- By Syafiqah Muhdi
Explorer Junior is humbled to be invited as guest exhibitor and speaker at this year’s MOE Education and Career Guidance (ECG) Symposium that happened on the 4th April at Ngee Ann Polytechnic. The event welcomed thousands of eager and curious Secondary School and Junior College Students.
The MOE ECG team seek to equip students with necessary knowledge, skills and values to make informed decisions at each key education stage for successful transition from school to further education or work. Unlike other career fairs and events , the ECG Symposium revolves around Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) in working and school environment. Many organisations were present at the event, ready to share the knowledge with the students that signed up for this symposium and Explorer Junior is one of them.
Focusing on applying Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) as a teaching approach, Explorer Junior garnered a lot of attention from students, educators and even adult learning institutions.
What is STEAM to Explorer Junior?
Explorer Junior's Learning Framework: This framework incorporates STEAM which guides our programme planning in Explorer Junior.
At Explorer Junior, we incorporate STEAM in our unique learning framework. In this framework, we get children to first research on or surface out real-life pain points that are faced by people in the community. Next, we start asking ourselves and our students several questions to empathize and understand the issue at deeper level in order to be able to prescribe a scope to the problem. The process of exploration and experimentation involves the STEAM approach where we tackle a problem from different facet. If the solution fails, it shall be an opportunity to evaluate and reflect. Troubleshooting and iteration happens.
Siah Jin Jim, a student from St Andrew’s Junior College (SAJC), was one of the many students that visited our booth that day. He mentioned that, “the idea of using technology to teach kids is very new and fresh.” That was one of the reasons that attracted him to Explorer Junior’s Booth.
Show-It-Off: Queensway Secondary School students were eager to successfully complete their paper circuit in order to impress their Physics teacher when they get back to school.
An example would be the activity we prepared during the symposium. We got the students to try out the paper circuit activity with given materials such as paper clips, copper tape, LED light and coin battery. Students were tasked to light up the LED light using the materials provided. We barely gave any instructions in order to allow them to tinker on their own.
The success rate for this activity was low at first try. About 99% of them failed the first attempt because of the following:
1) Wrong placement of battery
2) Paper clip being a weak conductor of electricity
3) Wrong placement of LED light
However, this process of tinkering, experimenting and problem-solving is as important as the outcome. Students were then prompted to reconsider how a circuit works prior to re-assembling them. At the end, many of them managed to light the bulb up. Such simple activity can engage students of all ages, and even adults!
The MOE ECG Symposium has definitely been an eye-opener for us as an organization. We saw many possibilities to grow out of our comfort zone and adopt our way of learning for age groups beyond the pre-schoolers, our key focus in curriculum development. We are invigorated to expand our program offerings, so look forward to more activities and actions for the 7 to 12 years old in second half of 2019!
We, at Explorer Junior continues to believe in keeping education progressive and relevant, so as to prepare our children for the future. With the right environment, tools & learning methodologies, we hope to nurture curious & creative minds. Through engagement as such, we hope to not just iterate the possibilities of using STEAM to develop necessary soft-skills and competencies, but also to inspire more students to put their knowledge to good use and solve real-life problems.