The Next Chapter in STEM Education
Author: Prof NG Tai Kai, Executive Director, the HKAGE

The report submitted by the Task Force on Review of School Curriculum on 22 September 2020 states that ‘EDB (Education Bureau) is recommended to work with the Hong Kong Academy for Gifted Education (HKAGE) to provide more STEM learning opportunities for students gifted in STEM; …’ 

The following article describes the general approach to STEM education the HKAGE is currently undertaking, and the STEM programmes currently being offered to the gifted students who are members of the HKAGE.

The HKAGE provides an extensive range of challenging and inspiring STEM programmes for student members of the HKAGE, ranging from P.4 to S.6 in Hong Kong.  A large number of these programmes are enrichment in nature providing students with opportunities to explore their interests and identify their real potential in different STEM areas. Some programmes are at a more advanced level aiming at developing students’ competence in a particular area of STEM or developing students’ general STEM and 21st century skills. Affective education elements are often infused into these programmes to support students’ personal, social, and emotional needs when advancing through the challenges they face.   

To enable students to get the most out of HKAGE programmes, we have started to develop different learning pathways (Talent Development Pathways, TDPs) to guide students to construct their individualised study plans from the large number of interconnected programmes offered by the HKAGE. The programmes in TDPs are organised progressively in terms of difficulty level and interconnectedness. There are now four developed STEM pathways in physics, machine learning (AI), cryptography, and genetics. More TDPs will be offered in the future. We encourage our students to go through HKAGE programmes progressively based on their interest and ability with reference to TDPs.



Among the numerous STEM programmes, mathematics programmes occupy a prominent place. Mathematics provides the basic language used in STEM. Besides programmes on traditional topics like algebra, geometry, and calculus, there are also programmes introducing the application of mathematics in areas such as finance (e.g. Introduction to Financial Mathematics, Understanding Risk with Mathematics), society (e.g. Big Data in Society) and communication (e.g. From Number Theory to Network Communication Series). These courses equip our students with sufficient mathematical knowledge and skills to further their study in other advanced STEM programmes.

We provide many introductory-level science and technology programmes on topics that go beyond the regular school curriculum. For example, the Introductory Course in Cryptology is a taster course for primary school students to explore cryptology with computer programming. Dissecting DNA and The Microbe World give primary school students a glimpse of genetics and microbiology. Accompanying these are intermediate and advanced courses for upper primary and secondary school students.  For example, Crime Scene Investigation and Science of Sherlock Holmes are two forensic science programmes with trial case investigations. There are also physics and astronomy programmes (Journey to Mars 2025, InterstellarJourney into the Cosmos, Physics Study Tour) with stargazing activities in the local countryside and overseas physics/astronomy laboratories. Biotechnology programmes (Dissecting DNA and Microbiology, Neuroscience, and Molecular Biology (M-n-M)) discuss the application of technology in genetics, neuroscience, and medical applications via university level experiments. Students in our advanced level courses have the opportunity to meet and work with frontier scientists to unravel new interest and potential in areas in which they can never imagine.

Our programmes in machine learning begin with basic talks and courses (e.g. Machines Are ListeningTechnologies Inside and Beyond Siri and Introduction to Computer Programming Using C++). Then, the students’ progress to intermediate and advanced courses (e.g. Machine IntelligencePrinciples and Applications, Machine Learning and Internet of Things Application— Making Innovative Smart Living Products) and eventually they may take an AI investigation project that requires a high level of AI competency and deep commitment. 

We also provide programmes preparing students for STEM and 21st century skills. For example, the STEM Club adopts a jigsaw-project-learning approach where participating students are grouped for project idea formation with design thinking tools and empathy training embedded in the programme. The Maker Workshop provides hands-on, maker experiences, and conceptual knowledge in the field of urban farming to develop students’ 21st Century Essential Skills

Through these programmes we identify gifted students with talent and commitment to their areas of interest. We then guide them through appropriate specialised or personalised programmes along TDPs to further their experiences in the field. These may include opportunities provided under the Hong Kong Gifted Apprentice Programme or the Global Talent MentoringTM, a global mentoring scheme where only 1-2 student(s) will be selected from Hong Kong each year to be mentored by an international STEMM expert.

The HKAGE revises its programmes, learning pathways, and subject curriculum and builds new programmes regularly. We strive for providing learning opportunities that are challenging, fascinating, and are absent in regular schools for our students. We are confident that our programmes can enrich the students’ knowledge, enhance their exposure, develop their thinking skills as well as addressing their affective needs to empower them to attain remarkable achievements in their future.

Below is a list of existing STEM-related programmes offered by the HKAGE

Programme Title

Across Domains and Interdisciplinary Course (Level 3): Dynamical Systems in Medicine

To be delivered

Across Domains and Interdisciplinary Course (Level 1): Creative Geometry with GeoGebra

Numbers and Arithmetic Workshop (Level 1): Exploration on Numbers with Programming

Advanced Course in Mathematical Olympiad: International Mathematics Olympiad Training 2019-20(Phase I) Level 1

Advanced Course in Mathematical Olympiad: International Mathematics Olympiad Training 2019-20(Phase I) Level 2

Algebra Course (Level 1): Perspectives on Junior Secondary Mathematics—Algebra

Numbers and Arithmetic Course (Level 1) Secret Codes—How to Make Them and How to Break Them

Algebra Course (Level 4): Algebra Series—Matrices and Equations

Coastal Ecology Course (Level 1): On the Same Coast

Food Science Course (Level 1): Food Science in Daily Life

Astronomy Course (Level 1): Astronomy 1, Interstellar—Journey into the Cosmos

Algebra Course (Level 5): Algebra Series—Linear Algebra

Astronomy 2 Course (Level 1): Our New Solar System—From Earth to Planet Nine

Daily Science—Forensic Science Course (Level 1): Crime Scene Investigation

Biochemistry in Everyday Life

To be delivered

Biomedical and Diseases Course

To be delivered

Calculus: Single Variable Parts 1-4: Functions, Differentiation, Integration, Applications

To be delivered

Computer Programming Course (Level 1): Building Arduino Surveillance Cart

Coding Club: Programming Fun with Scratch

Computer Programming (Level 1): Blocky & Digital Game Design

Introductory Talk in Biotechnology: The Miraculous Stem Cells

Thinking Like a Scientist—Project Eureka: Workshop with Eureka Discoveries in ‘Light, Sound and Electricity’

Enhancement Programme for Gifted Students in Physics (2019-20) Phase V

International Biology Olympiad—Hong Kong Contest 2019

International Mathematical Olympiad Preliminary Selection Contest—Hong Kong 2020

CGMO Training Course: CGMO Training 2019 (Phase I)

Discrete Math, Probability, Statistics Course (Level 1): Probability—When Luck meet with Mathematics

Genetics Workshop (Level 1): Summer Fun with DNA

Advanced Course in Mathematical Olympiad: International Mathematics Olympiad Training 2019-20 (Phase II) Level 2

Geometry and Topology Course (Level 1): Fold Up Paper, Brush Up My Math 1

Pre-IMO Intensive Training 2020

Physics Enhancement Programme for Gifted Students (2019-20) (Phase I)

Physics Enhancement Programme for Gifted Students (2019-20) (Phase II)

The Student Training Course for International Biology Olympiad 2020 (Phase I)

Physics Enhancement Programme for Gifted Students (2019-20) (Phase III)

Physics Enhancement Programme for Gifted Students (2019-20) (Phase IV)

Geometry and Topology Course (Level 1): Perspectives on Junior Secondary Mathematics—Geometry

The Student Training Course for International Biology Olympiad 2020 (Phase II)

The Student Training Course for International Biology Olympiad 2020 (Phase III)

Intermediate Course in Computer Controlled Robots: Mini Robocon 2019 Phase I Training

BIG IDEAS: Rehabilitation and Technology

Big History and Sustainability

Across Domains and Interdisciplinary Course (Level 3): Introduction to Financial Mathematics

Hong Kong Physics Olympiad 2020

Algebra Course (Level 4): Algebra Series - Matrices and Determinants

Intermediate Course in Virtual Reality: VR Adventure

International Mathematics Olympiad Training 2019-20 (Phase III) Level 2

Introduction to Calculus

To be delivered

Introductory Course in Computer Controlled Robots: Jumping Sumo Steeplechase

To be delivered

Introductory Course to FinTech (Level 2)

 To be delivered

Numbers and Arithmetic Course (Level 5): From Number Theory to Network Communication – Foundations of Coding Theory

Introductory Talk in Astronomy

To be delivered

Astronomy I Workshop (Level 3): What is Astronomy?

Introductory Talk in Technology: Computer Vision AI—Face Recognition, Self-driving Car Perception and Beyond

Introductory Talk in Technology: Machines Are Listening—Technologies Inside and Beyond Siri

Numbers and Arithmetic Course (Level 5): From Number Theory to Network Communication—Introduction to Cryptography

Intermediate Course in Artificial Intelligence: Machine Intelligence—Principles and Applications

Renewable Energy: 21st Century Microcontroller Technology—Solar Tracking Platform for Maximum Energy Collection

The Latest IoT and Remote Sensing Technologies for Monitoring Urban Trees

Topology Course (Level 4): Algebra Series—Vectors

BIG IDEAS: Rehabilitation and Technology

Global Talent MentoringTM – Hong Kong Round Selection

The Young Talent Fellowship (STEMM)

ASPIRATIONS: Young Engineers’ Experiences

STEM Club

STEM Club: Maker Programme

ASPIRATIONS: The ABC You Should Know for a Career in Technology

Creative Club: Maker Programme

BIG IDEAS: Preliminary Workshop for Urban Farming Maker Programme

BIG IDEAS: Urban Farming Maker Programme

Hong Kong Gifted Apprentice Programme