Fuhua Secondary School
As part of her direct school admission (DSA) audition, Primary Six pupil Nerissa Soh was taken into a room resembling a crime scene.
In the room, a mannequin lay on the floor with what looked like blood stains around it, and in its hand was a wine glass with a lipstick smudge.
Nerissa, 13, was required to step into the mind of a forensic scientist and string the given clues together.
It was part of a science enrichment programme but was then turned into an applied learning programme and later expanded into a DSA talent area.
Explaining why the school embarked on this, the teacher in-charge, Madam Hia Soo Ching, said: “Although forensic science is a very specialised field, there’s a lot of forensic science in our daily lives. The crimes they see on TV intrigue them and through this we want them to learn how to be analytical.”
Nerissa’s interest in crime was piqued from watching Channel 8 TV serial Crime Watch.
She said: “I never knew that teeth marks are unique to every individual and I’m glad that at school, we are taught how to use such interesting methods to identify the culprits.”
Another student, Mangubat Eugene Cayle, 13, said his interest in forensic science was sparked when he started reading Hardy Boys novels.
He said: “It feels familiar because we learn how to look for clues and it’s like a mystery book come to life. Not many students get to learn this in school.”
Secondary One students pick up skills like facial biometrics and shoe print impressions.
Secondary Two students will analyse a car crash and learn about moving speeds and braking distance.
The school sees about 10 to 15 applicants per year and usually accepts three or four students. They go through a written test, a crime scene analysis and an interview.
Madam Hia said: “We’re looking out for their observation skills and attention to details, if they are able to pay attention to small clues hidden around the crime scene.”
To provide real-life examples for students, the school bought a second-hand car for their experiments and also created a scene of a car crash during the school’s open house.
Ngee Ann Secondary School
Another talent area, Coding, was introduced by Ngee Ann Secondary School last year. While a computer science background is not required, pupils are tested on their ability to spot patterns and problem solving.
Lee Wan Shuen and Issac Lip, both 13, are Ngee Ann’s first batch and created their first game – an imitation of the popular Flappy Bird game in school.
Both Secondary One students will be given mini coding projects in school every year, such as creating step counters and automated recycling bins.
Following in the footsteps of his father, who is a coding lecturer at the Institute of Technical Education, Issac learned coding at home from a young age.
He said: “It was intriguing. It’s always something different because it’s about piecing puzzles and codes together.”
Wan Shuen hopes to use her coding skills to design veterinary equipment. An equipment malfunction killed her dog years ago.
DSA application process for secondary schools: 2019
Students interested in applying for DSA to secondary schools next year may do so from tomorrow (May 8) to June 4.
The DSA application process has been streamlined for students and parents through a centralised online portal.
There will also be no more fees for applications.
The Ministry of Education (MOE) said in a statement yesterday: “Application through the portal is free-of-charge, to remove financial barriers and to encourage all students with the talent and potential, regardless of their background, to apply for DSA.”
Applicants will only need to fill in one online form to apply to multiple schools, and will not be required to submit other documents with their application.
Information like student details, academic records and school achievements will be automatically shared with the schools they apply to.
For authentication purposes, the portal requires one parent’s SingPass to login.
All secondary schools will now follow a common application timeline.
Students interested in applying for DSA can visit www.moe.gov.sg/admissions/direct-admissions/dsa-sec for more information.
A version of this article first appeared in The New Paper.
(Photos: The New Paper)