Malaysian students from 11 secondary schools in Perlis, the smallest state in northern Malaysia had an opportunity to design, build and fly their own rocket using the concepts of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) learning program. This STEM learning program is one of the Government initiatives conducted in order to increase the number of students opting for STEM subjects as the nation’s number of STEM students showed a declining trend from 48 percent in 2012 to 44 percent in 2019. A two-day program was organized by the Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change (MESTECC) jointly with the Faculty of Applied Sciences, Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) Perlis Branch, the Kedah Rocketry Group and the Perlis Department of Education. The program which aimed at nurturing STEM among local secondary school students in Perlis was held successfully from 3rd to 4th of February, 2020 at UiTM Perlis Branch.
The program exposed the 44 sixteen-year-old students who participated to rocket development as well as enhance the knowledge of STEM. UiTM as the organizer played a vital role in coaching the participants to design and build the rocket with the help of Kedah Rocketry Group until the stage of launching the rocket. The students were given hands-on experience in designing the rocket via Autodesk fusion 360, Ultimaker Cura and openrocket software applications. Students were further exposed to general knowledge on a rocket model such as its aerodynamics, stability, construction, material and payload operation. This experience using various types of software is a good start to ensure that the young generation is armed with future-ready STEM skills which might help with steering Industrial Revolution 4.0 into the nation as the fabrication of the rocket was built using 3D printing technology. Activities like this will encourage the interests of students in STEM as they are given a good introduction to the concept.
The rocket launch which was conducted on the second day of the program saw 11 rockets successfully launched. Before the launch, students were briefed on safety information related to rocket model activities. With well- prepared safety codes, the rocket model launch activities went on safely, and students found it fun and educational. Students experienced how their rocket design affects the movement of their rocket model in the air. The main aim of this program was to provide a better platform for the students in cultivating their interest in STEM and it was achieved with the guidance and expertise from UiTM Perlis and the Kedah Rocketry Group.
At the end of the program, 3D printers were presented to all the 11 schools by Tuan Mohamad Yusof Radzuan bin Saad, Deputy Secretary of MESTECC. It is hoped that the donation will generate interest among secondary school students in rocket science and technology in the future. The acquired knowledge obtained in this program can be applied to other aspects of science and technology and not just limited to rocket science. UiTM Perlis and Kedah Rocketry will ensure that this program will be brought to higher levels whereby a series of these programs will be conducted throughout the year enabling more students to be trained as well as a new innovation in STEM to be materialized.