THE move from cramped premises in Kennedy Town has enabled the Singapore International School to improve its science programme. While desks and chairs in science laboratories at the former Kennedy Town site were designed for older students, facilities in the new labs have been made for primary school children. The new premises are surrounded by native trees and plants and architects have included on-site shrubbery which can be studied in biology lessons. Moving to the new school has made science lessons more interesting, according to Wong Swee Fong, head of the mathematics and science department. 'The science room in the old school was designed for secondary school students and the tables and benches were too high for most students. 'Now, we have custom-made tables which are the right size for primary children. 'It is much easier to teach life sciences because there is a lot of plant and animal life in this part of Aberdeen and the school has planted native bauhinias,' Ms Wong said. 'Previously, children had to look at slides or photographs of native plants but now they can look out of the window.' The science course, adopted from the Singapore syllabus, follows the theme of 'Man in his Environment'. Science lessons at SIS start in Primary Three when students have one hour of lessons each week in the laboratory. Those in higher grades have 90 minutes or up to two hours of lessons weekly. 'The aim of the syllabus is to help children learn about themselves and the environment through first-hand experience,' Ms Wong said. 'The Singapore course uses a lot of experimental and practical activities, which keep the children's interest in the subject. 'I have seen students learn practical concepts using the Singapore curriculum, which is one of the reasons SIS adopted the programme,' she said. Students first learned a scientific concept before investigating to prove the theory correct. Teachers helped reinforce concepts and showed children how science could be applied in daily situations, Ms Wong said. Primary Four students, aged 10, were taught about heat and had to conduct experiments on materials that expanded and contracted when put under a bunsen burner, she said. In the school's science laboratory, students were able to conduct experiments using water, fire and gas. 'The course is interesting and does not intimidate youngsters,' Ms Wong said. 'Half of the course involves 'live' sciences, including biology and botany, and the rest of the programme is physical science and the study of energy and non-living things. Once the students have finished Primary Six, they should be ready to take science in any international secondary school.' Conservation and protecting the environment were other important concepts pupils learned during the science course, Ms Wong said. Pollution and the problems it caused were some of the issues students analysed during the course. The curriculum also involved teaching students not to throw litter, or waste paper or electricity, Ms Wong said. Students were also taught how to observe, compare, describe and interpret data - skills which would be used throughout their lives, she said.