Science Centre's flagship Young Scientist Badge programme turns 40: Over 1m badges awarded to pupils

Under the Young Scientist Badge programme, pupils complete certain tasks and activities to earn badges. PHOTOS: SCIENCE CENTRE SINGAPORE, BE A YOUNG SCIENTIST/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - 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, which will be available in 2023, 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, which are already available currently, are named after scientists whose journeys are multidisciplinary in nature.

"The activities of these badges span at least three relevant subject areas," he said.

These areas include chemistry, physics, food science and ecology.

Polish-French scientist Marie Curie, known for her discovery of radiation and work in radioactivity, 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 known for being a butterfly collector.

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 at the event on Wednesday, said more than one million Young Scientist badges have been awarded since 1982.

"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," he said.

The badges introduce science to students in a real and relatable way, providing opportunities for them to develop initiative and creativity through hands-on learning, he added.

"In addition, efforts are constantly being made to ensure that the badge activities are accessible to students from different backgrounds," said Mr Chan, adding that students with special needs have also attained the badges.

The badges also provide avenues for parent-child bonding and are a way for children to keep learning, he said.

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

The Young Scientist programme started with four badges, with activities curated in line with the national science syllabus.

Science Centre Singapore chief executive Lim Tit Meng said in his speech: "We started small and the response was heartening.

"Over the years, as interest in the programme grew, so did our confidence. With the rising momentum of beyond-the-classroom learning, 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, who has got 21 badges under her belt since Primary 1, said she hopes to attain the Marie Curie badge.

Lakshmi Naveen Iyer with her parents Naveen Venkakaramani (left) and Lalitha Ramanathan. Lakshmi has 21 badges, of which her favourite is the Young Marine Biologist badge. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

"I would like to learn more about her because she's a very important figure in science and she discovered radioactivity," said the 10-year-old.

Lakshmi, whose favourite badge is the Young Marine Biologist, hopes to one day be a science animator who can raise awareness to protect marine life and the oceans.

Rainbow Centre student Javier Yeo, 13, who has cerebral palsy, got an astronomy badge last year with the help of a mentor.

Rainbow Centre student Javier Yeo with his mentor Jerome Bourgeon (left) and Rainbow Centre teacher Zhang Jieying. Javier earned an astronomy badge using assistive technology to do research and presentations. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

Javier, who has an interest in space, used assistive technology devices like a head-controlled mouse and clicker to do research and come up with presentations on topics like the solar system.

"I studied black holes, white holes, horoscopes and the lunar calendar, and I worked really very hard for this badge," he said. "It means the universe to me."

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.