How relevant is STEM education for our future generation?
Singapore is on its way to becoming a technological hub. The little red dot was ranked one of the most innovative countries in the 2017 Global Talent Competitiveness Index. Creativity and innovation has played an important role in paving the future of Singapore. In addition, the government is currently invested in the development of science, mathematics and technology to sustain economic growth and prosperity. According to a report by the Business Times, the government had set aside a budget of S$19 billion in 2016 to fund research, innovation and enterprise activities (RIE2020) in Singapore. The funding was aimed to support research as well as developments in the technology sector.
These elements were noted to be critical in the growth of Singapore and are needed to gain a competitive edge within the market. According to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, science, technology, engineering and math skills are crucial to Singapore for the next 50 years due to the shift in the industry trends. He also expressed that only when investment has been made, we can build the future of Singapore that thrives on innovation and enterprise. As Singapore moves towards becoming a node of technology, innovation and enterprise, we see the country transitioning into a smart nation. In recent news, Straits Times reported that upper primary school students would undergo coding enrichment classes by 2020. As the industry trends continue to shift and students also need to gain specific skills to keep up with these changes.
So how does one prepare their child for a digital savvy nation?
We sat down with Sharon Ismail, a TV personality and parent of two, to ask her a few questions about the importance of STEM education in the development of her children.
Sharon and her two daughters Iman (9) and Sarah (12)
KEWL Krew: Why do you think learning coding or making a robot are relevant for a child’s development?
Sharon: Coding is actually one of the more fundamental languages to pick up today if you ask me because coding is actually the building blocks of the new world order where everything is digital first. And people talk about AI and user experience.
Robotics is just a natural manifestation of the way coding is used. It’s really important that our kids learn it because that’s the world that they’re going to live in and hopefully create new things even when they grow up.
Sarah and Iman getting the full hands-on experience of a KEWL class!
KEWL Krew: Why should parents encourage their kids to attend KEWL workshops?
Sharon: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math are growing industries in the New World Order. And if we don’t let the kids learn them now, by the time they graduate from university, the world as they know it and the job market that they enter will be very different. Some of the jobs that they won’t get actually don’t exist now. But when they have the basic skills like STEM, I think they can translate that into any industry that they want to enter. Kids need to learn to code and do robotics now just to get comfortable with it. Learning a new language always takes time. And it takes time to get comfortable and get familiar with it. Maybe for us as parents it sounds a bit scary because we’re so much older than they are but I think we need to really be open minded and expose our kids to it. Who knows, we can learn along with our kids too.
KEWL Krew: What are the key benefits of having kids attending the KEWL workshop?
KEWL Trainer showing the step by step process up close and personal
Sharon: I think it’s a perfect learning opportunity. In a setting that’s given in a workshop form. Kids get to learn it hands on. Once they watch what the trainer is doing, they are able to do immediately do it for themselves.
Iman getting into the groove of building a bot
They don’t have to sit back passively like some classroom situations in school will have to be limited to because of the size of the class. Here, the class size is very small so the trainer gets to give individual attention to each child. At the same time each child gets their own set to build their own robot. I think that’s a very valuable way of learning especially robotics and coding. It’s learning by doing so I think It’s really nice that they get to do that today.
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