With aims to encourage scientific innovation and creativity among school children, the Science Technology Engineering Mathematic (STEM) Olympiad at a national-level returns this June. It is organized by Ministry of Education (MoE) in collaboration with Royal Education Council (REC).
The program coordinator, Bhoj Raj Rai, said STEM Olympiad provides a platform to showcase the talent, innovation and creativity among students. “In the process, they also learn the skills of collaboration and cooperation which are important skills for the 21st century world.”
Pointing to the importance of science, technology and engineering in all spheres of economic development, Rai said, “A developing country like ours, science and technology is essential tool for further growth and development. For any successful economy, particularly in today’s quest for knowledge- based economies, science, technology and engineering are the basic requisites.”
However, he added that other subjects also deserve importance. “We are already moving towards making history textbook less, bringing reform in curriculum framework for economics, geography, accountancy and many as possible.”
The first STEM Olympiad took place last year in Thimphu. It was graced by His Majesty The King. “Earlier the science and technology exhibition used to take place at a cluster level, due to the success of the first Olympiad, we are making it as an annual feature for the school system,” Rai said.
The competition has three stages, first with the submission of proposals by all the eligible middle and higher secondary schools, which will then be evaluated by a team of evaluators, out of which 30 best proposals are to be selected.
The 30 best proposals get the seed money of Nu 10,000 to develop their model and prototype. “A team of evaluators will then visit these 30 schools to evaluate their exhibits, out of which 15 best prototypes will be selected to participate at the National level STEM Olympiad 2018.”
The estimated budget for the program is Nu 2.6 mn. The winning school will be awarded with Nu 75,000 along with trophy and certificate, Nu 50,000 for the runners-up followed by Nu 30,000 for the first runners-up. 12 schools get the consolation prize of Nu 10,000 each with certificates. There are plans to extend the program for the junior category from next year if there are funds.
“If nations do not implement science and technology, then the chances of getting themselves developed become minimal, and thus could be even rated as an undeveloped nation. Science and technology is associated in all means with modernity, and it is an essential tool for rapid development,” said the program coordinator.
Rai said the competition program will be an annual feature, but the strategy to conduct it might change depending upon the situation and availability of funds.