Pupils of the Yusaf Ishak High School are free to do so with mobile experimental carts located around the school, some of which are located in accessible places, such as the canteen.
Take a look at how Yusaf Ishak High School daily gives students the opportunity to discover scientific concepts and extend that curiosity to other subjects and the world beyond.
How often do we see science experiments riding around the school in mobile carts where students can explore and treat themselves to anything?
У Joseph Ishak High School (YISS), which is just one of the unique techniques used to introduce students to the wonderful world of STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics. In 2022, the school will have a new campus to expand their ideas as they welcome a new group of 1st High School students.
Arousing students’ curiosity about STEM
YISS teachers came up with the idea of ”experimental arcades”, which are mobile booths containing small scientific experiments. The idea was thought out Mr. Donavan Love, the school’s leading physics teacher, and today the program is known as the “Experiment Captures”. Mr Love says: “We want to challenge the common belief that science can only be studied in classrooms or laboratories because it can take place anywhere.”
The Experiment Excite stroller is specifically designed to encourage group work and collaboration between students.
These experiments are an extension of the topics taught in the classroom, such as electricity in physics or the variety of matter in elementary classes. For example, in water quality activities, registrars are placed in carts to allow students to measure water samples collected from across the school complex before bringing their results back to the classroom for discussion.
Teachers provide learning journals in paper form or in the Student Learning Space (SLS) so that students reflect on what they have learned from these activities. They are not evaluated by teachers, but are designed to promote self-study and collaboration between students.
In 2022, the school’s new Punggole campus will allow teachers to create more experimental arcades and include more places to gather students and share ideas. “We think it will pique the curiosity of the students,” says Mrs. Maureen Coe, director of YISS. “We want to provide more opportunities to help students see that they can discover scientific concepts in more ways than one.”
Ignites the desire to learn more
“Experimenting is fascinating” is just one of many initiatives that YISS has developed to arouse its students’ curiosity and desire to learn more. “It’s important that we can help students keep in touch between what they’ve learned in the program and real-life situations,” says Ms. Tang Sui Lin, head of chemistry.
Another way the school makes real sense in lessons and programs is the urban agriculture program. Here, students will learn about the importance of creating a sustainable future and that Singapore must achieve its 30 out of 30 goal of producing 30 percent of its local and sustainable food needs by 2030.
Mr Love said: “We always think about what will be relevant to students not only for their personal growth but also about how they can contribute to Singapore’s development.”
Each class at YISS takes a vegetable plot when they start high school 1. Students can grow crops such as lettuce and Cancong on their plot.
Students select the basics of planting and maintaining crops before engaging in site as a class.
“It promotes a spirit of ownership and return,” Ms. Tang explains. “Students support their vegetable plot, and give the harvest to low-income residents living in the neighborhood of our school.”
With the new campus, the school plans to expand the scope and scale of the urban agriculture program with plans to introduce technology to improve its programs.
The school will also redouble its commitment to promoting STEM through an applied learning program known as S4TEM @ YI (pronounced: STEM at YI). It will feature school-wide activities and mini-projects related to sustainability and smart cities, distributed on topics such as food sustainability, coding and robotics.
For example, students can develop smart urban agricultural solutions such as automatic watering systems for microgreens. “This technology is readily available in the market, but we want students to appreciate and understand the logic of the process and create their own innovative solutions,” says Ms. Tang.
Development of a thirst for research
Due to the new beginnings for YISS, a stage has been prepared for students to learn “in the classroom through links with curricula, and out of the classroom through research,” as Mrs. So says.
During the academic year, students gradually become acquainted with a variety of learning experiences related to STEM. Students have the opportunity to explore the fields of aeronautics, nanotechnology and artificial intelligence through seminars and hands-on activities.
The school collaborates with industry experts such as researchers from A * STAR and the Institutes of Higher Education to conduct these programs. Some of the practical activities include working with gliders and drones or even learning to program robots.
Students can learn to program a robot as part of STEM school initiatives.
For students who are particularly fond of STEM, they may consider CCAs such as STEM Club or Robotics. They will join the ranks of YISS graduates who have become acquainted with coding techniques, computational logic and biochemistry – some have even represented the school at national competitions.
“We link STEM learning to our school’s overall curriculum, but we have the space and opportunities for students to jointly create ideas, research and prototype their creative ideas,” Ms. Tang says. “The wide variety of programs encourages self-directed learning, encouraging students to learn more while developing a thirst for research.”
Curiosity, resilience, entrepreneurship and creativity are habits that have been identified in school as the most important traits that students need to solve the problems of the future.
“Ultimately, we want our students to be interested in‘ innovation ’and get rid of constraints,” Mr Lau says. “One question we often ask them is, based on what you already know, how you can apply these ideas in a way that benefits yourself and others?”
What was unthinkable yesterday may be possible tomorrow. We just need creative thinkers to push the boundaries of science and technology – like these student inventions to solve environmental problems.