Alumni Kaleidoscope: Chit Yan Shum - BEng(CPEG), MSc(IM)
After 10 years in investment banking, Chit Yan made a drastic change to her career path – passionate about education, she co-founded Tech Cubie, an innovative STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education program for primary school students, with fellow alumni Connie Wong and Wilson Shum.
They began by holding private classes for friends’ children at their homes, which gave them the insights they needed to form a curriculum. “Now, we’ve developed a year-long course, plus summer programs and one-off day campus. Tech Cubie’s vision is to empower the next generation with computational thinking and technology competency. If we want our children to succeed in the digital economy, we need to teach them these skills while they are still young,” says Chit Yan.
Tech Cubie’s curriculum is unique in several ways. First, students learn through trial and error. “In my classes, I give students a task like, ‘get this robot to run in a square on the floor,’ without telling them how to do it. I’m always amazed at their creativity. They have learned that there is no one right answer in life—it’s about finding what works for you.”
Students also learn in daily life, not just in the classroom. Chit Yan says, “I get them to question the things they see every day, like automatic doors. How does the door open when someone comes near? Is it an infra-red or ultrasonic sensor? Then I teach them the science, engineering, and coding concepts behind it. But most importantly, I guide them to think about what problem is it solving. This is the true power of STEM education.”
Tech Cubie similarly encourages students to build things with their own hands. In the first Mbot class for example, they are given all the parts of the robot and asked to assemble them, without seeing the robot first. “It’s a lot of fun, as many have never even used a screwdriver before. Plus, it teaches them important hardware skills.”
Chit Yan believes the essence of STEM education is to teach students to integrate technology into their everyday lives and create solutions to problems they encounter. “We need to teach kids to explore more, try more, challenge the status quo, and connect with society.”