It is heartening to see members of the public take an interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Stem), following Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's call for students to join these fields after graduation ("PM pitches science, tech, engineering, maths to students"; May 9).
Indeed, Stem remains one of the key pillars of Singapore's continued success, especially as we advance towards our Smart Nation vision.
Additionally, Stem gives us the power to create solutions for current and future social and economic needs, as well as global sustainability issues.
Singapore's approach to Stem education has been to engage children from a young age, to nurture a love for these subjects in the early years.
While children are exposed to mathematics from Primary 1 and science from Primary 3, as part of the school curriculum, parents can tap a child's natural curiosity and make use of playtime to expose young ones to the wonders of science prior to that.
Young children learn best by doing, and make sense of their environment by experiencing it through their senses.
Family outings to the parks can be complemented with facts about plant growth and the life cycle of various animals, to facilitate understanding about how science plays out in real life.
During the formal science education years, students can be encouraged to explore Stem-related applied learning, for an early induction into a Stem career. To this end, the Ministry of Education and Science Centre Singapore (SCS) introduced the Stem Applied Learning Programme (ALP) last year.
This initiative helps students appreciate the relevance and value of science theories learnt in the classroom and motivates them to acquire related knowledge and skills. By next year, 65 mainstream secondary schools will offer the Stem ALP.
Clearly, science education for different age groups requires varying approaches, and inspiring Singapore's young towards a Stem career path involves numerous parties.
SCS, too, is playing its part. For almost four decades, we have been implementing diverse programmes and exhibitions that intrigue visitors about science and its applications. We also have contests for students of all school levels.
Parents, teachers, the industry and SCS alike continue to play their roles in nurturing a passion for Stem, and we hope these efforts will encourage our young ones to pursue studies and careers in Stem.
Lim Tit Meng (Associate Professor)
Science Centre Singapore