Biotechnology Fun at Kuen Cheng High School

The School of Science together with Malaysian Biotechnology Information Center (MABIC) and Kuen Cheng High School organised a full-day Carnival to provide insights to students in the field of science.

UM technician demonstrating skills in tissue culture

Medicine, engineering and pharmacy – is science only about that? What science degree should I opt for if I don’t have any particular interest? What will my career prospects be like? These questions and more were answered at the Biotechnology Carnival, at Kuen Cheng High School.

Organised by the School of Science at Monash University Malaysia, together with Malaysian Biotechnology Information Center (MABIC) and Kuen Cheng High School, the full-day Carnival attracted more than 500 students. It provided students the opportunity to gain insights into the field of science from  academics and professionals.

Exhibitors included the Monash Genomics Facility; Centre for Research in Biotechnology for Agriculture, University of Malaya; Mushroom Society Malaysia; University Putra Malaysia; PLS Marketing Sdn Bhd; and ChemoScience Sdn Bhd. To add to the carnival-themed atmosphere, there were also game booths hosting  activities such as crime scene investigation (CSI) with hands-on DNA profiling.

There were also a series of diverse talks and dialogues by professors, academics and professionals from various institutions. Topics ranged from trends in human genetics and molecular biology, to cancer research and even mushrooms among others.

Kuen Cheng student loading DNA samples for agarose gel

“Bioinformatics, genomics, nanotechnology, medical bioscience – the science field is vast! For decades, people have been unaware of the careers and opportunities available within the field of science. We are here to change that perception. Through the hands-on activities here today, we hope  that as you get involved, you will also get excited about the wonders of biotechnology, which is so much part of our everyday life,” enthused Dr Song Beng Kah as he welcomed the students.

Dr Song, a Senior Lecturer at the School of Science, Monash Malaysia who is also the Organising Committee Advisor further stressed on the importance of helping the country engage more students in the biotechnology field. This is in line with government efforts to increase the number of science graduates.

“We are really happy to have Monash and MABIC provide our students with the most current update in the field of biotechnology. It is a field which is embedded in many facets of our daily lives, and also one of the fastest growing sectors globally,” said Madam Gooi Swee Gaik, the Principal  of Kuen Ching High School.

Led by Dr Song, the organising committee for the carnival consisted of 31 undergraduates from the School of Science at Monash Malaysia. “It was my first time leading such a large committee, which also included seven MABIC staff members! The experience will definitely be beneficial to me, as I  enter the work force. The three-month long preparation taught me so much about communication, as well as working effectively with people, not only within the university, but also exhibitors and corporations,” shared Tee Hsin Yee, a Biotechnology student, who was Chairperson of the Committee.

Prof Chris Austin sharing insight on phylogenetic relationship among living organisms

Echoing similar sentiments, Brandon Yeoh Khai Siang, a Medical Bioscience student and Committee Secretary, said that communication skills is essential when it comes to working in teams. “My ambition is to be a lecturer,” Brandon shared. “Getting the chance to interact with high school  students is really helpful to hone the skill of tactfully sharing knowledge with the juniors”.

For Lee Zhi Wei who was Activities Director at the event and currently pursuing her year-long honours program for Medical Bioscience, she admitted that she found it a challenge to think on her feet, as she dealt with situations which popped up over the preparation process and on the event day. This  taught her about time management and how to deal with the unexpected, which will be helpful in the future.

The School of Science at Monash University Malaysia is supportive of the Government’s biotechnology agenda. Its good collaborative relationship with MABIC allows similar workshops to be run as community service for public and private schools nationwide.

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