SINGAPORE - On Friday (April 16) afternoon, 14 Primary 2 pupils from Big Heart Student Care Centre in Teck Whye Primary School were given a mission - to each build a solar-powered vehicle out of recycled materials.
Under the guidance of their facilitators, through trial and error, the children successfully put together the solar-powered vehicles.
A seven-year-old said it was the first time he had used a screwdriver and he tightened all the screws by himself. "It was fun and enjoyable," he said.
It was the first workshop under the 3M Tinkering Headstart at South West Programme, which was launched at the school on Friday. It is a collaboration between multinational company 3M and Science Centre Singapore (SCS).
The year-long programme encourages underprivileged children between the ages of seven and 12 to learn through play, exploration and experimentation. This is in line with Singapore's shift towards applied learning.
Upcoming workshops include marble coaster and resin art. The workshops aim to inspire fun and create an interest in science while helping children understand the importance of science in daily life, and also to nurture the next generation of engineers and scientists.
Associate Professor Lim Tit Meng, chief executive of SCS, said: "Children are natural scientists. Our purpose in partnering 3M on this very meaningful programme is to create a learning platform where curious and inquisitive young minds can come together, learn and be inspired."
Participating pupils will also have more access to Stem (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education to enhance their cognitive skills through the workshops.
At the launch, Ms Low Yen Ling, Mayor of South West District, noted that it is important for the young generation to have Stem-related competencies to thrive in a post-pandemic world.
"If they develop capabilities and knowledge in these areas, they can open doors to brighter prospects and gain a chance to a better future. In a way, we are also broadening the scaffolding of their future career possibilities."
Mr Kevin McGuigan, managing director of 3M South East Asia Region and country leader, said the Covid-19 pandemic has emphasised the importance of science in solving the world's biggest problems. "Science is and will be one of the primary drivers behind fixing some of the largest challenges we have all around the world."
The programme aims to engage 600 beneficiaries, and is to be extended to other areas nationwide by the end of the year. SCS will work with the Community Development Councils to bring the workshops to underprivileged children.
Prof Lim said: "Stem is a skillset that everybody in the 21st century must learn, and this programme is part of the uplift. We are really reaching out to the underprivileged. It is important to not let some segments of our children and families miss out from this education opportunity because the gap would become bigger and bigger."
Parents are also encouraged to continue engaging their children at home post-workshop through tips printed on worksheets.
Said volunteer Pang Hoke Woei, 50, a senior manager at 3M and a facilitator in the workshop: "To me, a huge part in volunteering is to see the kids embracing science and seeing the wonder in their eyes. That is really rewarding."
Correction note: An earlier version of this story misspelled the names of volunteer Pang Hoke Woei as well as Big Heart Student Care Centre. We are sorry for the errors.