Special Programme in Science (SPS)

SPS Module Reviews

In the two years of the SPS curriculum, an SPSian will complete six different modules. Four of the modules, namely, SP2173 Atoms to Molecules, SP2174 The Cell, SP3175 The Earth and SP3176 The Universe are thematic-based. These modules allow students to better understand the multidisciplinary aspect of Science through seminars, laboratory and field work, and simulations. The remaining two SPS modules, SP2171 Discovering Science and SP3172 Investigating Science Project, are research-based modules that provide SPSians with the rare opportunity to experience research work early on in their undergraduate life. The following are some anecdotes from past and current SPSians.

SP2171 DISCOVERING SCIENCE

SP2171 is a module which paved the way for my other modules in my major and also the other SPS modules. We were taught a lot, from scientific writing to coding to presentation skills. The best highlight of the module would be learning from our mentors, who are all incredibly experienced and knowledgeable. The biggest takeaway would be the friendships forged in the midst of learning.

To the incoming juniors, always always start early: start looking for mentors early, start exploring your interests early and start writing your report early!

– Low Yi Xuan, Life Sciences, Class of 2021

SP2173 ATOMS TO MOLECULES

The module gave an in-depth view of some of the concepts related to Physics and Chemistry, helping these majors gain a strong understanding and build a greater foundation for their accompanying modules. The module also helps students understand the basics of quantum theory.

I was very impressed with how Dr. Chammika carried out the lessons as he showed great passion when it comes to teaching students. While I had great difficulty understanding angular momentum in Junior College, I felt that I was able to grasp most of the concepts related to this topic much faster thanks to Dr. Chammika. As a Chemistry major, I was also surprised at how applicable the concepts are to Inorganic Chemistry. Without SP2173, I would have found CM1111 (Inorganic Chemistry I) much harder.

For the Chemistry and Physics majors, I feel that the content in this module is especially relatable as it helps out in their core modules. For students who did not take Physics or find it difficult to understand some of the content, do not be afraid to ask your peers, seniors and Dr. Chammika as they would definitely help you out should you ever need it. For group work, everyone should really try to work together and Physics students should not be shy to help other members who are not familiar with some of the concepts as teamwork is very important to do well in the module.

– Samuel Lee, Chemistry, Class of 2021

SP2174 THE CELL

The introduction to synthetic biology was certainly enlightening and thought-provoking. The application of engineering and computing principles to cells fascinated me. The cool videos of how scientists have been able to manipulate genetic circuits to achieve sensor and computing devices were eye-opening. I realised not only the potential for synthetic biology but also how lacking the scientific understanding of how various genetic components interact is. There is definitely much more that we can discover.

Biology is increasingly rapidly moving away from simply the observation of phenomena and the understanding of the principles behind them. The current trends involve innovating new applications of these basic biological principles that we learn so as to create new ways to better the human condition and society. However, to effectively do this, one really needs to explore other fields beyond Biology such as Physics and Computer Science, and apply a multidisciplinary perspective.

As with many other modules in SPS, succinct and clear scientific communication is very important. Reading scientific research articles helps to identify styles of writing that you can emulate. Also, do play around with ideas and examples in your head. Imagine what would happen if something occurs differently and what the implications of that would be. This certainly helped me to understand the importance of each aspect of a concept thoroughly.

– Mani Hemaprashaad, Computational Biology, Class of 2021

SP3172 INVESTIGATING SCIENCE PROJECT

The highlight of the module is definitely being able to learn new things and really live the researcher life! I learnt a lot especially since the topic I was exploring was not a common one, and I had mentors and good lab people who helped me through. I really enjoyed the whole process - learning new techniques, troubleshooting and communicating our results to the rest of the SPS community.

My greatest takeaway from the module is resilience - resilience to push through with the research question and to spend time troubleshooting without giving up. Though certain experimental techniques may not work out, there are other ways we can approach the research question!

Keep an open mind and be willing to learn. Do not be afraid to ask questions, no matter how stupid you may think they are!

– Deborah Fong, Life Sciences, Class of 2020

SP3175 THE EARTH

I like that this module has no final exam that tests your understanding - you dictate what you learn through the questions you ask and you are given the chance to explore on your own. Alsod, the St John's Island trip was super fun (though stressful)!

I gained a better appreciation of the many processes that keep Earth as it is today, and also an idea of why Earth is habitable.

To do well, be willing to explore things on your own and do not be afraid of unfamiliar topics.

– Deborah Fong, Life Sciences, Class of 2020