April 20, 2022, by Lee Mei Kee
Virtual STEM Carnival 2022
STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education is largely considered to be the key to meet the demands of constantly evolving job markets, as well as the challenges that emerge with the Fourth Industrial Revolution (IR 4.0). As part of an effort to nurture students’ interests and provide students a platform to explore STEM-related subjects, the University of Nottingham Malaysia’s Faculty of Science & Engineering (FOSE) hosted it’s the Virtual STEM Carnival 2022.
Due to the ongoing pandemic, the event was hosted online from the 14th to 20th of February 2022. The STEM Carnival featured virtual workshops, STEM exploration talks, as well as virtual booths featuring student projects and staff research. One of the notable events, the STEM Exploration talk series, “aims to help students with the question “What should I study after high school?” by sharing possible career choices and highlighting how popular courses may be similar or different,” shared Dr Marina, the organiser of the event.
A total of 514 students from various schools, including secondary school and pre-University students were registered for the event, where they were introduced to a variety of fields in STEM, such as manufacturing, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Cloud-Based Virtual Computer-Aided Engineering, vertical vegetable farming and genetics.
Dr Then Sue-Mian from the Department of Biomedical Sciences was one of the presenters during the STEM Carnival for a workshop called the Gene Detective. “I was excited to host the Gene Detective workshop for the STEM Carnival as our team didn’t have the chance to roll out our e-learning activities to actual students,” shared Dr Then.
The Gene Detective workshop brought participants through a short introduction to DNA, genes, DNA extraction, as well as the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR). The participants were given an opportunity to learn through some short videos, quizzes, and an online e-learning module which involved interactive activities such as a virtual DNA extraction experiment.
Dr Then raised concerns regarding the responses to the virtual workshop, as she was not able to see the participants’ responses through Zoom because most participants kept their cameras switched off. However, she shared that she was glad that the session went well, as feedback from the participants were positive, and they enjoyed the virtual experiment in the Gene Detective session.
The participants showed an interest in the topic of DNA and genes, and many enjoyed the interactive activities included in the session. “I didn’t have that many expectations going into it (wanted to keep an open mind) and it was definitely enjoyable. I loved the engaging quizzes and games. They made it more fun along with helping convey information,” one of the participants commented.
“I hope to conduct similar workshop in future events to promote sciences, especially in relation to DNA, genes and DNA extraction through our virtual experiments,” said Dr Then. Similarly, Dr Marina mentioned that the organizing team was pleased with the outcome, as the responses and feedback on all events were positive. “We might do a physical carnival next year if situation permits,” added Dr Marina. So, for students who missed the event this year, do keep an eye out to participate in the next event!
Article written by Celeste Kok Yee Zhen, Biomedical Sciences Postgraduate Student