Although Chemistry is a subject that students only get to choose as a pure science elective at upper secondary level, but it has already been incorporated into a student’s education as part of the general science syllabus at primary and lower secondary level. And that is not without good reason, the abstract concepts are difficult to relate to real life instances. However, Chemistry is critical as one of the core foundation subjects in the education of our children.
The purpose is to slowly introduce Chemistry as part of the broader scope so that students do not get confused early on should the different sciences be split up. The reason behind this move by our Ministry of Education is because Chemistry as a subject is difficult to comprehend due to the many intricate chemical formulas and expressions involved. However, it is important to note that a lot of focus has been placed on Chemistry itself and that has led to students performing well in this arena in terms of innovation and competitions held at the global stage.
Mastery of a Chemistry Topic
The success of our students in performing so well in Chemistry boils down to the approach that our schools have adopted. The Chemistry school syllabus is designed to have students attained mastery in the current topic before the next topic which is slightly more difficult gets introduced in class. This approach of learning helps students to achieve a good foundation of newly introduced concepts before more gets added on. As Chemistry is a subject where topics are all related to one another, the learning approach is even more effective since there is no need to reteach the fundamentals again after students have shown that they have understood them fully. This also avoids confusion and backlog of topics for students to have to catch up to in school.
Furthermore, the Chemistry syllabus is designed to be spread out across 2 years in secondary school and 2 years at the JC level so that students do not feel overwhelmed by the amount of information and content that they need to grapple with during the school terms. This provides ample time and practice for students to understand concepts, rather than just rely purely on memory work to power through their study of Chemistry.
The Chemistry school syllabus is also constantly undergoing revision in order to suit the learning needs of our students, making it one of the subjects that are student-centric. Although there is acknowledgement that not all students can absorb and master the different Chemistry topics at the same rate, this constant review of syllabus does help to alleviate the problem since it is catered to the large majority of the student population in Singapore.
Besides that, Chemistry tuition has also been on the rise over the years as students find it useful to supplement their learning of Chemistry. This helps to bridge the gap for the weaker students as some of them may fall through the cracks in terms of catching up and mastering the different Chemistry topics. This also explains why our student population in general is able to maintain such a high standard in Chemistry.
The Visualisation Approach Towards Chemistry
The success story of our Chemistry students is also possible because of the heavy use of visualisation techniques during the teaching of the subject in schools. Rather than just learning from textbooks, school teachers have also been taught to introduce certain Chemistry concepts whenever possible through the use of everyday items, such as paper clips and plastic bags, since any man-made items are produced based on chemical reactions and processes. This helps to open the eyes of Singapore students to how relatable Chemistry really is in our everyday lives and inspire their education of the subject.
A New Approach When Studying for Chemistry
With the technology becoming more widespread, schools in Singapore are also becoming innovative in that aspect. Comparing how Chemistry was taught a few decades ago and the current approach, one can only imagine how different it must be for students. A lot of interactive 3D modelling diagrams and videos as well as fun experiments that common people like you and me can engage in have been incorporated and that really changes the way Chemistry has been taught nowadays. It may not always necessarily be the best approach of learning Chemistry but it is definitely one of the better outcomes of getting students interested in the subject itself compared to just textbook-based learning which gets dry very fast.
Chemistry tuition has also evolved together with the times, where the focus is both to help students develop a good foundation in the subject and to incorporate elements of fun and enjoyment into the learning of Chemistry. At The Chemistry Lab, our main approach is to help students relate the subject to real life applications and we also use many modelling and visual aids in our teaching of the subject. Getting students to fall in love with the subject is something that we aspire to achieve and we will continue to uphold that motto of ours now and in the future.