Incubating young innovators

February 25, 2018

Hong Kong students are now getting the chance to become the next Elon Musk.


The Education Bureau has set up the STEM Education Centre to promote scientific research and the development of innovation and technology in Hong Kong.


It provides schools with more comprehensive support services on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education.


The centre has advanced equipment and tools, workshops for teachers, and activities and competitions for students.


Amphibious assault

Sir Ellis Kadoorie Secondary School (West Kowloon) students recently visited the facility to design their own mini hovercraft and make them with 3D printers.


A competition was held to see which of their creations could carry the most weight and travel the furthest.


The winner, Form 2 student Philippe Edward Cereno Galang, said his hovercraft exceeded expectations.


"I was actually nervous about the competition because I was thinking that once I put 400g here it's too heavy. But it turned out the result is I won."


The competition inspired the students' drive to create.


Form 6 student Singh Har Shwinder said the competition also taught him about perseverance.


"I think the main thing today is I learn how I failed and next time I do it I will do a better design and do it again.


"I think that's how science works and how life should work too. Keep trying, never give up."


A new dimension

A month before the students started classes at the STEM centre their teacher Andes Fung underwent training in 3D printing.


"I can make use of the things learnt in this centre to adjust what type of 3D printers in the future we need to buy.


"Also this centre can give chances for teachers to book the workshop, place and equipment. So we can solve the problem that we don't have all the resources in our school."


Mr Fung said the students enjoyed their hands-on learning experience and being able to think outside the box.


Innovative idea

The bureau set up the STEM Education Centre in the Arts & Technology Education Centre in Lok Fu in October to promote innovative technology education in schools.


It is equipped with advanced 3D printers, a 3D scanner and a laser cutter.


It has held more than 40 high-tech machinery training workshops for teachers who will teach STEM courses to primary and secondary students.


Shau Kei Wan East Government Secondary School students also visited the centre recently to learn to use a laser cutter to make Kong Ming Locks, a traditional Chinese intellectual toy.


Form 4 student Connie Tsang said they used computer software to draw their designs and then used the laser cutter to cut them out.


"Mine is a rectangular design. The product looks consistent with my design concept. I am happy with my product.


"In the past it took a lot of effort to polish the surface to make it smooth. But now when it is directly cut out from the machine it is smooth already. It is good."


Shau Kei Wan East Government Secondary School teacher Cheung Chung-wai said the laser cutter allows students to finish their work quickly, giving them more time to focus on the design and think of how to make improvements.


He said: "The most important element of STEM is the hands-on work. This centre provides a venue for students to discuss, to develop their ideas, to draw their drafts, to use computers to process their 3D designs and to use advanced equipment to make their products.


"The whole process satisfies the needs of hands-on work. So this centre can support the development of STEM education."


STEM support

The STEM Education Centre is divided into areas for discussion, design, fabrication, and for realisation to support different types of teaching and learning activities.


Arts & Technology Education Centre Principal Eric Chan said the centre will organise more activities for students, including STEM-related competitions, to enhance innovation promotion.


"Before summer vacation, we will organise a large scale interschool STEM competition for all secondary and primary schools in which students can apply their STEM knowledge and skills to solve real-life problems.


"It is also a good chance for them to learn from their peer(s). Students can experience the interest of STEM and develop a good foundation for schools to further promote their school-based STEM education."


Mr Chan welcomed schools to book the centre to give their teachers and students STEM classes.

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