Archive for the ‘Teaching of Science and Mathematics’ Category

Early risers and better mental health

Friday, April 13th, 2018

There is much truth in the adage, ‘early to bed, early to rise will make you healthy, wealthy and wise’.

Everyone has the same 24 hours in a day but how are some able to accomplish great things while others turn in mediocre results.

Time management is the key to success and failure for it gives that edge in achieving our dreams.

Waking up early is a virtue that needs to be cultivated among the young. Many youths have the habit of waking up just in time to hurry through the early morning chores before rushing off to work.

There is no time to pause, plan and profit from reflection. Not to mention the stress that goes with it.

We need to cultivate the habit of waking up early from an early age.

When you win the battle of the bed and put mind over the mattress, it will allow you to take control of the day rather than the day dictating terms to you.

You have the extra hours to do the things that you always wanted to do in a day but which you could never do because of your hectic schedule.

The early morning is the most crucial part of the day and setting off on a good early start will unfold a wonderful and beautiful day.

Science now tells us what others have been saying through the ages, that early risers enjoy better mental health and are more productive.

By getting up early, you have ample time to care for yourself which will make you a better spouse, parent and professional.

The adage “the early bird catches the worm” amplifies the re wards of waking up early in a dog-eat-dog world.

By SAMUEL YESUIAH.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/letters/2018/04/356687/early-risers-and-better-mental-health

Penampang school leads charge in harnessing energy

Friday, April 6th, 2018

KOTA KINABALU: Five schools in Sabah were selected by Shell Malaysia to promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) amongst lower secondary school students in Malaysia.

According to Prithipal Singh, Shell Malaysia Senior Representative, revealed the company introduced a STEM immersion programme known as #MyGeekMovement to 15 selected schools nationwide in August last year, including five schools in Sabah.

(The five Sabah schools are SM All Saints, SM La Salle and SMKMaktab Sabah in Kota Kinabalu; SM St. Michael in Penampang; and SMK Sung Siew in Sandakan.)

Shell Malaysia focused on STEM to influence students to take an early interest in fields like engineering, information technology and automation.

“This will increase the numbers of STEM graduates thus helping to meet national targets and aspirations,” a company statement said.

MyGeekMovement provides learning content that complements the existing school co-curricular structure with a long-term goal to increase number of students opting for science stream in the selected schools, while boosting interests in science and technology amongst the young generation.

STEM are subjects at the very heart of Shell, according to Prithipal.

“Our industry needs talented people with relevant knowledge and skills in these areas. Through our STEM-related programmes, we actively shape and participate in the energy transition.”

With the support of the Ministry of Education, #MyGeekMovement Shell STEM Malaysia selected 225 form one students in 15 schools in Sabah, Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia. These students will experience the opportunity to gain hands-on STEM learning, with a focus on technology. Peer to peer coaching is also implemented to widen the knowledge beyond those directly involved in the participating schools.

During the showcase, Shell Malaysia presented the innovative inventions produced by the students involved in #MyGeekMovement. The students delved into an ‘Access to Energy’ challenge and the five Sabah secondary school champion teams were engaged in a #MyGeek-a-thon showcase to vie for the title #MyGeekMovement Sabah State Champion.

The team from SM St. Michael, Penampang was announced as the Sabah champion yesterday. Their prototype invention combines wind and hydro turbines and a solar panel to convert wind, hydro and solar energy as renewable energy to produce electricity. The team will represent Sabah in the #MyGeekMovement Malaysia Grand Finals, scheduled next week in Cyberjaya, Selangor competing against the other state champions of Peninsular Malaysia and Sarawak.

Read more @ http://www.newsabahtimes.com.my/nstweb/fullstory/22844

Getting preschoolers in math early

Tuesday, March 20th, 2018
Christina Andin (fourth from right) with the mentors for the Accountant Junior programme.

DURING early childhood, infants and toddlers develop 700 neural connections every second. This period has long been accepted as the most critical point in neurological or brain development.

Experts say this sensitive period of development must be utilised to start children on the right path to be successful in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), and other content areas. Once these neurological pathways are developed, they go through a pruning process, in which synapses that are not used are eliminated.

Based on this, the Faculty of Psychology and Education at Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS)

has taken on an initiative to focus on creating STEM activities, particularly in the area of Mathematics, for preschool level (nursery and kindergarten) children under the STEM Mentor-Mentee Programme driven by the National STEM Movement.

“The Faculty of Psychology and Education produces graduates who are recognised in the field of Psychology and Education.

“We have five programmes: Science and Mathematics with Education, Social Science with Education, Economic with Education, Education with Teaching English as a Second Language and Early Childhood Education.

“The programmes train teachers for the said particular areas. Thus, we have strong connections with schools as we are producing future teachers,” said senior lecturer Dr Christina Andin.

Why mathematics?

Christina said research confirmed that the brain was particularly receptive to learning mathematics and logic between the ages of 1 and 4, and that early mathematics skills were the most powerful predictors of later learning.

“Early math skills are a better predictor of later academic success than early reading. Basically, we hold this findings as justification in the paperwork for this STEM project.”

For the STEM Mentor-Mentee Programme, Christina collaborated with fellow lecturer Dr Connie Shin.

“She is from the Early Childhood Education programme and I am from the Economic with Education programme.

“Our study is about the learning of numbers among preschoolers. We used money as a medium to learn mathematics because it provides a perfect, authentic opportunity to explore mathematics.

“Each coin and paper money has an assigned value. These can be used to engage kids in techniques of sorting, counting, comparing, measuring, adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing, and, eventually, using fractions, decimals, percentages and more,” Christina said.

“Accountant Juniors”, the name of the project, illustrated the ambitious mind to be“like a professional”.

“As we know, an accountant is a professional who performs accounting functions, such as audits or financial statement analyses,” said Christina.

Accountant Junior also has some integrated learning objectives, such as introducing and familiarising children with money, value and the concept of trading, developing social skills, and practising negotiation skills, turn taking and sharing.

The activities provide opportunities for working out problems and experimenting with solutions.

“The development of the modules involved several stages,” said Christina.

“The first was to determine the content to be taught, where we referred to the latest syllabus of Early Mathematics by the Education Ministry. Then, the writing of the lesson plan, which provides important guides for teachers on how to implement the teaching and learning activities. Following that was the creation of the teaching aid as a tool for teaching and learning activities.”

As the concept is based on games, there are five games within the modules that range from simple money-counting activities to more complex money calculations.

The games include an activity called “Know Your Money”, where preschoolers get familiar with coins and paper money. This activity is divided into three sub-activities, namely “Pancing Wang”, “Many or Little” and “Pay by Price”.

Activity 2, “Wheels of Dreams (Needs and Wants)”, is based on the theory in psychology proposed by Abraham Maslow. Through this game, children will learn about the concepts of cheap and expensive through identifying of price tags.

Activity 3, “ATM Machine (Addition and Subtraction)”, relates to the introduction of value in money to children. Children will be exposed to activities that involve addition and subtraction.

Activity 4, “Monopoly (Plan Your Money)”, is a board game where players are involved in making purchses and saving money. This game applies the concepts of addition and subtraction, as well as enhances cognitive, affective and psychomotor aspects. Kids will distinguish between earning, spending, saving and sharing money. The money used per player is below RM10.

Lastly, Activity 5, “Spend and Save”, introduces to children as early as 4 to the usage of 10 sen up to RM10.

“We implemented Accountant Junior in real classroom settings. This involved the pre-test and post-test. The pilot programme was held in Ranau, Kota Belud, Labuan, Kota Kinabalu and Kuala Penyu in Sabah, involving 15 kindergartens, with the presence of 375 preschoolers,” said Christina.

To fulfil the basic concept of the mentor-mentee programme, the kindergarten and nursery teachers took on the role as mentees and university students as mentors.The students are from UMS’s Early Childhood Education programme.

“They are the future kindergarten teachers. Therefore, engaging them in this activity will indirectly expose them to the real world of teaching and learning in the kindergarten context. This is important in producing teachers who have the passion for STEM education,” said Christina.

UMS second-year Early Childhood Education student Phreoza Dayzency Missie said: “The programme is all about exploring early mathematics and exposing preschoolers to financial literacy and money skills. We observed that lower primary schoolchildren often have problems dealing with transactions at their school canteen and thought of teaching them to count by using games and activities.

“The 12 of us mentors, students of the Early Childhood Education Programme, have worked with 33 mentees — kindergarten teachers. We’ve been thinking of turning the games into software applications, so that we can run the programme in Sarawak and the rest of Malaysia too.

“The age of 4 to 6 is very critical to instill understanding of numbers and relate it to problem solving.”

And has the Accountant Junior mentor-mentee programme been successful?

“This is only the starting point for the STEM Mentor-Mentee Programme at UMS. A lot of things need to be done, especially in involving the rest of the three components of STEM, Science, Technology and Engineering,” said Christina.

“We are also in the process of developing the module for ‘Natural Lab’, where we use the eco-campus environment as a medium of learning science concepts among pre-schoolers.

By ROZANA SANI.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/education/2018/03/344979/getting-preschoolers-math-early

MB against teaching of Science and Maths in English.

Tuesday, March 6th, 2018

SEREMBAN: The teaching and learning of Science and Mathematics in English (PPSMI) policy has shown that there is a big gap in the mastery of the English language between rural and urban students, says Negri Sembilan Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan.

He said while it was true that English was an international language, learning Mathematics and Science in English was difficult for students, especially those in rural areas.

“English is an international language and the language of knowledge, students in primary and secondary schools can learn it, but not in the teaching of Science and Mathematics because these are difficult subjects,” he told reporters after officiating the SK Taman Warisan Puteri and SMK Warisan Puteri here yesterday.

Mohamad said English should not be used to assess learning.

Read more @ https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2018/03/06/mb-against-teaching-of-science-and-maths-in-english/#uQxdg628ZREzutIe.99

Developing human capital for the future workplace

Wednesday, November 29th, 2017
Students attending a lecture at Universiti Malaysia Pahang last year. We must help make science education more interesting, relevant and applicable to our daily lives. FILE PIC

MALAYSIA needs to be prepared for a rapidly changing, increasingly interconnected and technologically rich world where there will be many new opportunities.  There will also be disruption across many industries, demanding greater career flexibility.

We need expertise in various disciplines, particularly science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). More effort is needed to increase the number of researchers, scientists and engineers. In the future, we will have to compete with our brains, and with science.

Promoting STEM education has long been prioritised in Malaysia, beginning in the 1970s with the first national science and technology enrolment policy, which aimed to see 60 per cent of students enrolled in science studies, 40 per cent in arts

Increasingly today, however, Malaysian students opt out of STEM fields at the secondary school and tertiary levels — part of a worrisome global trend.

To overcome this, science teaching must change, with the overall objective of fostering a living science as a dynamic force for societal improvement. Our efforts must be geared towards the creation of a scientific mind. Science teaching has to evolve from its traditional form, where sciences are taught without showing much of its exciting usefulness and practicality in everyday life.

In classrooms, scientific laws are learnt, not discovered; hypotheses are not tested but taught. This does little to develop an attitude for inquiry, adaptability and objective understanding. Students need the ability to critically observe, analyse and draw conclusions on everyday phenomena. We must help make science education more interesting, relevant and applicable to our daily lives.

Graduates must not only be book smart and curious, but have the “soul” or conscience to know right from wrong; they must have the ethics and integrity to pursue science for the betterment of society.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak believes that increasing the number of STEM students should be a “national movement” to ensure our competitiveness in the global arena

Tabling the 2018 Budget recently, he announced RM250 million to set up a STEM centre to develop the latest learning methods to train STEM specialist teachers.

The computer science curriculum module will be enhanced to include coding by primary and secondary school students, and 2,000 classes will be upgraded to 21st century smart classrooms to enhance creative learning and innovative thinking.

The government is also committed to technical and vocational education and training, announcing the TVET Malaysia masterplan, including 100 TVET Excellent Students Scholarships worth RM4.5 million.

Also of note is the bid to support skilled workers in the rail industry. The new  National Rail Centre of Excellence, Malaysia Rail Link Sdn Bhd, in cooperation with higher education institutions, will train 3,000 professionals in the industry.

In 2011, futurist Thomas Frey predicted that 60 per cent of the jobs in the future have not yet been invented.

Among them are drone traffic supervisor, data scientist, avatar designers, 3D printing engineers and autonomous transportation specialist. We need to address the conundrum of how to prepare our young for this

On that point, physician and writer Dr George W. Crane makes this assertion: “There is no future in any jobs, the future lies in the person who holds the job”.

Hence, we can no longer focus on equipping students for specialised careers. Career paths are becoming more flexible and we need to change expectations of what a person’s “career”, or “careers”, will look like. Of course, we need specialists and academics, but businesses need employees with a broad range of skills and experience that can help them to creatively adapt to technology-rich environments. Young people need that range of skills so that they can move between careers.

Graduates of the future should become job creators, rather than job seekers. The world needs new ideas, innovative solutions and visionary leaders who can make them happen.

Today’s most successful entrepreneurs are those who pursue both economic and social values, who create not only wealth but also a wealth of opportunities for others. Entrepreneurship education is a vital part of the overall curriculum.

We also should prepare the education system to support the ongoing re-qualification of the industrial workforce, recognising the need for training to take place in more settings than traditional locations. This support could include providing online-learning platforms and access to free courses at “open” universities, which have no entry requirements, as well as using mobile apps to offer training and access to know-how.

By ZAKRI ABDUL HAMID.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2017/11/307861/developing-human-capital-future-workplace

Robotics competition to instil interest in STEM subjects.

Saturday, November 25th, 2017
Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid (fourth right) shaking hands with a life-size robot as students and officials looks on during the World of Robotics National Championship 2017

Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid (fourth right) shaking hands with a life-size robot as students and officials looks on during the World of Robotics National Championship 2017

THE teaching of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education to primary schoolchildren is the way forward and is in line with the Government’s vision, said Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid.

“And robotics like the World of Robotics National Championship 2017 (WRC) will broaden minds and create more talents among the young students.

“STEM Education is very significant with the need of Industrial Revolution 4.0 that emphasised on knowledge, skills, technology and innovation in the digital and robotics industry.

“This is to educate students on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics with the integration and application in the real world.

WRC, organised by World of Robotics Sdn Bhd and Pitsco Education with the cooperation of the Education Ministry and APU, had 575 students from 90 schools taking part in five categories.

The categories are Junior (aged five to six), Primary 1A, Primary 1B and Primary 2 (seven to 12) and Secondary (13 to 17).

World of Robotics managing director Lee Yew Kein was pleased with the response from schools and hoped participation would increase next year.

SK Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin teacher Roziah Sulaiman, from Jitra, Kedah, said it was the only rural school that took part and got first place in the primary school category last year.

“In fact, we have a Robotics Club set up in 2002 only but became active in the last three years.

“Our school is very proud of its achievement and a robotic character was painted in murals around the school,” she said.

A total of 575 students from 90 schools took part in this championship.

Nur Elisha Wong Muhammad Elyas Wong from SK Convent Bukit Nanas 1 teamed up with Omisha Dinesh from SJK(T) Simpang Lima to win the Junior category.

In the Primary 1A category, SJK(T) Serdang’s Sakkti Velan Vivekananda, Ghautheam Saravanan and Sharath Saravanan grabbed the first prize.

SK Dato Onn Jaafar’s trio Farah Qamilia Shahnizam, Muhamad Alif Burhan Shahnizam and Muhammad Aqil Hakim Kamal Bahrin emerged champions in the Primary 1B category.

SK Taman Melati’s Nur Maisarah Darwisya Mohd Faisal, Nurul Alya Hannani Nor Isham, and Adam Harris Mohd Khusyairy grabbed the first spot in the Primary 2 category while SMK Gombak Setia’s Muhammad Arif Erman, Ahmad Aiman Nor Azam, and Muhammad Hafizam Masril emerged champion in the secondary school category.

Read more @ https://www.thestar.com.my/metro/metro-news/2017/11/25/robotics-competition-to-instil-interest-in-stem-subjects/#9eGuZ16EjOvo3xLF.99

Children need to be more hands-on in tech

Sunday, November 5th, 2017
The Kuala Lumpur Science Engineering Fair 2017 (KLSEF) aims to encourage schoolchildren to be more involved in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and cultivate their interest by challenging them to create their own gadgets. (Pic by NURUL SHAFINA JEMENON)
By TEH ATHIRA YUSOF - November 5, 2017 @ 5:26pm

KUALA LUMPUR: The Kuala Lumpur Science Engineering Fair 2017 (KLSEF) aims to encourage schoolchildren to be more involved in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and cultivate their interest by challenging them to create their own gadgets.

Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) head of digital lifestyle and society John Tay said it was important to mould young minds for the future of tech development in Malaysia through the three day event which started on Nov 3.

Tay added that the fair held at the Mines International Exhibition Convention Centre (MIECC) was to inspire students to be interested in STEM subjects like programming especially at a younger age.

“Every year, we have more and more schools attending our events. This year we decided to have more hands-on activities such as drone making where they need to use household products like ice-cream sticks. From there, they can learn the mechanics of the gadget and appreciate the toys they are playing with.

“It is important to generate interest, creativity and innovation as many other countries are emphasising STEM education. We want to challenge the kids and make their parents see how technology can enhance their child’s development,” Tay said.

At the three-day event, workshops are held for students and participants in badge, drone and LED circuit making. There is also a robot soccer competition.

Pahang’s Sekolah Kebangsaaan Wan Ibrahim student Farhan Adib Zakaria, 12, said it took him a month to build his Lego robot called R2.

“So far, I have won one match today and I hope to win on the last day of this event.

“It was my teacher who helped me build R2 and the most challenging part was putting in the gears but I enjoyed assembling the robot because it was similar to building a car but on a smaller scale,” said the student who aspires to be a pilot.

The event also holds exhibitions by STEM companies like Park Easy, Nazrol Tech and Quadtech Entreprise showcasing new developments in the industry.

By TEH ATHIRA YUSOF.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2017/11/299516/children-need-be-more-hands-tech

National STEM Movement Woos STEM Enrolment

Saturday, November 4th, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 2 (Bernama) — The National Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Movement is actively approaching students to make them interested in STEM which is important to spur the growth of the country in line with the vision of the National Transformation 2050 (TN50).

Its chairman Prof Datuk Dr Noraini Idris said various programmes such as townhall, colloquium and roundtable conference were held in each state to show the importance and opportunities offered through STEM.

“Alhamdulillah we have seen an increase in the number of students joining the STEM streams, for example in Terengganu, although the actual percentage has yet to be ascertained because we are still at the stage of collecting data, but there is an increase,” said the deputy vice-chancellor (Research and Innovation) of Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI).

She said this when presenting a working paper entitled ‘Mentoring STEM Talents: Current Challenges and Future Expectations’ at an experts discussion with the theme ‘Strengthening STEM Education: Value and Culture Approaches’ here today.

Noraini said the movement was set up in 2015 as an initiative by academicians from various universities under the Higher Education Ministry to address the shortage of students joining the STEM courses nationwide.

Based on the programmes being organised, the acceptance of students including from primary schools is encouraging, Noraini said, adding that programmes for parents were also organised so that they would support and encourage their children to be involved in STEM courses.

“We tell them that not all students who take up STEM will be doctors or scientists but the knowledge will help their everyday life and in the workplace,” she said.

BERNAMA.

Read more @ http://education.bernama.com/index.php?sid=news_content&id=1406726

Stopping the decline of STEM enrolment

Sunday, October 22nd, 2017
Hong (middle) and Prof Lee (second from right) posing for a group photo with representativesof the fair’s partners. They are (from left) Norhasrizam Hashim, Koh and Dr Tan.

Hong (middle) and Prof Lee (second from right) posing for a group photo with representativesof the fair’s partners. They are (from left) Norhasrizam Hashim, Koh and Dr Tan.

MILLENNIALS could perhaps be the most fortunate children of all generation so far.

They are born into a technologically advanced era and are blessed with the best their parents can afford — be it education, latest gadgets, well-being, and more.

Some of their parents even take a further step, planning every little detail to ensure their children would secure a good job upon graduation.

The Kuala Lumpur Engineering Science Fair (KLESF) organising committee chairman, Prof Lee Sze Wei, says parents who are concerned about the employability of their children, should encourage them to join the Science stream – known as Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education.

He stresses that society, parents in particular, need to break away from the perception that a STEM education is unnecessary if the child doesn’t plan to become a scientist or engineer.

“Students themselves should also learn to conquer their fear towards Mathematics and Science, they are not that difficult with a little bit of practice,” he says.

This is why the KLESF would be an informative platform for people of all age groups to truly understand STEM education and its significance, adds Prof Lee.

Entering its 4th edition this year, the KLESF is set to be bigger and better, with fun, interactive and interesting activities for parents and students to familiarise themselves with the STEM sector. It will be held from Nov 3 to Nov 5 at the MINES International Exhibition & Convention Centre. Admission is free.

The fair was first organised in 2013 by the Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology (MIGHT), Asean Academy of Engineering and Technology (AAET), Institution of Engineers Malaysia (IEM), and Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR).

Prof Lee says it aims to enhance interest in STEM and emphasises practical and hands-on skills.

“A lot of children cannot learn just by theoretical thinking. They have to see, touch and feel to absorb new knowledge,” he explains, and adds that more than 20 private and public universities will host all kinds of actives for the children at the fair.

Over 50 companies, as well as multiple government agencies, will be exhibitors at this year’s fair.

One of the main activity is the KLESF challenge – a STEM international competition where students (in teams of three) have to exhibit their creations during the fair and be judged.

Other activities include the 13th Malaysia Festival of The Mind 2017 by MMLM, RAC’17 rero Annual Championship by Cytron Technologies Sdn Bhd, 2nd International Junior Chem-E Car Competition by IEM, and Pistek, an annual Science competition organised by the Education Ministry.

KLESF 2017 will have exhibitors from China and Hong Kong for the first time.

KLESF steering committee chairman Datuk Hong Lee Pee describes STEM as a “gateway into many fields”.

He points out that students would be trained to possess analytical capabilities and logical thinking skills – which are absolutely necessary in the workforce in the future – if they pursue a STEM education until Form Five at the very least

“If the percentage of students in STEM continues to decline, Malaysia would have a severe shortage of skilled workers,” he says, citing China and India, as countries that are also concerned about the rapid decrease of STEM students and workforce.

“Teachers and headmasters are more aware of the importance of STEM education, but we need more help from all parties to boost interest in STEM.

Read more @ http://www.thestar.com.my/news/education/2017/10/22/stopping-the-decline-of-stem-enrolment/#1t0Rwvbp2OF2770t.99

STEM’s teaching challenge

Thursday, October 12th, 2017
Participants in the ExxonMobil-Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia STEM club programme in Kuala Terengganu last week. The programme aims at improving the quality of STEM teaching, and increasing students’ interest and participation. PIC BY ROZAINAH ZAKARIA

YOU may have noticed the term STEM has been making headlines and introduced as the “next big thing”. Most of us know what the acronym stands for, but do we really understand what it means, how it shapes our lives and why it is vital to the future of a country?

STEM refers to the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, but the term has a broader meaning in education.

Last week, I had the opportunity to sit in a session with a group of Terengganu teachers who attended the ExxonMobil-Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) STEM club programme to undergo pedagogical training and build content knowledge in STEM.

With my last formal exposure to science and maths coming from secondary school days, I had many questions on what STEM is from an educational perspective.

Can science and maths alone be STEM? What makes a STEM lesson? Are technology and engineering integrated in science and maths only when appropriate?

The three-day programme for teachers majoring in science, mathematics and technology is one of ExxonMobil programmes leading the charge in STEM initiatives to support the country’s pursuit of a STEM-driven economy.

It is understandable for ExxonMobil, a multinational oil and gas corporation operating in Terengganu, to broaden its STEM support, particularly in this state. This pilot project, in its first phase, aims to develop a group of 64 STEM Master Trainers with the hope that the programme will be self-generating by the third phase.

Educationally, STEM is about creating innovators of the future. The programme’s training modules and content, developed and delivered by UKM, emphasises questioning and discovery rather than rote memorisation.

With the declining appetite for science among Malaysian students, the programme aims at improving the quality of STEM teaching and, subsequently, increasing students’ interest and participation in these subjects.

ExxonMobil-UKM STEM Club programme leader Dr Mohamad Sattar Rasul said while the science and mathematics curriculum had changed in the last few years, changes in teaching practices had been minimal.

“While our students are good in memorising, they lack application and reasoning skills. They may have good grades, but they are not literate in science because they do not understand the science concept in depth,” said Sattar, who is also a senior lecturer in the Department of Innovation in Teaching and Learning at UKM’s Education Faculty and a UKM STEM research member.

Data analysis by his colleague, Professor Dr Lilia Halim, shows that the cognitive domain of knowing the content in science among students in Malaysia and Japan, within the same age group, is similar.

Japan is one of the top performing countries in TIMSS, a global assessment of maths and science education.

However, there are indications that some of the cognitive domains, such as applying and reasoning skills of our students, which can be developed by STEM lessons, are lower compared with students in Japan. This is the reason why our students did not score high in TIMSS.

So, are our teachers implementing the best practices for teaching STEM in schools? Or, maybe the question should be: Are our teachers prepared to implement STEM education?

At present, it seems that there is inadequate attention to the teaching of STEM in school. As with almost all new initiatives, conceptual challenges are a major roadblock.

Talking to some teachers during the programme, I came to the conclusion that the meaning of STEM education has not been properly clarified to them, yet the term is widely used these days in relation to the need to increase the number of science students.

Our students are so used to a teacher talking at the front of a classroom while taking notes and doing worksheets. There is no practical science activities during lessons.

The limited attention to STEM subjects may also be due to other priorities, such as the number of As achieved in exams.

Traditional testing poses a challenge to STEM integration. The culture of overtesting in the last two decades has led to students facing more pressure than ever to get the right answers during exams.

The results of these exams are also being tied to teacher evaluation systems. Teachers feel pressured to teach to the test, drilling students so that they can regurgitate information accurately.

At the same time, only a handful of these teachers have taken the full complement of STEM courses in life sciences, natural sciences and mathematics as part of their formal education and may need formal training in these fields as part of their professional development.

An effective teaching system needs to be developed before STEM learning can be fully integrated. Research has provided evidence that conceptual teaching has benefits not offered by traditional teaching and students do as well if not better in tests.

A STEM lesson must provide students with the opportunity to explore hands-on real-world scientific problems. The goal is to make clear that science is a process. Students identify a real-world problem, ask questions to explore and solve the problem, and develop solutions and explore a hands-on activity.

An example: When covering renewable and non-renewable energy, students examine which renewable energy type would work best for a fictitious town and why.

Research also shows that students can understand relatively advanced concepts in STEM and enjoy learning experiences that explore such subjects.

By HAZLINA AZIZ.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2017/10/289761/stems-teaching-challenge