ExxonMobil-UKM Private & Public Sectors Collaboration To Train Skilled Educators in STEM

Representatives from ExxonMobil, Terengganu State Education Department and members of the media observe one of the exercises carried out under the teacher training programme to apply STEM skills in the classroom. Representatives from ExxonMobil, Terengganu State Education Department and members of the media observe one of the exercises carried out under the teacher training programme to apply STEM skills in the classroom.

In a joint effort to address the declining interest among students in science and mathematics, the ExxonMobil Subsidiaries in Malaysia in collaboration with Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) have introduced a training programme under the ExxonMobil-UKM STEM Club @ Terengganu initiative.

The training aims to equip teachers in secondary schools with a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) approach to teaching science and maths syllabus in schools to drive students' interest, participation, understanding and appreciation of STEM subjects.

A proponent of STEM-centred educational programmes for students, ExxonMobil is widening its focus to support a more holistic and inclusive approach towards STEM education. ExxonMobil believes that Malaysia's global economic growth hinges upon highly-skilled teachers to encourage active learning from students and increase the quality of education.

This view is aligned with the MOE's ongoing efforts to create a pipeline of trained teachers and other education specialists in Malaysia, as set out in the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013 – 2025.

"ExxonMobil is proud to play a role in incorporating teacher-focused programmes to bring renewed vigour to teaching STEM subjects, as it will allow educators to deliver the syllabus more effectively and efficiently by equipping teachers with new abilities and teaching skills," said Sukiman Mohamed, General Manager, Public and Government Affairs, ExxonMobil Subsidiaries in Malaysia.

"Teachers are a key driving force behind students' academic performance, and they have the potential to create motivation, interest, and excitement in pupils and attract them to STEM."

"We hope this initiative will contribute towards the effort to increase the number of students in the science stream, as Malaysia looks toward achieving a STEM-driven economy in the near future," he added.

Sukiman Mohamed, General Manager of Public and Government Affairs, ExxonMobil Subsidiaries in Malaysia

The ExxonMobil-UKM STEM Club @ Terengganu overall programme objective is to develop a group of STEM Master Trainers with training modules developed and delivered by UKM. The key goals are to enhance teachers pedagogical techniques, to increase teachers' content knowledge, and to build teachers knowledge to be more innovative, creative and competitive in the 21st century teaching and learning.

Participants of the training programme held in October comprise 64 secondary school teachers from eight districts in the state. Currently in its first phase, the trainees will undergo STEM Pedagogical Training and Building of STEM Content Knowledge in four main STEM Modules such as Energy, Urban Infrastructure, Transportation, Wireless Communication, as well as developing a STEM Execution Strategic Planning for Terengganu.

"As a developing nation rich with biodiversity and resources, STEM plays a key role in ensuring sustainable solutions to meet increasing local and global demands," said programme leader, Dr Mohamad Sattar Rasul.

"By training teachers to become STEM Master Trainers, we are able to make STEM more relatable and digestible for students, and subsequently increase the uptake of Science and Maths subjects in schools," added Dr Mohamad Satar, a senior lecturer in the Department of Innovation in Teaching and Learning, Faculty of Education, UKM in the field of specialization TVET.

He was also appointed as a coordinator of STEM at the university level. In addition, he is a member of the Asian Academic Society for Vocational Education and Training (AASVET) as well as the editor of the Journal of Asian Academic Society for Vocational Education and Training (JAVET).

Dr Mohamad Sattar Rasul.

Dr Mohamad Sattar further explained that the second phase of the initiative will see the participants applying their newly gained teaching methods and STEM knowledge in a classroom, with eight trainees assisted by eight facilitators assigned to 60 lower secondary school students in each district.

The third phase concludes the initial Master Trainer development effort with newly qualified STEM Master Trainers training future Master Trainers at district level, supported and mentored by experts from UKM.

Development programmes for STEM educators in Malaysia

To encourage and cultivate a greater interest in STEM subjects among students, ExxonMobil is broadening it support for STEM initiatives to include the area of STEM teacher training and development. This more inclusive approach marks a shift in improving the quality of teaching in STEM subjects by equipping teachers with new abilities and teaching skills to promote more active participation from students.

Getting more students interested in STEM will subsequently increase the number of students in the science stream, with a targeted 60:40 ratio of science to non-science students, as Malaysia looks toward achieving a STEM-driven economy by 2020.

ExxonMobil-UKM STEM Club

The ExxonMobil-UKM STEM Club programme was first launched in 2015 to promote interest in STEM among lower secondary students in Klang Valley, and to encourage them to enter the science stream when they enter upper secondary level.

64 secondary Mathematics and Science school teachers from eight districts in Terengganu participated in the ExxonMobil-UKM STEM Club @ Terengganu.

In 2016, ExxonMobil alongside with UKM and the MOE have joined hands in the implementation of the ExxonMobil-UKM STEM Club. The programme involved 75 UKM facilitators and 340 Form 1 to Form 4 students from 10 schools; and placed an emphasis on understanding and applying the four main STEM Modules and an additional module - Crystal.

In 2017, ExxonMobil arranged to bring the programme to Terengganu as a pilot project to train 32 math and science teachers from secondary schools in eight districts as STEM master trainers to promote the teaching of math and science in the classroom using the STEM integrated approach. The approach refers to the integration of the STEM elements in teaching, Inquiry Based Science Education (IBSE), and making hypotheses through project orientation. The training modules and content are developed and delivered by UKM.

Inquiry Based Science Education (IBSE)

ExxonMobil, in partnership with the Academy of Sciences Malaysia (ASM), have introduced an IBSE workshop at national level for teachers from all across Malaysia in conjunction with the 2017 National Science Challenge (NSC). The three-day workshop was led by International Science, Technology and Innovation Centre (ISTIC) who developed the module.

IBSE has been recognized as an effective method of teaching science, with an approach developed by the French Academy of Sciences in 1996. The module emphasizes shifting the role of teachers from instructors to facilitators and emphasizes raising pupils' curiosity, creativity and reasoning by including them in the investigative and discovery process through experimentation. It emphasizes the involvement of active learners in the learning process.

IBSE represents the next paradigm shift in the teaching and learning of science, and has the potential to create motivation, interest, and excitement in pupils and attract them to STEM.

A two-year pilot project on IBSE was conducted in 2013 to 2014 by ASM with four schools in Klang Valley have shown a very positive results. All schools demonstrated improved performance in the 2014 UPSR examination for science paper by students who were taught under the IBSE method in comparison to students who were not during that period.

Following the success, ASM, ISTIC and ExxonMobil, decided to incorporate the IBSE programme in the 2017 NSC agenda to introduce the method to more teachers.

National Science Challenge (NSC)

The annual NSC mission is to build and retain a highly skilled and trained local workforce in STEM by promoting greater interest in that subjects among students. ExxonMobil has been supporting the NSC since 2012, with a cumulative contribution of more than RM1.8 million.

CHAMPIONS - Kolej Yayasan Saad’s Muhammad Mukhriz Mokhtar (left) and Aarif Wafeeq Baharozaman (second from right) with Edward Graham, Wilfred, and Datuk Seri Dr Azhar Hj Yahya, Secretary General of MOSTI (far right).

This year marks the 29th run of the competition, with 11,790 students from 3,930 teams participating from all around Malaysia to compete for the title of Grand Champion; and the first time IBSE workshops were held at national level for 20 secondary math and science teachers from across the country.

The Grand Final of the competition was held over a seven-day period as a residential science camp at UKM, culminating in the Grand Final Quiz. The residential camp programme also included a talk about application of STEM and career opportunities in the oil and gas industry, to motivate and inspire students to pursue STEM careers.

Finally, from almost 4,000 team participated, four emerged victorious as some of Malaysia's most brilliant students competed for the title of Champion at the grand final of the NSC 2017.

In the Grand Final Quiz, the four top-scoring teams took part in an interactive quiz in the subjects of Maths, Chemistry, Biology and Physics, followed by a series of questions based on video clips to test their STEM knowledge application skills.

The champions were presented with the grand prize of the Prime Minister's Challenge Trophy, as well as an exclusive one-week study visit to Stockholm, Sweden which allows them and their mentor teacher a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to attend and observe the prestigious international Nobel Prize Awards ceremony and Nobel Lectures.

Second, third and fourth-placed teams as well as the top individual scorer during the initial stage of the Challenge (online quiz) will participate in the by-invitation-only Sakura Science Programme in Tokyo, Japan, held annually in May. The programme invites young scientists in Asia to expand their knowledge of science and technology while encouraging the active exchange of ideas and opinions in a multi-lateral environment.

The prize-giving ceremony was officiated by Datuk Seri Panglima Wilfred Madius Tangau, Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) and witnessed by Tengku Datuk Dr Mohd Azzman Shariffadeen Tengku Ibrahim, FASc Vice President, ASM, and Edward Graham, Chairman of ExxonMobil Subsidiaries in Malaysia.

Wilfred and the dignitaries with all the four top-scoring-team in August 2017 NSC Grand Final (front row from left to right) SMK Subang Utama (2nd place), Kolej Yayasan Saad (Champion), SMJK Perempuan China Pulau Pinang (3rd), Kolej Tunku Kurshiah (4th).

"ExxonMobil supports a variety of STEM-focused educational programmes, as we believe that the future will be driven by the youth of today, who will become the world's STEM leaders of tomorrow."

"Competitions like the NSC help spur young minds to think critically and analytically and unlock their hidden STEM potential," said Graham.

Meanwhile Professor Yang Farina Abdul Aziz FASc, Chair, National Science Challenge Steering Committee, ASM said "On behalf of the ASM, we would like to thank ExxonMobil for their continued support of the NSC."

"The programme has been well-received since its inception, and we have seen a positive increase in the number of applicants year-on-year," she said.