Coding is the language of the future. At Amazon, STEM education has been and continues to be a key focus. We are constantly looking at ways to promote science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) education and skills in the communities we work in, and Singapore is no exception.
We are focused on building long-term and innovative programs that have a lasting, positive impact in towns and cities around the world. To support children and young adults, especially those from underrepresented and underserved communities, with the resources and skills they need to build their best future, we introduced a STEM pilot programme in 2020.
Working with Science Centre Singapore, Amazon Singapore offered students between Primary 4 and Secondary 3, who were part of the Youth Science Ambassadors (YSA) programme, access to free STEM courses to spur their learning journey and expand their STEM knowledge. This worked in tandem with the home-based learning system that was introduced to support the pandemic situation. The YSA programme was launched in 2019 by Science Centre Singapore to empower young Singaporeans to leverage skills in STEM and create solutions to alleviate some of the community’s challenges. The projects by the youths in 2020’s programme will see further development by community partners, with the view to permanent implementation for the long-term empowerment of beneficiaries.
Associate Professor Lim Tit Meng, Chief Executive, Science Centre Board, said, “The impact of STEM is at its greatest when we apply scientific knowledge for the betterment of lives, and there’s no better place to start than in our own neighbourhoods, with the people closest to us. It is a privilege to partner with Temasek Foundation and Amazon Web Services to allay the concerns of our community partners and the individuals that they support, through new and innovative ideas developed by bright and brilliant young minds. Our mission at the Science Centre has always been to nurture generations of critical thinkers and tinkers, and we are proud that the Think Big, Youth Science Ambassador Programme is actively enabling our youth in Singapore to use STEM to make a real difference in their community.”
In addition to making STEM courses free and available for the Youth Science Ambassadors, Amazon Singapore also recognised the efforts of the top 10 students from the 2020 YSA programme, awarding them the Amazon Future Engineer Bursary Awards.
“After winning the Amazon Future Engineer Bursary Award, I was on cloud nine and I was proud of myself. I am aware that there are many other aspects of STEM that I have not been introduced to yet therefore I look forward to developing my learning in STEM in other ways.” - Commanadur Srinivasan Adarsh, a secondary 3 student from Swiss Cottage Secondary School.
“During the YSA programme, I enjoyed overcoming the problems that my project had as our idea was never perfect. For example, in the translator game that we designed for the elderly, the game seemed to be too boring and repetitive, and it was not aesthetically captivating. My team took multiple tries just to refine the content of the game and to find the most pleasing colour combination. Despite time constraints, we managed to design the game within an hour! Challenges like these not only enabled me to sharpen my mental toughness but also encouraged me to achieve things that I thought I never could. I also look forward to learning how to be creative and create multiple prototypes within a short time. This would allow me to have a variety of prototypes and to select the best and the most suitable one.”
Lam Ke Xin, a secondary 2 student from the School of Science and Technology is also one of the 10 students to receive the bursary award.
As part of the YSA programme, her group was tasked to keep senior citizens suffering from dementia mentally active. Their solution was a self-contained console that connected directly to a television or projector consisting of various components such as a camera, Raspberry Pi and fans that help cool the system. The augmented reality (AR) games, to be played by the senior citizens, aims to reduce the odds of developing dementia, slow the progressive course of dementia and improve the condition of cognitive issues. It has a single and multiplayer function with a large array of games. By using Scratch, an easy to use block coding tool, Ke Xin and her team created games to engage the community. For example, they included an online multiplayer feature to enable senior citizens to compete amongst themselves as bond activities in the console.
“As an SST student and participant of the programme, STEM is extremely prevalent in my daily life. I believe that STEM is the future and it is remarkably important that STEM education is accessible to all especially the younger generations. STEM is the key to teaching students to think critically and instill a sense of creativity and curiosity and develop natural innovators that are not afraid to challenge limits and passion to improve society,” added Ke Xin.