ROBOTS will soon be marching onto the curriculum at Chua Chu Kang Primary School.
A new programme at the school will see pupils design robots during art lessons and learn about their inner workings during science class.
The infusion of robotics into the curriculum comes after Chua Chu Kang Primary was named on Wednesday as one of 17 schools with what education officials called a 'distinctive character'. The primary schools will be given $150,000 over three years to develop these strengths.
Another nine secondary schools have also been awarded Niche Programme status this year.
These schools join the group of 37 primary and secondary institutions identified between 2005 and last year.
Some of the niche areas include rope skipping at Hong Wen School in Victoria Street, guzheng at North View Primary in Yishun, and rock climbing at Springfield Secondary in Tampines.
Senior Minister of State for Education and National Development Grace Fu, who announced the latest batch of schools on Wednesday, said she was encouraged to see many institutions coming up with good ideas to develop students' potential.
'The fact that many students are excited by the opportunities is testament to the programme,' she said.
She encouraged schools to work with one another. For example, primary schools could tie up with secondary schools and polytechnics to develop their niche.
'The main objective is to develop students' abilities at a young age. I would like to see the effort being carried through subsequently. If there can be better cooperation and coordination, that would bring us greater mileage,' she said.
The teachers and pupils at Chua Chu Kang Primary are excited about the classes in robotics, which is currently a co-curricular activity.
Pilot classes will start in July and the programme proper will be rolled out next year.
The school has been the champion at the National Junior Robotics Competition for the last two years and has thrice represented Singapore at the World Robotics Olympiad.
Mr Eddy Chua, 49, one of the teachers in charge of robotics, said the school will focus on collaborating with other institutions, both locally and overseas.
One of the pupils in the club, 13-year-old Javier Seh, said he enjoys the sense of accomplishment that comes with bringing robots to life.
'I get frustrated when the robot doesn't move properly, but I like working with my friends to figure things out,' said the Primary 6 pupil.
'I think robotics is something I will enjoy doing even when I grow old.'
This article was first published in The Straits Times on Apr 25, 2008.