Datuk Dr. Mohd Radzi Md Jidin, the education minister of Malaysia emphasized, “The current decreasing of younger generations’ interest in the science and technology field is worrying”.
This generation can be seen to be more interested in public relations, business, social careers, becoming social media influencers, and digital-related careers. Experts in the science and technology (S&T) field are important and consistently needed for the development of the world for the better of our future generations. One of the possible ways to solve this declining interest is to diversify the methods of conducting scientific experiments right from the primary school level. There is nothing wrong with the conventional way, however, with the vast propagation of technology, the skill set, and interests of the younger generations have evolved tremendously. Teaching methods must also evolve to match the interest of the younger generations in order to conduct more efficient teaching and learning activities.
In realizing this mission, a group of senior lecturer researchers from the Universiti Teknologi MARA, Negeri Sembilan branch (UiTMCNS), Malaysia, has developed a scientific experimental kit named “Let’s Science Up Kit” to approach primary school students and to investigate how this kit can aid in increasing their interest in S&T field. The group of researchers comprised of the group leader, Ts. Dr. Aslizah Mohd Aris, members, Dr. Muhammad Aidil Ibrahim, Dr. Amirul Adli Abd Aziz, Dr. Mu’adz Ahmad Mazian, Dr. Wahidah Mohd Zain, Mdm Wan Admiza Wan Hassan, Mdm Siti Hajar Md Jani, and the facilitator, Mdm Norshamsina Daud.
Through questionnaires, the researchers discovered that the primary schools, especially in the rural area of the Kuala Pilah district in Negeri Sembilan are lacking scientific instruments. This led to minimal scientific experimental exposure for the students leading to a decrease in interest in this field of concern. Additionally, the younger generations preferred more visualization, practical and hands-on activities. They preferred a more personal practical approach, more visualization in their reference books, and the integration of technology during learning activities. All of the demands were taken into consideration during the development of the experimental kit.
The “Let’s Science Up Kit” comprised of four sets of microbiology experiments including algae, environmental microscopic organisms, yeast, and virus. The experiments are based on the scientific experiments listed in the syllabus set by the Ministry of Education Malaysia. This will allow students to have fun with the experiments while still abiding by the syllabus. The kit was aimed to increase the understanding of the students in a very fun and enjoyable way. On top of that, integrating the element of instructional education, reference book, lab manuals, and practical videos were also included inside the kit that can be assessed through the scanning of QR codes. The practical manual and videos were incorporated so that students could perform the experiments individually in the comfort of their homes. To satisfy the demand for more visualization in teaching and learning, the kit was incorporated with a very colorful reference book, filled with images of the microorganisms that they are learning, and the practical video was also included to maximize the practical experience where the video was made professionally showing an easy step by step procedure of how to conduct the experiments by professional instructors. The materials included are very safe, which can allow the students to conduct the experiments at home while involving younger siblings to perform the experiments for early exposure to the S&T field. This will eventually have the potential to elevate the interest of the primary school students in S&T.
The researchers are very confident that the kit developed can effectively increase the understanding of the students on the microbiology subject through a fun practical approach and eventually increasing their interest in S&T. Feedback from the students after using the kit was remarkable, proving that fun practical activities as such can increase students’ interest in a particular subject.
The “Let’s Science Up Kit” was awarded the gold medal and the team was crowned the champion of the Malaysian southern region, Innovative and Creative Group Convention 2022, and is soon to compete in the National Innovative and Creative Group Convention 2022. The kit has obtained numerous supports from the local authorities in the development of teaching and learning activities. Mr. Mohd Mulub Mohd Yusuf, the deputy of School Management sector, Education Office of Kuala Pilah district mentioned, “The ‘Chalk and Talk’ teaching method cannot bring the real experience (of conducting experiments) to students. This kit is interesting and can give that experience the students deserve”.
It is hoped that more fun scientific experimental kits like the “Let’s Science Up Kit” can be developed in the future to increase the interest of the younger generations. This can influence the increasing enrollment of students in the S&T field and eventually, more S&T experts can be made that can ensure the propagation of the world’s modernization for future generations.