The core of Universiti Malaya STEM education means to educate and spark interest of the student in four disciplines of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Universiti Malaya STEM education has been a long-standing endeavour in advocating the importance of STEM knowledge and skills to meet the demands for STEM experts. The global pandemic COVID-19 has further ushered the needs for experts in the 4 pillars of STEM. This has compelled the STEM educators to reinvent and reimagine the approaches to engage the students in STEM. One of the ways is through the Game Based Learning (GBL) where traditional and/or/ non-digital games are used as a tool to impart knowledge and skills.
The concept of learning STEM through Game Based Learning (GBL) has been used by the delegates of Universiti Malaya in a collaborative PIE2 program with Cardiff School of Technologies, EUREKA Robotics Centre, Cardiff Metropolitan University on the 18th of May 2023. Congkak is a traditional Malay game often played as an indoor activity or as a competition. Often, it uses hollow perforated wooden planks or holes on the ground and usually a ‘buah’ (game piece) using rubber seeds or marbles.
In Southeast Asia, Congkak may develop from Melaka as the state is a trading center in the past. The name “congkak” is believed to be derived from the Malay word “congak” which means mental calculation. Besides the Malays, the Congkak game is also famous among the descendants of Indian and Baba Malacca. In the Caribbean Congkak is known as Warri or Awari. In Indonesia, Congkak is known by the name Congklak, while in the Philippines, Sungka.
A total of 28 girls aged 10-12 years old from Cardiff have been involved in the program. The activity session was carried out at Cardiff Museum and led by Ir. Dr. Mas Sahidayana Mokhtar, Director of UM STEM Centre together with Dr. Zati Hakim Azizul Hasan, UM Program Leader for the PIE Program, Prof. Dr. Siti Nursheena Mohd Zain, UM, Ms. Chia Jing Hui, UM and Dr. Devi Fitrianah, Bina Nusantara University, Indonesia. A guidebook prepared by UM STEM Centre (“STEM Through Traditional Congkak Game”) and plastic congkak with marbles were distributed to the groups of students.
They were introduced to learning STEM through the traditional congkak game. At first, congkak may seem to be an unlikely tool to introduce Universiti Malaya STEM education. However, it is an interactive tool for honing mathematical skills such as addition and subtraction while strategizing the game to ensure the player wins by having more seeds in their ‘rumah’ (house). Overall, just a game of congkak can emphasize many STEM attributes such as critical thinking and problem-solving skills which are essential in solving real world problems.
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