There is certainly no question that STEM education and  STEM skills are the vital part of Malaysia’s edge, but many educators would argue that STEM is missing a key set of creativity-related components which are equally critical to fostering a competitive and innovative workforce, and those skills are summarized under the letter “A” for Arts.

The arts are basic to the human experience.  Many scientists, mathematicians, and engineers know that the arts are vital to their success, and they use skills borrowed from the arts as scientific tools. These include the ability to draw on curiosity, observe accurately, think spatially, work effectively with others, perceive an object in a different form, construct meaning and express one’s observations accurately and perceive kinesthetically.

Some of the teaching strategies can then be used to embed computational thinking in STEAM education one of which is the Scratchtopia Challenge. The Scratchtopia Challenge was organised through the Computational Thinking Knowledge Transfer Program, lead by Dr. Corrienna Abdul Talib and her team from the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities (FSSH) to facilitate computational thinking (CT) learning for students from various schools in Malaysia.

It was fully funded by a Knowledge Transfer Program-Networking Matching Grant (UTM KTP-NMG) 2019,  in collaboration with Digi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd. and the Johor State Education Department had successfully established its 1st Scratchtopia Challenge in Johor with the objectives to increase problem-solving skills through computational thinking, self-confidence, motivation and academic achievement in 2019.

The effectiveness of the program and its impact on the community were closely monitored.  Following this, Dr. Corrienna gained international recognition through SEAMEO @STEM education. ‘LearnT-SMArET through championing the use of digital tools and e-platforms in an on-line course coordinated by Dr. Ng Khar Thoe, R&D Specialist from SEAMEO RECSAM. Her online session was titled “Introduction to Computational Thinking” on November 6, 2019, conducted through a flipped classroom flexible learning mode to promote self-paced, self-directed, and self-accessed learning.

The team’s effort was highly recognized when the CT project received the  5-star rating on January 16, 2020.   The project was also relevant because their effort addressed the STEM education global issues as it inculcates STEM interest in students. Positive feedback from the teachers, parents, students were very encouraging. The picture below listed the winner of the star rating for FSSH.

As this is an ongoing project, the team will continue to collect and analyze all related data for publication purposes in the future. In the year 2019, an article based on this program was published in the Scopus publication, Students’ Chemistry Learning Process Through Visual Programming Language: A Preliminary Study. Being the first of its kind and as an ongoing project, the Scratchtopia challenge will be held in the Science and Mathematics Festival organised by the Association of Science and Mathematics Education Johor in November 2020. For participation kindly email to corrienna@utm.my.

 

 

Authored by Dr. Corrienna Abdul Talib and Dr. Rainer Zawadzki.