Applied Learning Programme
The HPPS Science curriculum, also known as Science for Life @ HPPS, infuses STEM Applied Learning (STEM ALP) and Inquiry-based learning (IBL) in the teaching and learning of Science.
In accordance with our school’s mission, of ‘Nurturing concerned citizens with integrity and a spirit of excellence through holistic education’ and vision ‘Lead with Character, Serve with Talents’, we seek to provide an experience and raise environmental awareness that enhances 21st Century Competencies (21CC) through IBL.
Inquiry-based Learning (IBL)
IBL is a student-centred learning process based on John Dewey’s learning theory of constructivism. In HPPS, we use the constructivist approach for concept development.
Our approach to the learning of Science at HPPS is as follows.
- Use of hands-on activities to develop concepts as students make connections with their surroundings
- Carrying out inquiry-based activities in and out of the classroom that teaches our students skills through creative problem solving, decision-making and investigation processes
- Providing opportunities to apply concepts in varied contexts through authentic outdoor learning, use of ICT, self-directed as well as collaborative learning experiences
The skills and attitudes we hope to nurture in our students through the Science curriculum is aligned to our Learning Framework. Developing innovation and talent are also included in the Science curriculum, giving our students the opportunity to showcase their creativity and aptitude for Science, through our school-based programmes.
Learning experiences also aim to inculcate ethics and attitudes such as, Curiosity, Creativity, Integrity, Objectivity, Open-mindedness, Perseverance and Responsibility, in our students.
These skills, ethics and attitudes are in line with the 21CC, such as Civic Literacy, Global Awareness and Cross-cultural Skills, Critical and Inventive Thinking, and Information and Communication Skills in order to realise our vision of seeing our students growing up to become confident people who are self-directed learners, concerned citizens and active contributors to the nation.
STEM ALP Objectives
- To provide authentic learning experiences to connect Science concepts to real life applications and develop students’ creative and critical thinking skills
- To promote deeper awareness of environmental stewardship that enhances 21CC through enriched outdoor learning experiences using IBL
- To nurture the joy of learning by making Science more fun and relevant, promoting lifelong learning
In our approach towards building a passion for Science, learning opportunities are provided for all students. Further specialized training and development is provided for students who show strong interest and aptitude in Science.
Tier One: Learning Opportunities for all students
We are committed to help all our students develop a life-long interest in the learning of Science through a standards-based curriculum that includes inquiry, investigation and experimentation.
Some of the key programmes under Tier One are as follows.
a) Junior Science (JS)
The JS programme taps on the natural curiosity and interest of the Primary 1 and 2 students, to further develop their Science skills and concepts. It is mainly integrated into the Primary 1 and 2 curriculum.
b) Fun with Variables
The Fun with Variables lesson package is an enrichment lesson for all Primary 3 students. The package is developed to teach basic process skills related to scientific investigation.
c) Young Investigators’ Project (YIP)
IBL is greatly enhanced by our signature YI programme carried out in Primary 4 and 5. It is conducted yearly over a period of five weeks. The Fun with Variables lessons carried out in Primary 3, prepare the students for the YI programme. This helps to hone leadership and collaborative skills amongst the students. The project helps students to learn and practise critical thinking, inquiry and investigative skills. It helps to foster imagination and creative thought. They learn to work with others as a team, learn discipline in project management and organisational skills. These are essential skills that students need to develop to succeed in life.
d) Toy Making
Toy making allows the Primary 6 students to learn the concepts of energy and forces concepts through the making of a toy car and to see which car moves the furthest.
e) Outdoor Learning / Learning Journeys
Outdoor learning is one platform that we have explored using the approaches mentioned earlier. Through ALP, we have created different platforms that allow students to explore and actively seek solutions and ask new questions. Hence, the designing and setting up of different learning environments around the school.
Lessons conducted at learning niches around the school, such as the Fern Garden and the Terrarium, taking the learning of Science beyond the classrooms.
Tier Two: Specialised training for students who show passion and interest in Science
The objective of having enrichment programmes and specialised training is to ensure that our passionate and high progress learners are stretched to fulfil their potential. Thus, higher order thinking skills and advanced science concepts are, to some extent, infused in these activities. This would ensure that our high progress learners are adequately challenged to sustain their enthusiasm for learning Science.
Some of the key programmes under Tier Two are as follows.
a) Excellence 2000 (E2K)
E2K, for Primary 4 and 5 mainstream students, seeks to engage high progress learners in scientific investigations involving more advanced Science concepts. They foster independence in scientific inquiry in students as well as other important 21CC such as resilience & resourcefulness, critical & inventive thinking, & effective communication skills. Lessons covered are either based on Physical or Life Sciences.
b) Junior Da Vinci, Nobel and MCurie2 Science Workshops by NUS High School
Primary 5 students are selected to participate in the Junior Da Vinci Programme by NUS High School. This programme helps to foster collaboration between the teachers of both schools, providing opportunities to explore different ways to nurture and develop our students’ competencies in the learning of Science especially with respect to 21CC.
c) Annual W1 Cluster Young Investigators’ Science Challenge
Talented Primary 5 students who have carried out outstanding Science investigations during our YI programme take part in this competition that is conducted at the cluster level.
d) Life Science Enrichment Workshop
Some Primary 5 and 6 students were selected to attend a DNA Extraction Enrichment Workshop conducted by a professional whom we are collaborating with. This workshop allows students to explore different aspects of Life Science.
e) Robotics and STEM Training
Selected Science Club members attended the enrichment programme in Electronics, which was part of our efforts to infuse STEM into our primary curriculum. Students learnt how to build simple gadgets during the programme.
Tier Three: Opportunities to lead and drive school-wide initiatives
Students who show that they have the aptitude to lead their peers, who add value by taking initiatives and are exemplary in their character, are selected to be groomed to be Environmental Leaders.
Some of the key programmes under Tier Three are as follows.
a) Exploring current environmental issues
Students keep abreast with current environmental situations around the world and suggest ways to educate the school community and lead a team on self-initiated projects.
b) Food waste management
Students are involved in the school-wide food waste management initiative and propose ways in which the school community can play an active role in reducing food waste.
c) Creating awareness about e-waste
Students explore ways in which awareness about e-waste and the problems posed by it can be effectively communicated to the school community.
The Science curriculum at HPPS adopts the pedagogy of IBL in the teaching of Science. The premise is that students participate actively in learning. Other pedagogies infused in learning includes: Constructivist, Integrative and Collaborative approaches to learning.
Active learning through inquiry takes place when students,
- take ownership of the initial question
- conduct individual experimentation
- strive for the outcome they want to see
- are able to access the needed information easily by knowing what it is that they are looking for
- are able to communicate their learning with other children through speaking and writing
Through active learning, our students learn better, as the questions they ask help them comprehend and synthesize knowledge.
With the above mentioned as guiding principles, HPPS capitalises on the following strategies to ensure that IBL is carried out holistically.
In our day-to-day teaching of Science, our teachers focus on asking questions as well as encouraging students to ask relevant questions. Questioning strategy allows for a high degree of student participation as a good mix of low and high level cognitive questions are used. Hence, student understanding is increased which in turn stimulates, directs and extends student critical thinking skills. It also allows for feedback and appropriate reinforcement by the teacher as well as the peers.
During our outdoor lessons, for example, students use their observations skills to make inferences. Students, then, ask relevant questions and take responsibility for searching for explanations on their own. This approach paves way for the development of confident learners.
b) Self-Directed Learning (SDL)
Through SDL, the teaching and learning conditions targeted to meet the needs of our students are established. Here, students take initiatives, set their own goals for learning and follow personal instructional and planning strategies. This is evident in our YI programme, Fun with Variables lesson and E2K programmes.
SDL, also allows for the curriculum to be adjusted to the students’ needs, so that they evolve their own pace and take initiatives for their learning. These characteristics motivate students to be more engaged in their learning and be more responsible in improving their performance and social behaviour.
Improved work behaviour also enables them to work and communicate effectively with their peers when working on Science investigations in groups.
c) Cooperative Learning (CoL)
CoL is a well-researched instructional strategy that has been reported to be highly successful in the classroom. It provides students with the tools to effectively work in a collaborative environment. Many of our Science investigations in the classroom provide opportunities for group work. During YIP, ICT is infused to enable our students to discuss about their projects online. With such structures in place, students are provided with a well-defined framework to learn from each other. This strategy emphasizes on team approach where the success of the group depends on the cooperation of each and every member. Through such collaborative projects, students learn to be more sensitive to their peers, manage their opinions and emotions and show care and concern for others’ ideas and feelings.
d) Problem Based Learning (PBL)
PBL focuses on knowing and understanding issues, considering all possible factors, brainstorming for options and eventually deciding on the best solution. As all ideas are initially accepted, problem solving allows for students to find the best possible solution as opposed to the easiest solution or the first solution proposed.
In our E2K programme, students are given opportunities to study real-life problems and exercise creativity in developing a scientific solution to the problem. Hence, this allows students to think both creatively and critically about a problem without applying their own pre-conceived ideas. Defining what the problem is rather than looking at the cause of the problem, prevents premature judgement. Similarly, clarifying what an acceptable solution is before generating them, prevents pre-conceptions from driving solutions. Here, students are also searching for relevant information to evaluate the options before deciding on the best solution. Student competencies in information searching and decision making are raised.
Moving Forward - HPPS as a Green School
Having infused applied learning into our Science curriculum, we are now working to be recognised as a Green School.
Hence, Green School Initiatives such as infusing environmental education into the curriculum, creating more green spaces around the school through enriched outdoor learning, commemorating important environmental events such as World Water Day and Earth Day and looking into reducing food wastage, etc.
Mr Mubaraq Ali
Head of Department, Science