Science Mentorship Programme
The Science Mentorship Programme (SMP) was a very memorable experience for us, which gave us an insight into conducting research and helped us develop a deeper understanding in science. Using this knowledge, we were able to appreciate the world around us. Though we were faced with many challenges over the course of this journey, we learnt many valuable skills such as collaboration, critical thinking, problem solving and of course, research skills. Most importantly, we learnt how to be resilient. When our projects did not go according to our plans, we had to adapt and think on our feet to change them.
"My team faced a rather large issue at the start of our experimentation. Our project, titled “The Physics of Acoustic Levitation”, depended heavily on the suspension of styrofoam beads in mid-air using the pressure nodes of sound waves. But we quickly realised that getting the set-up to work, and work for a long enough period of time for us to do actual experiments, was no easy feat. This was especially because we had used an Arduino circuit, which would be more accessible application-wise. Thus, during the two-week attachment during the November holidays, we adapted our set-up and powered it with the more stable signal generator instead. With that change, we were able to conduct the rest of our experiments well and obtain useful results!"
- Adele, Year 4
As our research process came to a close, the fruits of our labour were produced in the form of a full research paper, complete with an abstract, literature review, methodology, results and analysis. However, that was not the end of our SMP journey. At the end of every SMP cycle, one of the two culminating events is the QnA and Feedback session, also known as the project judging. Expert judges in Singapore provided us with invaluable feedback and probed us to think critically about our projects and our scientific method. We also learned from the other schools’ teams as well and this mirrored the science community that scientists and researchers often collaborate in to share expertise and experiences for the betterment of society.
The two of us were also given the opportunity to emcee the 26th annual Youth Science Conference-cum-2021 SMP Launch, held over Zoom to all the participants of the 2020 and 2021 SMP. We got to see first-hand the behind-the-scenes work of organising such a huge online event. It was an eye-opening and enriching experience to be able to interact with the organisers of SMP!
All SMP teams from the Raffles family also took part in the annual Raffles Science Symposium, which was part of the preparation for Singapore Science and Engineering Fair (SSEF). It helped us showcase our projects and gain valuable feedback on how we could improve our projects. Our groups put in much effort to prepare for all 3 events.
"My group’s experiment was titled “Investigating methods of producing bioplastics using fruit waste and its physical properties with different amounts of HCl.” The project was very interesting as we got to learn more about biochemistry and learnt how to produce plastics using the starch of jackfruit seeds. It also required quite a lot of patience as we had to leave the plastic for a few days to harden before being able to carry out the rest of the experiments as well as leaving the filtration set up for a few days so that we could obtain completely dry starch powder to make the bioplastics. At the start, we definitely faced quite a lot of challenges in making the plastic as it simply would not harden and would remain a thick liquid. We had to improvise many times and change our methodology accordingly so that it would work. We learnt to build resilience and persevere, necessary traits in science research!"
- Adeena, Year 4
We had to come up with our research paper, develop our own methodology, ascertaining which method worked in our experiment and which did not, and analysing our results. We also had to know our research well in order to field questions about it during the judging process. In addition to that, to prepare for SSEF, we had to prepare additional materials like a Quad Chart, Project Presentation and a 2-minute “elevator pitch” video, briefly explaining our project to the general public. It was a really fun experience making these presentation materials, especially the elevator pitch video! It was one of the rare moments where Science meets Art!