Dissections, sales pitches all part of The Learning Lab's classes
Knowledge put to use with applied learning at tuition and enrichment centre
One afternoon at United Square, a nine-year-old boy stood in front of his class and delivered a sales pitch for a game.
It was part of his English lesson at The Learning Lab (TLL), a tuition and enrichment centre where students go through tasks that enhance skills and allow them to express their creativity.
Even the furniture in most of the classrooms is designed and arranged to resemble boardrooms to engage the students in discussions and interactions.
Applied learning, already part of the curriculum in schools here, is a key focus for TLL, which serves students from preschool to junior college in its 150 classrooms across eight centres.
In a science class, Primary 4 pupil Leong Yin Xuan, 10, experimented with hot and cold water to learn how heat travels from a hot to cold region faster.
She said: "We can feel it, so we understand what we are writing and reading (in textbooks)."
Another student, Xiao Wen, 13, remembers observing the dissection of a sheep's heart to learn about the circulatory system during TLL's science class.
She said: "It makes me more interested to learn because I have not done it in school. In the textbook, it is just a picture. Here, we get to see it (in real life) and even touch it."
Even pre-schoolers are encouraged to pick up books from the TLL library, which contains more than 77,000 fiction and non-fiction books, and to review books to help them think independently.
"Applied learning is an approach to contextualise learning and make learning more relevant for the child so they see how they can put the knowledge to use in life," said Dr Lubna Alsagoff, director of curriculum at TLL.
She had spent eight years as head of English language and literature and over four years as associate dean of the Office of Education Research at the National Institute of Education.
"Children learn better when they see things as meaningful. So we try to bring in this meaningfulness by contextualising it and letting them experiencing it. We want students to see how knowledge will connect to the real world," she said.
The approach is crucial to develop "more critical innovative thinkers" in Singapore, she added.
The curriculum is researched, planned and written by more than 50 staff. The centre also has a team of over 50 staff in the academic leadership team that lead, mentor and guide some 300 teachers.
Hands-on demonstrations such as frog dissections - for primary school kids transitioning to secondary school - help ignite interest in subjects, said Mr Soo Wai Kit, 32, subject head of science at TLL Tampines.
He said: "These sessions spark questions that build the spirit of curiosity among students. Through hands-on experiments and more real life examples, it clicks more easily for abstract topics like heat and light."