At Wellspring Saigon, students are encouraged to go beyond textbooks and are taught to raise critical questions. This year, our students get to apply their knowledge and advance their skills in laboratory practice and data analysis, under the supervision of teachers from the Department of Applied and Research Science (Faculty of Science).
This year project was designed with two main aims:
- Through hands-on experience, students get to learn more about how knowledge of science is applied in practice and thus it helps shape their career choice, cultivating the next generation of scientists, engineers and analysts.
- Results from the experiment will raise awareness within staff and students of self-education and critical thinking.
After one month of laboratory work, all middle school and high school students at Wellspring Saigon have grasped fundamental standards of health and safety as well as basic practical techniques in microbiology. They have also obtained clinical data about the antimicrobial potentials of some common household cleaning/cleansing products. This has also been a chance for high school students to practice what they have learned about scientific research methods (a major emphasis of the Massachusetts Science curriculum) to formulate their own cleansing products and to design their own method of testing, which will be their second phase of the project. In addition, this months-long project has trained students to work under time constraints to let them develop soft skills such as self-planning, teamwork, and using personal initiative.
What our students have achieved is, as it turns out, much more than what was bargained for. Up until this point, the project has highlighted the situation of the market of consumable products in Vietnam: consumers are under-educated and there is a lack of regulations both in terms of marketing and product testing as well as clinical certification. The visuals of samples from the project have also raised a significant level of awareness of personal hygiene and well-being among students at Wellspring Saigon: the number of students who wash their hands before lunch has increased drastically. For their written reports, students have to apply interdisciplinary knowledge of biology, chemistry, maths and literature (both in Vietnamese and English). Consequently, students have had to realize that all subjects are of equal importance. By analyzing their own data, students have learnt that in practice, sometimes a predefined exact answer is unavailable. Last but not least, in terms of career guidance and career development, our students have had a chance to discover themselves and thus have built personal plans for soft-skill advancement.