On the occasion of its tenth anniversary, the University of Macau (UM) Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS) organised the fourth instalment of its science popularisation activity ‘The Pursuit of Research’. The activity provided an opportunity for students from six secondary schools in Macao to visit the core facilities of FHS and conduct a series of hands-on experiments, with the aim of enhancing their interest in health sciences and inspiring them to pursue their dreams in science.
At the opening ceremony, FHS Dean Chuxia Deng warmly welcomed the students and teachers from Instituto Salesiano, Keang Peng School, Saint Paul School Macau, The Affiliated School of the University of Macau, Colégio Diocesano de São José 6, and the Premier School Affiliated to Hou Kong Middle School, and gave them an introduction to the academic and research achievements accumulated by the faculty in the past decade. Taking Fleming’s discovery of Penicillin and Newton’s discovery of universal gravitation as examples, Deng encouraged the students to stay curious and enthusiastic and to keep exploring the mysteries of science.
Led by FHS Associate Dean Chen Guokai and Associate Professor Poon Chuen Wai, the students and teachers visited the faculty’s research facilities. They learned more about UM’s research achievements in precision oncology, stem cell and development, ageing, and related diseases. Under the guidance of FHS’s faculty members, the students conducted experiments related to biomedical sciences, pharmaceutical sciences, and bioinformatics to learn about different scientific theories and the skills of doing experiments, and discover the joy of research.
Cecilia Fong, a teacher at Instituto Salesiano, thinks that the activity enabled students to learn more about science outside the classroom and enhance their scientific literacy. ‘It is an eye-opening experience for the students as they can use the advanced equipment and try their hand at experiments. This helps them identify their goals and passions for their future academic pursuits,’ she says.
Ho Ka Kei, a form five student at Keang Peng School, says that she is delighted to have the opportunity to conduct an experiment in a research-grade laboratory and to learn about the university’s research environment and facilities. According to her, she was worried at first that she would not be able to complete the experiment on her own, but thanks to the faculty members who gave her clear instructions and guided her step by step, she and her schoolmates were able to carry out the experiment successfully. She also believes that this early exposure to university research is helpful for students who are considering the direction of further studies.
Ip Tak Weng, a form four student at Colégio Diocesano de São José 6 (Chinese Section), says that he has been curious about biomedical sciences, and was recommended by his school to participate in this activity. He is glad to have the opportunity to conduct an experiment related to biomedical sciences, from which he learned more about pharmaceutical sciences and bioinformatics. ‘Through the experiment, I gained a better understanding of pharmaceutical sciences and bioinformatics, as well as the relationship between science, technology, society, and the environment,’ he says. He hopes that the faculty will organise more activities related to experiments so that more local secondary school students can take part in scientific research.
In addition to this activity, FHS has also organised other science popularisation activities for students from secondary schools in Macao, including science talks, the Health Sciences Summer Camp, and a one-day camp for students in the Principals’ Recommended Admission Scheme. These activities are in line with the faculty’s philosophy of pursuing the sustainable development of scientific research in the past ten years, promoting the integration of science popularisation and education, enhancing secondary school students’ interest and passion in science, and inspiring them to pursue their dreams in science.