Wanted! - Innovative, Creative Individuals for School of Science and Technology
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
A secondary school where “students learn by experimenting, tinkering, and by taking a project through all its stages - from concept to design to building the models”. This is the essence of the upcoming School of Science and Technology, Singapore (SST), which will offer “a new option for students who are likely to be university-bound, but who want a solid academic foundation and immersion in real-world applications,” said Minister for Education, Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, at this year’s Budget Debate.
Opening in 2010, SST is a new specialised independent school that will offer a four-year, broad-based curriculum leading to the GCE ‘O’ levels. Students will study academic subjects similar to their peers in other schools, such as English, Mother Tongue, Mathematics, the Sciences and Humanities. But they will have wider options for applied subjects at “O” Level such as Design Studies, Environmental Science and Technology, Biotechnology and Media Studies.
Complementing the practice-oriented curriculum, class sizes will be reduced to about 20 to 25 (from the usual 30 to 40) to maximise student-teacher interaction. Accordingly, teaching methodology will be adjusted to encourage more practical experiences and self-discovery, and ICT will be widely used to enhance teaching and learning. The school will have a mix of teaching staff from mainstream schools, lecturers seconded from the polytechnics, as well as individuals from the private sector with relevant industry experience.
Parent Ms Lau Sze Sze, whose sons are in Pri 2 and Pri 6, fully supports the SST. “I do think our existing education system and schools are very good. But for Singapore to stay ahead, such a specialised school is necessary.”
Noting the smaller class sizes and opportunities for hands-on learning, she adds, “Children will have fun applying textbook theories to real life, which is very important as they can associate what they have learnt with practical experiences. This will also help them better remember what they have learnt. The chance to experiment will enhance their overall learning experience, while the practical skills they acquire in school will help them when they further their studies or join the workforce.”
Dunman Secondary student, Richard Chan Po Hong, is currently taking an applied subject, Creative 3D Animation, at “O” Levels. He notes that applied subjects are taught in a different way, focusing more on experiential learning and practical experiences where students are given time and freedom to explore. Richard enthuses, “ I really enjoy the practical sessions because we discover something new every time”.
Reflecting on his fascination with animation, Richard is grateful for his chance to study it as an applied subject in his school, noting that “it is important to have a good foundation” should he want to pursue it as a career. Smilingly, he says, “It’s a dream come true.”
SST is scheduled to take in its first batch of Sec 1 students in 2010, and will also admit up to 50 more students at the Sec 3 level each year from 2012. It will be Singapore’s fourth specialised school, after the NUS High School of Mathematics and Science, School of the Arts, and Singapore Sports School.
Admission will be through the Direct School Admission (DSA) scheme, with interviews, portfolio assessment and selection tests. This will begin in June 2009.