, has been participating in Mathematical Olympiads since he was five.

He only dared to hope for a runner-up spot in his category, but was pleasantly surprised.

“I like Math as it’s about critical and logical thinking.

“I enjoy the problem solving and get great satisfaction from it. I do maths questions daily,” he said, adding that his achievements were the result of motivation and dedicated guidance from his parents and teachers.

Although he didn’t expect to win, Hong Sheng “hoped I was the best participant there”.

He said the award has made him more confident of himself.

“I’ve always believed that hard work pays. This proves it,” he said.

A believer in practice makes perfect, he tries to excel in everything related to Math.

It’s amazing how definitions, formulas, and principles, can bring about a great mathematical system, he said.

A total of 53 students from Malaysia joined the event held on April 6.

Team Malaysia bagged four Gold Awards, five Silver Awards, 17 Bronze Awards, and 27 Merit Awards.

Over 900 students from Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Ukraine, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Myanmar, Bulgaria, India, Indonesia, Philippines, Cambodia, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, and Australia, participated in the international competition.

TIMO is open to those in primary up to A-Levels or Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM).

By Christina Chin
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STEM policies set for an evolution

Wednesday, March 20th, 2019

Dr Maszlee Malik (left) together with Serena Zara Taufiq (centre), founder of Serena’s Secret, a jewellery startup

THE Education Ministry will be implementing three policy shifts in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education under the STEM For All (STEM4ALL) initiative, says Minister Dr Maszlee Malik.

He said this during his keynote address at the opening of the BETT Asia 2019 Summit in Kuala Lumpur recently.

“While the demand is growing for STEMrelated roles, the supply side is worrying as the number of students taking up STEM subjects had dropped from 48 per cent in 2012 to 44 per cent last year.

“In facing these challenges, the ministry cannot just continue emphasising STEM without putting intervention plans in place,” he said.

The three shifts are to increase the students’ interest in STEM, to expand access to learning STEM subjects, and to evolve STEM to STREAM (Science, Technology, Reading, Arts and Mathematics).

According to a survey by the Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Ministry, Maszlee said nearly 70 per cent of students said they had low interest in STEM subjects because the teaching was too theoretical.

“Hence, one of the initiatives in the STEM4ALL movement will be ensuring that STEM learning is experiential and meaningful for everyone,” he said.

Maszlee said his ministry was focusing on getting teachers on board the paradigm shift by launching a new STEM teacher competency framework, which would shape how future STEM teachers are trained and assessed.

“We also want to expand the access to learning STEM to those in rural communities, low-income families and students with special needs.

“This year, we will be piloting an approach to go directly to rural schools accessible only by boat and dirt roads. We want to bring STEM to them and work with schools to organise experiential activities.

“We are not just looking to put the ‘R’ and ‘A’ into STEM, but STEM into ‘R’ and ‘A’. The introduction of STREAM highlights the relevance and importance of STEM education in all facets of our lives,” he added.

Maszlee launched the STEM4ALL campaign in collaboration with Microsoft Malaysia, an initiative that aimed to bring together parents, educators, students, the private sector and policymakers towards advancing equitable and inclusive STEM education for all Malaysians.

At a round table session, Microsoft Asia-Pacific Education director Don Carlson discussed about creating a culture to deliver 21st century learning.

He said Microsoft was paving the way to transform education in Malaysia by positioning technology at the forefront, and empowering students and educators through innovative programmes.

“I like the idea of what the ministry is doing in regard to STEM. We have to make STEM fun. If you ask a child if he or she wants to be an engineer, he will probably say that’s for boring old people.

“What if, instead, we asked them if they want to solve some of the world’s biggest problems like climate change? Well, that’s the sort of thing that engineers do. They solve problems,” he said.

Carlson said the country was in need of data scientists as stated by Maszlee.

“We are working on the Microsoft Partnership Programme to set up contents, certification, and maybe, a virtual lab.

By Zulita Mustafa.

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Mental arithmetic courseware for pre-schools

Wednesday, February 27th, 2019
(File pix) Associate Professor Ruzinoor Che Mat showing how the Penggambaran Mental Aritmetik untuk Kanak-kanak Pra-Sekolah courseware works. Pix courtesy of UUM

NEW students, particularly those in pre-school, often find it difficult to understand the mathematics learning process, especially those that involve numbers and basic operations such as addition and subtraction.

In light of this, a group of Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) researchers developed a curriculum based on existing arithmetic mental techniques to facilitate the learning process.

Led by Associate Professor Dr Ruzinoor Che Mat from UUM’s School of Creative Industry Management and Performing Arts (SCIMPA), together with Mohd Hafiz Mahayudin and Norani Nordin, the team developed the Penggambaran Mental Aritmetik untuk Kanak-kanak Pra-Sekolah (the Visualisation of Mental Arithmetic for Pre-schoolers) courseware so that pre-schoolers could memorise numbers and understand mathematical concepts more easily.

Ruzinoor said he got the idea to develop the courseware after seeing his children face problems when asked to count fast. So he and his team used the latest technology to develop the courseware.

He said mental arithmetic could be defined as adding numbers together, multiply and perform any other mathematical operations by using the brain without writing it down or using a calculator.

“This mental arithmetic technique can help children build cognitive thinking when they need to use mental visualisation and fingers to perform basic calculation operations. With multimedia support, pre-school students can imagine the mathematical concept at a higher level.

“Assisted by the evolution of computer technology, mathematics learning for preschool children can be improved with the help of multimedia tools to be able to attract their attention and interest, what more kids today are being exposed to computers at a very early age.

“The arithmetic courseware was developed using Flash with a combination of five multimedia elements, namely text, animation, image, audio and videos, which are applicable to devices such as computers and tablet computers, which will attract them to learn mathematics.”

He said the courseware provided the foundation for young children or pre-schoolers to familiarise themselves with and understand numbers. Within the courseware are the introduction module, tutorial, quizzes and games, which could help them easily understand the concept of mathematics using mental arithmetic techniques.

According to Ruzinoor, in the introduction section, students will be exposed to mental arithmetic using hand images representing numbers with other objects, as well as audio to explain how mental arithmetic is represented in one hand, while in the tutorial section, they are exposed to two basic processes in mathematical operations, which are addition and subtraction.

In the quiz section, he said, students were given three choices of questions to test the level of their mental arithmetic understanding, which focused on number base, addition and subtraction, while in the game, the children were given two types of challenges: Catch the Number and Puzzle.

“The use of this courseware will improve their mathematical skills and engage them through the combinations of multimedia elements during the learning process.

“In addition to that, the interactions between teachers and students, as well as between friends, is crucial to increase the level of understanding of the contents of this courseware,” he said.

Ruzinoor and his team members faced numerous challenges in developing the courseware, not least in terms of time and finance.

The project, which started in early January last year and was completed in June, received a grant of RM5,000 from UUM with the mandate it would benefit of the community.


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