Dealing students “a card of destiny”

Shell Singapore Youth Science Festival (SSYSF), a national event jointly organised by Science Centre Singapore, the Science Teachers’ Association of Singapore and the Shell Companies in Singapore, concluded successfully on Tuesday, 22 May with an exciting Shell Science Fair.

Ever thought that hair could be a source of bio fuel? Or that we can possibly produce Hydrogen fuel from urine? These are just some of the unique and innovative sustainable energy solutions our youths have come up with in this International Year of Sustainable Energy as designated by the United Nations General Assembly! 

Science Centre Singapore's Chief Executive, A/Prof Lim Tit Meng posing with GOH Dr Tan Tin Wee and students from CHIJ St Nicholas Girls' School

Guest-of-Honour, Dr Tan Tin Wee, Associate Professor at the Department of Biochemistry in the National University of Singapore, was himself a Science Fair participant in 1978, then known as the Singapore Youth Science Fortnight. He was conferred the top team leader prize in the pre-U Chemistry section and he and his team won 3rd place in the Biology Section.

Dr Tan remarked, “Since 1969, Shell has had an unbroken record of faithfully sponsoring first the biennial Science Fair, initiated by the Science Teachers Association of Singapore. From 1978, incorporated as a key event of the larger Singapore Youth Science Fortnight jointly organized by STAS and the then newly built Singapore Science Centre on an annual basis, till today’s SSYS Festival that bears the Shell name, Science Fair continues to excite me as I walked the aisle of fantastic exhibits presented by eager young students today.

As one of the young impressionable youths benefitting from the unflagging enthusiasm of our science teachers and the organizational skill of many generations of Science Centre officials, some of whom like Clarence Sirisena, are still working after more than 35 years with the Centre, with support of generous and loyal donor, Shell, I am truly grateful for the opportunity to participate in Science Fair.

Dr Tan viewing a poster presentation

As I thumb through the 35-year old 1978 SYSF brochure which I have managed to preserve through these years, I immediately spot a generation of today’s leaders in Science, Medicine, Engineering and Technology – Peter Ng of the Raffles Museum, Caroline Lee from the National Cancer Centre, Chou Ning and Yeo Tseng Tsai neurosurgeons at NUH, Chan Shih Ping of DSTA, Philip Karuman, clinician scientist PhD from Harvard, Mahesh Choolani, Ong Biauw Chi, clinician scientist, Nicholas Tay, science administrator, Wong WengFai, computer scientist, S Subbiah, biophysicist, Stanford University, Nadya Polunin, Radiologist, Kee Kirk Chin, CEO of a pharmaceutical company, Ma Hui Hsing, technology venture capitalist, Tan Eng Pheng, computer scientist senior director IDA Ong Chong Tee, financial economist at MAS Lim Mun Moon, pharmacist, the list goes on…

Indeed, they, like me, can trace their successful careers to their early exposure and experience with such science events, including the popular and keenly contested Science and Industry Quiz screened annually on TV.

The social impact to Singapore’s scientific and technological progress is truly immense and incalculable. The government through its
pro-science policies implemented through various ministries, including Ministry of Education and the defunct Ministry of Science and Technology, has indeed dealt our generation of students a card of destiny. They would do well to continue driving such policies forward to ensure a continued supply of home-grown talent able to contribute not just to Singapore alone but also to the region and globally.”

Science Centre Singapore warmly thanks Dr Tan Tin Wee for his insightful sharing and hopes to continue deepening its imprint in the lives of students, dealing them “a card of destiny” through events like the Secondary & Pre-University Shell Science Fair 2012, made possible only through the generous partnership with Shell Singapore.

The Shell Science Fair aims to accomplish the following: promote scientific study through investigative-type projects in science and mathematics; encourage the use of creative and innovative methods in problem solving; and heighten students’ awareness and generate their interest in science and mathematics research and technology development.

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