Science And Technology: For A Better Nation
By Oleh Nur Fadhliana Shaari & Azmir Sharifuddin
KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) -- Science and technology, and innovation play a big role not only in enhancing people's well-being but also in propelling a nation's progress.
The launching of the Science to Action (S2A) Initiative on Nov 1 by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak underscores the government's efforts to intensify the application of science and technology, and innovation for industrial development.
Science is indeed indispensible and the emphasis on the need for Malaysians to excel in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) is increasing in order to develop and create human capital to remain competitive not only in Malaysia, but also globally.
"I really hope that we will be able to instill an interest in science among students to produce respected scientists and professionals in the future," said Vice President of The Academy of Sciences Malaysia (ASM), Professor Datuk Dr Asma Ismail, during an interview with BERNAMA at the National Sciences Challenge (NSC) 2013 at Menara MATRADE recently.
Therefore, the need to have enough supply of future scientists, engineers, medical professionals and innovators is greater than ever if the country wants to be on par with other advanced nations.
J. Hunter Farris, chairman of the ExxonMobil Subsidiaries in Malaysia, told BERNAMA as a technology-based company that highly depends on people with technical skills they were honoured to support and promote STEM programmes to create future scientists, researchers, engineers, and innovators in this country.
Exxon believes and hopes that this programme will open the eyes of students to the possibility that science can be interesting, fun and rewarding so that they will be motivated in pursuing their studies in this field", he added.
ExxonMobil's sponsorship this year is the company's largest contribution to date for a math and science education programme in Malaysia. Globally, ExxonMobil is a strong supporter of STEM education programmes.
"Through our support for math and science educational programmes, ExxonMobil is investing in the future of young Malaysians and helping to prepare them to meet the challenges of the future," said Farris at the prize presentation ceremony for the NSC.
Parents need to expose their children to science at an early age to nurture their interest in the subject matter. However, creating an interest in science among the younger generation is not only the responsibility of the parents, but also the teachers, the media and society as a whole.
"Science is about research, experimental methodologies and critical thinking, that's why educators as well as parents need to teach science in a creative manner," added Dr Asma Ismail.
Teaching methodologies must also be at par with current technological advancements and the teachers need to be more creative to capture and draw the interest of students who are quite technologically savvy these days.
NATIONAL SCIENCE CHALLENGE 2013
The NSC is an annual event organized by the Academy of Sciences Malaysia (ASM) and it is endorsed by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation as well as the Ministry of Education.
It is designed to help promote, nurture, and cultivate interest in science at an early stage by making science fun and interactive out of the confines of school and textbook.
In addition to promoting interest in science and technology among students and encouraging them to be critical thinkers, the NSC also aims to steer future leaders into pursuing careers in science, technology and innovation.
It is also an excellent platform to encourage teachers to be innovative and more interactive in their lessons as well as garnering support from parents to encourage their children to proactively participate in a competition.
Started in 1983 but only entrusted to the ASM in 1999, this competition has become one of the popular competitions among students. More than 14,000 applications were received from all over Malaysia this year alone.
NSC 2013 is organized in collaboration with the ExxonMobil Subsidiaries in Malaysia, with the support of the Ministry of Education Malaysia, ASM's Young Scientists Network and Universiti Putra Malaysia.
The most challenging part of the competition is during the science residential camp where participants have to undergo a series of challenges such as doing research, research presentation, quizzes and report writing.
The Young Scientist Network contributes their expertise in terms of knowledge and content of the programme to make sure the competition is more exciting for the participants.
This year, four teams of Form 4 students from across the nation gathered at the Matrade Convention and Exhibition Centre to pitch their knowledge against one another to win the Prime Minister's Challenge Trophy.
The finalists were from Kolej Yayasan Saad (Melaka), Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan St. Michael (Perak), Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan St. Joseph (Sarawak) and Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Bukit Mewah (Negeri Sembilan)
This year the winning team received the grand prize of a trip to Stockholm, Sweden to attend the prestigious Nobel Prize Award presentation, which was presented by the guest of honour, P. Kamalanathan, the Deputy Minister of Education and witnessed by Farris.
Nur Fatihah Athira Muhammad together with other team members of Kolej Yayasan Saad Melaka, Muhammad Haris Danial Mohd Anwar and Amir Fariq Anuar triumphed over the other challengers to take home the Prime Minister's Challenge Trophy as well as the exceptional study visit to Stockholm.
"We really think all schools need to implement a Science Camp programme which involves a lot of experiments and practical things so that students are able to see how fun science actually is," said Nur Fatihah.
The three members hailing from Kolej Yayasan Saad Melaka witnessed the Nobel Prize ceremony in Stockholm, Sweden on December 10 and also attended the Nobel Lecture and related events there.