There has been so much hype about STEM education in Singapore, but what exactly is it, and why is it important?
Since Singapore implemented STEM education in 2014, there has been an increased demand for parents to enrol their children in STEM education as early as pre-school.
But it’s hard to jump into the bandwagon before you understand how the system works and why it is essential for your little one.
That’s why I have created this guide; to help you understand STEM education in Singapore; and why it’s crucial for your child at an early stage.
Take note that this guide has well-researched and every information you’ll find here is credible and authentic.
That said, let’s dive in.
Stem Education Definition
What is STEM Education in Singapore?
STEM is “n abbreviation for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. STEM education in Singapore is a curriculum that focuses on teaching students in the disciplines mentioned above – Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.
As opposed to other countries that teach STEM in a conventional approach, STEM education in Singapore integrates the four disciplines into one cohesive learning model that focuses on real-world examples.
The Ministry of Education in Singapore supports STEM education and has played a more significant role in ensuring that students get the best out of this learning paradigm. MOE has partnered with STEM inc, a new unit under the Singapore Science Center to help with improving STEM education in Singapore.
That said, STEM education in Singapore begins at the preschool level. The goal or objective of introducing the model at such an early stage is to equip children to understand more complex issues later in their lives.
Why is STEM Education Important?
One of the million-dollar questions most parents continuously ask is: Why is STEM Education Important?
Due to the rapid technological advancements, students must develop their STEM skills to keep up with the innovations.
In Singapore, the Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong said that STEM education is crucial because the skills students acquire will be critical for the next 50 years. He said:
“Building greener homes, connecting our waterways and parks […] and even complex projects like the High-Speed Rail link between Jurong East and Kuala Lumpur, all these require expertise and skills in engineering, technology and design.”
Additionally, the Chief Executive of Science Center Singapore noted that: “Science and technology have provided the impetus for our economic growth and progress; raising us from a small settlement to innovation and knowledge-driven society today.”
How STEM Education is Different
Learning in schools is shifting away from the traditional approach of students confining themselves to books and classrooms to experiments and experiments.
There are a ton of differences between STEM education and the traditional education system. Below are the differences that set STEM apart from the conventional approach of learning:
Knowledge VS Implementation: Traditional education system focuses on instilling knowledge to students. It gives too much attention to books and theories, with little focus to real-world scenarios. On the contrary, STEM centres on teaching kids science-related issues while also highlighting how they can apply them in real life.
Replication VS Creation: The traditional approach of learning centres on replicating what’s already there, for example, replicating the hypothesis. On the other hand, STEM focuses on building creativity in students and helping them think “outside the box.”
Learning VS Doing: Traditional system is based on reading and learning from books and assessments. On the contrary, the STEM education system centres on doing activities firsthand through experiments. It helps with building curiosity in students, which helps them explore the world better.
The three differences above summarize the distinctions between the traditional education system and STEM education system. Now let’s move in-depth and see how STEM education in Singapore works.
STEM Education Overview
You need to fully understand STEM, so in this section, I’m going to give the STEM Education Overview – from how it works to STEM careers in demand.
How STEM Education in Singapore Works
You should understand is that STEM doesn’t mean a complete change of the existing curriculum. That said, STEM teachers can incorporate terms such as experiment and models to expose students to essential STEM vocabulary.
Additionally, students can use iPads and computers during lessons; a system that the Ministry of Education has pushed for. With the MOE’s push and support, use of technology such as iPads and computers in classrooms is already happening.
Also, students learn through stories, where they read stories with STEM components, identify a problem from the stories and come up with a solution to the issues they have identified.
A model of the STEM system of learning includes the following steps:
- Identification of a real-world problem
- Coming up with a hypothesis
- Developing solutions
Why Start STEM Education When Young
Numerous studies prove that introducing students to early STEM education equips them to understand more intricate concepts later in their academic journey.
That said, the earlier you introduce your child to STEM learning, the better he or she will develop a keen interest and understanding of STEM education.
It’s not difficult to teach STEM to children because they have a natural and innate curiosity to know more about what’s happening around them.
Teachers should, therefore, create a learning environment that allows children to explore and ask questions related to STEM education.
Lastly, introducing STEM learning in preschool prepares children to understand technological innovations better later in their lives.
Additionally, the STEM system of learning at preschool level equips children with problem-solving skills that will help them solve technical problems in the future.
STEM Careers in Demand
You don’t want to fritter away time and money introducing your child to STEM education if there’s going to be no good Return on Investment.
You probably want your child to go through the new model and, after that, secure a well-paying job. So what are the STEM careers in demand?
Sure, there are a ton of well-paying STEM career jobs in demand. In 2018, projections showed that there was a shortage of 8.65 million workers in STEM-related career jobs. Besides, according to the U.S Department of Statistics, STEM-related jobs are growing at a rate of seventeen per cent compared to 9.8 of other career jobs.
But what are some of the STEM career jobs in demand? Below is a list of STEM occupations and their price ranges. Be sure to check them out.
- Systems architect – SGD 88,350
- Data scientist – SGD 61,200
- Mechanical engineer – SGD 53,300
- Nurse – SGD 41,583
- Software engineer – SGD 61,888
- Actuary – SGD 98465
- Petroleum engineer – SGD 74,997
- Cybersecurity expert – SGD 53,304
- Doctor – SGD 89,279
- Electrical engineer – SGD 54,583
STEM VS STEAM
What is STEM vs STEAM?
As earlier said, STEM is a model of learning that incorporates science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. STEAM is no different, except that it adds one more discipline – arts. That said, STEAM is the incorporation of science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics into a system of education.
But why STEAM or STEM education in Singapore? Let’s find out.
Why STEM and STEAM are Important
But the question remains: how will STEAM and STEM in Singapore help your child? This is a million-dollar question that can be best answered by statistics. Here we go:
- Students who take arts in secondary school for four years score 98 points higher on the SATs as compared to students who take arts for half a year or less.
- Students who involve themselves in music appreciation score 61 points higher on the verbal section and 42 points higher on the mathematics section.
- Students who undergo arts training are more creative and innovative. Such students can approach issues with a creative mind and optimism.
STEM and STEAM Programs in Singapore
There are a ton of companies offering both STEM and STEAM programs in Singapore and children are loving it. Below are examples of programs you can find in Singapore for your child:
WondersWork: If you want your child to be a LEGO robotics engineer, then WondersWork would be the right place. Here, children develop their own LEGO robotics as well as learn STEM, which helps build their creativity.
Science Center Singapore: If you have a child of the age between 18 months and 8 eight years, kids’ STOP at Science Singapore Center will be an excellent place to take your child. At Science Center Singapore, children are made to play in a safe environment and also introduced to STEM principles.
Now that you know some of the STEAM and STEM programs in Singapore, let’s dig deep into some of the schools in Singapore with STEM and STEAM programs.
Schools in Singapore with STEM and STEAM Programs
1. Canadian International School, Singapore
At the Canadian International School Singapore (CIS), STEAM learning is integrated into the school’s curriculum, starting from preschool to grade 12 and other co-curricular activities such as Lego leagues, robotics and coding.
CIS usually have an annual STEAM fair where parents can have the opportunity to observe the STEAM projects their students have been working on as well as give you an idea of what STEAM education looks like.
2. GEMS World Academy Singapore
Because GEMS World Academy Singapore is known for STEM innovations, rest assured that your child will have access to current and emerging automation as well as cutting-edge research.
GEMS offers STEM learning both in primary and secondary levels. At the secondary level, STEM learning at GEMS focuses on building problem-solving skills across various subject areas.
3. EtonHouse International School, Singapore
Students at EtonHouse International School, starting from preschool to secondary have access to spaces where they can try to mend things around the campus. These spaces have the necessary objects and technology they may need.
EtonHouse International School curriculum includes 3D gaming, coding, animation, programming, media authoring, among others. Besides, EtonHouse also educates their students on how to be ethical by incorporating cybersecurity and cyberbullying into their curriculum.
Take note that the above three schools aren’t the only ones that support both STEM and STEAM learning in Singapore. Of course, there are many others.
STEM learning continues to grow every day. Therefore, there’s a need to look at some of the STEM trends. So without further ado, let’s discuss the current STEM trends.
1. Teaching our Teachers
Indeed, many teachers never went through the STEM system of learning during their time in school, which means that most of them are not familiar with it.
According to a report by SAM Labs, four in five – seventy-eight per cent of teachers admit that they haven’t received adequate training to enable them to teach STEM in the classroom.
That said, teachers need a combination of micro-credentials, a curriculum, and content to help them adapt to the teaching style required for STEM learning in schools.
2. Incorporating STEM Into Other Subjects
STEM learning is becoming increasingly important to students in Singapore. That said, students need to start seeing STEM in subjects that are not science. In other words, STEM should incorporate non-science related subjects such as History, Photography, English, and Social Studies.
3. Parental Involvement
To get the best out of children’s education; in terms of their academic outcomes such as test scores, parents should be involved.
Besides, when parents know the academic potential of their children, they tend to be more involved both at home and in school.
It will, therefore, be a smart idea when schools begin a parental involvement program, where parents can follow carefully STEM education offered to their children.
STEM Activities for Kids
1. Sticky Note Number Match
Sticky note number match is one of the simplest ways to help your kids learn maths. Sticky note number match is an exercise that involves tape and paper. So kids will look for sticky note numbers and stick them on the wall over a grouping of stars that matches the number they have selected.
2. Coding a LEGO Maze
Coding a LEGO maze helps children get started with the basics of coding. Additionally, this exercise gives suggestions to make things simpler for kids and complicate it at elementary or middle school.
Also, this activity offers printable materials such as instruction cards and different mazes, which enables children to line up various codes to help the LEGO person find his or her way out of the maze. This is important as it jogs the mind of children.
3. Build a Balance Scale
Building a balance scale involves a string, hanger, and some cups. You can help your kids build a hanging balance, which they can use to experiment with weights of different items. To help your kids even better understand the weights, you can pose questions such as, “how many LEGOS does this toy car weigh?”
4. Oil Spill
This is one of the most common STEM activities for kids. For oil spill, you will be required to mix oil and water in a container, then add feathers to the mixture. Next, you can either pass out little spoons or sponges. Once that is done, ask your child to try removing the oil from water and feathers. This activity will help kids understand how oil spills can affect the environment.
Benefits of Stem Education
1. Encourages Experimentation
Nearly all technological advancements were realized through risk-taking and experimentation. People thought that some of these ideas would never work, but through risk-taking and experimentation, the same ideas became the best since sliced bread. This kind of attitude is possible with the incorporation of STEM education, which encourages students to try something out and see the outcomes.
2. Encourages Teamwork
Teamwork is power, and two heads are better than one. STEM education enables students of different abilities to work together; through discussions and experiments to find solutions to real-life problems.
3. Encourages Knowledge Application
The traditional system of learning focuses on learning through textbooks and continuous assessments. On the contrary, the STEM education system equips students with the ability to apply what they learn in real-life. Besides, the ability to apply what is learned in class may bode well for students when they finally get employed.
4. Encourages Tech Use
Technology is one of the major drivers of the Singapore economy, and that’s why the Prime Minister, Lee Hsien welcomed the idea of STEM system of learning. STEM system of learning educates students about the power of innovation and technology. That said, students who pass through the STEM system of learning can embrace the new innovations instead of being uncertain about them.
To Sum It Up
In the beginning, your biggest worry was to determine whether or not the STEM system is the best for your children.
Hopefully, your mind is now settled through this quick guide. You now know what STEM education system in Singapore entails, and how it works.
And maybe, who knows? You have made a decision that you are going to register your child for the STEM system of learning.
Finally, before I go, feel free to ask a question if anything sounds unclear to you. I will try my best to give you the best possible answer.