November 21, 2022, by Lee Mei Kee
Outreach Talk in SMJK Hwa Lian, Mentakab, Pahang
This article is written by Siew Zhen Yun, Biomedical Sciences graduate and is currently a postgraduate researcher at UNM.
SMJK Hwa Lian, Mentakab is my alma mater, a place where fond memories and dreams are formed. Many things changed, some of my beloved teachers left, some classrooms and offices relocated due to the flood early this year, but my love towards this place will never change.
5 years after graduating from the school, I returned to SMJK Hwa Lian as a super-senior to introduce the School of Pharmacy, University of Nottingham Malaysia to science stream students there. Our audience consisted of form 3 students, and all form 4 and 5 students (about 300-400 students). The topic I presented was “Welcome to the World of Science and Discovery”. I introduced, discussed and compared courses available under the School of Pharmacy to the students as well as briefly mentioned other courses offered in UNM which they may be interested in.
There seems to be a misconception among young students these days. Most of the students believed that by studying Biology or biology-related subjects, the only career path was to become a medical practitioner (medical doctor/dentist). This is one of the reasons why I was invited to give a talk, shedding light on what a scientist (biologist, chemist …) do as a career. I also played 3 videos during the talk. The first video was an introductory video of UNM, the second video which was planned, designed and directed by me (obviously, with the help of staff from block C) was a video about what is life like as a researcher and the third video was about student’s life in UNM. The students enjoyed the videos very much, especially the second and third videos. Moreover, we actively engaged the audience throughout the presentation. Gifts were given to students that provide an answer or a well-thought-out response to the questions that was asked to the audience. It was a good strategy for me to interact with the students by inserting Q & A sessions (with gifts as reward) into my talk. Most students were involved as there were some healthy competition going on among the audience. Surprisingly, I noticed there are certain students who possess great potentials. For example, one of the form 3 students could actually speak out about what cancer is and outline the hallmarks of cancer. This was something really beyond my expectation. I was really glad that a few students approached me and told me about how they wish to become a researcher or scientist like me in the future.
Realistically, I realised that students paid more attention to the video when the actor or actress is a young and beautiful/ handsome person. Perhaps this is how we can attract young students to join the sciences and should be considered as one of the most important element for marketing the not-so-sexy science as well.
Overall, I will conclude this talk with a few adjectives: successful, interactive, interesting, inspiring and memorable.