PCF pre-schools to adopt tech, invention lessons to help kids develop critical thinking

The lessons were piloted in 12 PCF Sparkletots pre-schools in 2018, and had been rolled out to a total of 61 centres since then. PHOTO: PAP COMMUNITY FOUNDATION/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - All 320 PAP Community Foundation (PCF) Sparkletots centres that offer kindergarten services will progressively adopt a new addition to their curriculum over the next three years to help children develop critical thinking skills and come up with solutions for everyday problems.

The Stemie (science, technology, engineering, mathematics, invention and entrepreneurship) lessons were piloted in 12 PCF Sparkletots pre-schools in 2018, and had been rolled out to a total of 61 centres since then.

During Stemie lessons, teachers play the facilitator role by prompting questions and discussions about issues that need solutions. From there, children will research through books, online, or by talking to their friends and family to come up with inventions that will solve the problem.

Minister for Communications and Information Josephine Teo announced the roll-out to the 320 PCF pre-schools at a virtual fair on Tuesday (Jan 11) that showcased the inventions made by children from some of the centres that have already adopted Stemie into their curriculum.

The children gave presentations in the style of TED talks at the Future-Ready Fair, showcasing their own inventions.

One of them, six-year-old Ellyssa Ling from PCF Sparkletots @ Cashew, came up with a working prototype that uses shadow sensors and beeps to remind her classmates to push in their chairs when they leave their seats.

Six-year-old Ellyssa Ling developed a device that uses shadow sensors and beeps to remind her classmates to push in their chairs when they leave their seats. PHOTO: PCF SPARKLETOTS

Mrs Teo said that Ellyssa researched and learnt about shadow sensors and worked hard to incorporate them into her invention.

"From Ellyssa, we observe resourcefulness, resilience and a determination to excel - all important traits that our centres strive to inculcate in our children. Very impressive for a six-year-old indeed," she added.

Ellyssa’s mother, Madam Lina Chin, said that the Stemie lessons provide children with an environment to think outside the box and learn useful skills like problem-solving.

“At their age, they are very inquisitive, and having Stemie at this period is useful for them to learn how to problem-solve, and it is a very useful life skill,” said the 43-year-old senior financial analyst.

Madam Chin said that her daughter is always excited to share updates about her project.

“She would tell me, 'Mummy, I managed to get the sensors working today!' and I can see her excitement and how she enjoys the whole process. She even sacrificed her playtime to work on her Stemie project.”

Another invention came from Devindra Singh, also six years old, from PCF Sparkletots @ Sengkang North Blk 292B, who came up with a lock box to keep delivery parcels safe when packages are delivered while no one is at home.

Devindra Singh, also six, devised a lock box that can be installed outside homes to keep delivery parcels safe when no one is home. PHOTO: PCF SPARKLETOTS

"From our little ones, we see that when they have the right opportunities to express themselves - and with a little guidance from their teachers - they can amaze us with their creativity," Mrs Teo said.

Ms Angela Yang, deputy director of professional and education development at PCF, said that the Future-Ready Fair provides a good opportunity for children to showcase their hard work and creativity.

"It is also a good avenue for children from different centres to come together to share their ideas and to learn from one another. We also hope this will help to boost our children's confidence as they present their ideas to members of the public," she added.

The public can visit the official microsite here or through its Facebook page until March to view more of the students' inventions.

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