A top science student and pals develop an app for high school scientists in-the-making
IT is not complete to learn Science by studying only the theories without interactive experiments in the laboratory. Meaning, with ‘zero practical’ in chemistry, physics and biology, it will be hard to understand practical knowledge. The reality is that in Cambodia, this lop-sided framework of studying is taking place in many schools, which makes Science courses mainly concept-oriented rather than practical experiment-guided.
To make Science more intriguing with more practical learning, a high school recipient of the 2019 Girl Innovator Award at the Cambodia Women Tech Awards, Arunraksmey Puthirith, together with four of her academic friends, founded ‘E-Lab’, which is an educational app that centres on Science subjects.
E-Lab involves high school scientific experiments that interact more in the actual world of STEM — science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
“We created E-Lab with the aim to help high school students get more involved in STEM by guiding them to practise science and doing the basic experiments themselves,” said 19-year-old Arunraksmey.
“The reason we choose to make an E-Lab app is because we want students to engage more with STEM education and our team wants to give Cambodia students the practical experience of a science lab with experiments like students in the rest of the world too,” she added.
E-Lab, providing clear instructions, affordable material and safety tips, is designed mainly for high school students from Grade 7 to Grade 12 to explore and conduct more scientific experiments and tutorials in an entertaining and engaging manner. The app covers subjects of Science, namely chemistry, physics to biology with a hands-on experience through tutorial videos.
“As we see now, Science classes in high school are mostly presented in a theory and concept syllabus which makes it tough for students to engage and understand the practical lessons. This is the core reason of why we created the E-Lab,” said Raksmey.
She pointed out that in every experiment, she and her team cover all related topics taken from the Science text books of the educational system, which she adds, will help students a great deal in terms of their learning.
“All the lessons and experiments of the E-Lab app are based on the textbooks of state schools since we want to make it (E-Lab) consistent with the school curriculum,” said Raksmey.
For the E-Lab success to progress thus far, in terms of gaining recognition for its viability, Raksmey and her team had to overcome many obstacles in order to implement this project.
The team had to seek financial backing from sponsors and mentorship for the creation of the E-Lab app.
“It was really hard for the whole team as we are very young and inexperienced in running the app on the android and IOS. As we were in need of help, many of our seniors lent a hand. They came to assist us a lot in creating the E-Lab (app),” added Raksmey.
Currently, E-Lab has been downloaded and used by more than a hundred high school students as a tool to simulate their Science subjects learning.
Sam Minea, a freshman, majoring in Department of International Business Management at Royal University of Phnom Penh, said E-Lab is a great app which enables high school students and young science enthusiasts to learn and experience the practical science projects in reality.
“I’m really happy to see students, especially girls at such a young age, can create their own app and also can contribute to STEM education in Cambodia. As there are only (currently) about 10 scientific experiments, therefore, I’m looking forward to seeing E-Lab produce more scientific experiments,” Minea added.
So how effective is E-Lab? In a random assessment, Ly Rottana, lecturer and researcher of National Institute of Posts, Telecoms & ICT, said E-Lab contents are easy to understand and especially for high school students who want to practise the scientific experiments at home by themselves.
He noted the app is a good experience for high school students, aside from reading the theory side in their textbook. Despite the advantage of E-Lab, he is of the opinion that the level of science experiments shown in video is still limited for now.
“They need to have more experimental equipment. However, because they are young, finding more equipment and the scientific tools to conduct experiments is difficult for them,” he said.
Mr Ratana, however, added that by far, most of the experiments (in video clips) of E-Lab is satisfactory for high school students now — as the app developer and its team have followed the lessons in high school textbooks. — Additional reporting by Va Sonyka.