Squeals of laughter from young children were heard throughout the grounds of INTI International University (IIU) in Nilai recently when 190 primary school students from 13 schools in Negeri Sembilan were taken to the campus to discover fun and exciting ways to learn English and Science.
In doing their bid for their community, students and faculty members from IIU’s Centre of Liberal Arts and Languages (COLAL) and the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences (FHLS) organised an event titled “Edventure 3.0: The Edventure of Aladdin”. The one-day programme incorporated the fabled story of Aladdin into a mini ‘theme park’ for these primary school students as they engaged in various games and activities, chaperoned by students from IIU. There were eight ‘attractions’ with four different themes at the ‘park’ titled “Open Sesame”, “Genie in the Bottle”, “Arabian Nights” and “A Fun Day at the Souq”. At each of these attractions, the primary school students had to work as a team to solve the various challenges and were encouraged to interact only in English – as a means of encouraging them to develop their communication skills.
After completing these activities at the ‘theme park’, the primary school students participated in a UPSR-based Science game to help them gain a better understanding of their UPSR Science subject. There were hands-on experiments on acids, alkalis and electrostatic forces, as well as mind mapping techniques on the eclipse, food chain, energy pyramid, and levers, all of which provided them with the tools to study efficiently.
Associate Professor Phawani A. Vijayaratnam, Director of COLAL shared, “The primary schools were told to select underprivileged students to take part in the event as they are often the students who are in most need of guidance and support. For many of them, this was their first visit to a university campus, and we wanted to show them that working hard in building up their education was the key to success. Beyond the fun and enjoyment they experienced in a new environment, today’s activities aimed to enable these children to learn creative thinking skills and team work, as well as build on their emotional intelligence and communication skills that are critical competencies they will need in the future.
“We also wanted our INTI students to learn to give back to society by mentoring these young children and motivate them to do well in their studies and hopefully complete their tertiary education – an essential requirement for many of the employers they will meet in the future. In doing so, we hoped that our students would be imbued with a strong sense of community spirit, and to recognise the need to not only become successful professionals but to be useful citizens in the future.”
Sharing why English Language and Science subjects were chosen specifically, Phawani explained that these two subjects are closely interrelated with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), and as most leading STEM resources are often in English, by giving these children the confidence to use the language, they would be motivated to pick up educational resources on the topic of STEM.
Professor Dr Wong Ling Shing, Dean of FHLS concluded, “The Ministry of Education instituted the 60:40 Science/Technical: Arts policy as the Ministry’s target for the ratio of students with significant STEM education compared to the current focus on Business and Arts. This policy target has been difficult to achieve due to various factors, including the need for an interest in STEM subjects to be cultivated as early as possible. This event has been an opportunity to do just that and we hope these children will be motivated to do well and contribute to Malaysia’s success in the future. We wish them all the best in their studies.”