“I am a young champion in sustainable development” and “I am a young scientist in geospatial” are two of the newest badges that primary school students can try to get when they take part in the Young Scientist Badge program, which is still strong. after 40 years. Hear from program champion Beatrice Fernandez, once a passionate badge collector who has now made a career in science.
Ms. Fernandez wore four Young Scientist badges, which she received back in school, on her jacket from the Science Center.
It has been 40 years since the Singapore Science Center (SCS) introduced the Young Scientist Badge Program (YSBP), and Beatrice Fernandez is well aware of that. The SCS science teacher recalls how as a child she completed activities and collected relevant badges, and eventually felt so inspired by the program that she pursued science as a career.
YSBP today offers 21 badge programs, and more than a million badges for young scientists have been awarded; it is a proprietary primary science program with enduring and endearing values that many adults are able to identify with even today. He also introduced into science the concept of self-knowledge, which proved to be quite a novelty in primary school in the 1980s.
The school bag caught up with Ms. Fernandez, who is a teacher and champion of the YSBP task force at SCS. She shares from personal experience how the Program continues to expand self-study opportunities to shape the next generation of young scholars.
Ms. Fernandez explains to the participants of the seminar “Young Ecologist” about aerial roots.
What are your memories of the Young Scientist Badge program?
My primary school teacher Teck Ghee introduced me to YSBP. At the time, I had no idea that I was actually self-taught, because I had a lot of fun drawing posters, making models and collecting insect samples to make four badges – I’m a young zoologist, I’m a young entomologist, I’m a young ecologist and a young mathematician.
Getting the last of these badges took me by surprise because as a student I never liked math! And so my mom was very proud of me when I came home with just this badge.
What impact has this had on you?
The encounter with various sciences allowed me to express my passion and love for nature at a young age and prompted me to pursue this career.
I have continued to study environmental biology and today I am a teacher of life sciences at SCS where I teach science programs for school groups and conduct seminars for young scientists for the public.
I recently worked on a program for young scientists that involved geospatial science and information systems – which was a rather unconventional field of science for me – but given my early training in trying things like this, I knew I could survive it if I tried. And guess what? I did!
Students in the upcycling workshop and turn an old t-shirt into a reusable package. They are on the way to earning the badge “I am a young ecologist”.
How are such experiences managed?
The badges are curated by teachers, researchers and teachers experienced in the primary science curriculum – covering a wide range of sciences, from the natural sciences such as “I am a young ecologist” and “I am a young marine biologist” to STEM-related, such as “I am young” engineer ”and“ I am a young informant ”, to the physical sciences, for example,“ I am a young chemist ”and“ I am a young physicist ”!
Two of our latest badges are also quite special and interdisciplinary: “I am a young champion in sustainable development”, developed in collaboration with the Temasek Foundation, and “I am a young geospatial scientist”, developed in collaboration with the Singapore Land Office. .
Different activities with different levels of difficulty have been developed for each icon. Easy assignments cost one point – for example, writing a poem or searching for information, while tasks that cost three points always require more effort – such as traveling, designing experiments, and recording observations over a period of time.
The submitted record of activities will be verified and approved by the Singapore Association for the Advancement of Science (SAAS). The Association is a member of the National Academy of Sciences of Singapore and works with SCS to promote and promote science.
What is your role in all this?
As the leader of a working group of young scientists, I can view student materials, interview some young scientists, design and conduct seminars, and prepare annual virtual ceremonies!
The Young Scientist icon scheme is available to all elementary students who can enroll in the program here. Registered students can enroll in workshops for young scientists that are open to 10-12 year olds online.
SCS also organizes activities to complement the ones that students do on their own to get the badge. The Friday Star Watch classes help them earn young astronomer points, and self-government in SCS, such as the Young Environmentalists Trail, will help students get the “I am a young ecologist” badge.
The student tests a handmade telescope, part of an activity that counts toward the “I am a young astronomer” icon.
How does the program encourage self-study?
Most of the assigned activities are related to the curriculum of the Ministry of Education. Despite this, YSBP encourages curiosity and the joy of self-knowledge through self-directed learning that is not experienced in school. This happens organically when students study badges and try interesting activities while taking responsibility for their own learning.
Such exposure creates a mindset of openness to learn new things and fosters pro-activity, independence and responsibility – highly desirable leadership qualities that students can hone.
How can parents encourage self-study at home?
Be open to your child’s curiosity and questions. Facilitate the process of finding answers for yourself, instead of giving answers. This can be done by allowing you to experiment at home! You will be amazed by your children’s enthusiasm and interest in learning something new, and you can even learn something new from them!
What would you say to beginning young scientists?
Don’t be afraid to try something new because you’ll never know if you’ll like it until you try it! Initiatives like YSBP give you plenty of opportunities to explore and learn a lot, so take advantage of this and collect as many icons as possible!
The Young Scientist Mark (YSBP) program was first launched as the Primary Science Club by scientists and faculty at the Singapore Science Development Association (SAAS), the Singapore Teachers Association (STAS) and the Singapore Science Center (SCS). This year marks the 40th anniversary of YSBP, and next year a number of events are planned, such as the launch of alumni, as well as fun activities that parents can hold with their children at SCS.
Thomas Danny Jayesilan, Media and Communications Manager, Singapore Science Center