3 new Young Scientist badges launched as Science Centre programme turns 40

The Science Centre Singapore's flagship programme created to stimulate primary school pupils' interest in science turns 40 this year and, to mark the occasion, three new Young Scientist badges have been launched.

Under the Young Scientist Badge programme, pupils complete certain tasks and activities to earn badges. Since 1982, more than one million Young Scientist badges have been awarded.

With the addition of the Marie Curie and Margaret Fountaine badges and the Young Fabricator badge, pupils could soon earn a total of 25 badges.

Announcing the launch of the badges on Wednesday at the Science Centre, Education Minister Chan Chun Sing said that the first two badges are named after scientists whose journeys are multidisciplinary in nature.

"The activities of these badges span at least three subject areas," he said. These include chemistry, physics, food science and ecology.

Polish-French scientist Marie Curie, known for her discovery of radiation, was the only person to win the Nobel Prize in two scientific fields - physics in 1903 and chemistry in 1911. Margaret Fountaine was a British entomologist and natural history illustrator.

The third badge, which is supported by Temasek Foundation, highlights the growing importance of digital fabrication like 3D printing, and hands-on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Stem) education tinkering skills.

Mr Chan, who was the guest of honour, said: "Many Singaporeans who grew up in the 1980s and 1990s may have kept these badges from their childhood. For them, these badges are filled with nostalgia, and probably bring back vivid memories of the sense of accomplishment felt when they fulfilled the requirements for each badge."

The badges introduce science to students in a real and relatable way, he said, adding that the activities are also accessible to students from different backgrounds.

He said students with special needs have attained the badges.

Stem education is critical for Singapore's younger generation to provide novel solutions to tackle the challenges ahead, he added.

The Young Scientist programme started with four badges.

Science Centre Singapore chief executive Lim Tit Meng said in his speech: "Over the years... we introduced more badges and revamped activity formats so students could encounter science in unexpected places like in the park or even in their own kitchens."

Haig Girls' School pupil Lakshmi Naveen Iyer, 10, who has 21 badges under her belt, hopes to get the Marie Curie badge.

Rainbow Centre student Javier Yeo, 13, who has cerebral palsy, got an astronomy badge last year with the help of a mentor and assistive devices. "I studied black holes, white holes... I worked really very hard for this badge," he said. "It means the universe to me."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 23, 2022, with the headline 3 new Young Scientist badges launched as Science Centre programme turns 40. Subscribe