In the era of IR 4.0, the demand for highly skilled workers increases while the demand for low-skilled jobs will decline. To embrace this era, Malaysia needs more young generations who have expertise in the field of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). As STEM has a close relationship with the development of technology, the prime minister also gave hope that STEM-related subjects should be given attention.
Strengthening the quality of STEM education has been listed as one of the components in shifts to transform the Malaysia education system, as stated in Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025, with an emphasis on practical applications of knowledge through laboratory and project-based work. Nevertheless, current trends in Malaysia showed reducing interest in science education, with less than one fifth of secondary school students choosing science stream. There is a need to prepare the young people to face the IR 4.0 challenge by ensuring they have high education and skills.
Therefore, the School of Biology, UiTM Cawangan Negeri Sembilan, Kampus Kuala Pilah took the initiative to be directly involved in activities promoting and empowering the STEM field at the level of the younger generation since the campus has sufficient facilities. They have organized the Little Scientist in Action! program in the last school holiday season which provides useful activities to fill the children’s time off. The program held for two days on 7th and 8th September 2022 involved the full participation of 60 children aged between 4 and 12 years. This program was conducted with the aim of fueling children’s interest in science, especially in the field of biology, through observation and experiments in the laboratory. In addition, participants were exposed to new experiences in learning outside of school and communicating with peers of various ages and different schools.
During the two-day program, participants were exposed to various experiments in the field of biology, such as isolation of microorganisms from multiple samples, plant transpiration and animals’ observation. The participants were assisted by facilitators consisting of lecturers, laboratory staff and students of the biology study center. In line with technological and digital needs, there are also learning slots using interactive videos and VR headsets.
This program provides an opportunity for primary school students to do hands-on science experiments, since they are not exposed to complete laboratory facilities at school. With this program initiative, it is hoped to help students to understand a concept learned at school, as well as encourage students to think critically, as well as increase their motivation and interest in the field of science. It is also hoped that this program will be able to have a positive impact on the children in particular, and the country of Malaysia in general.