Okkar is a student of the B.E. (Hons.) programme in Computer Science & Engineering.
My name is Okkar Kyaw. I am studying computer science at MIIT, Mandalay. I was selected as one of the participants of Myanmar, for STEP Brain Camp. STEP Brain Camp is an educational science program organised by the National University of Singapore (NUS) and co-funded by Temasek Foundation International (TFI). The camp was organised from June 3 to June 9, 2018.
Representative teams from 8 ASEAN countries and China, India, Japan and South Korea participated in this camp. In fact, this camp is meant not only for educational purposes but also for interaction and friendship between students from different lands.
Since this camp is about the Brain, it focuses only on Neuroscience. Before the camp, each country is assigned each of the different topics about the brain. So, we, Myanmar Team had to prepare research paper and presentation slides for our topic a month before the camp. Although all of us are from different states, we became closer and closer in a very short time since our task is a group work. It took about a month for exploring and studying our topic “Ageing Brain”.
Welcome to Singapore!
[Day 0 – June 3]
We arrived at the Singapore Changi Airport at noon. Our Country Group Leaders met us with a welcome signage. After reporting our arrival at RELC International Hotel, we went around the town with 5 Singaporean students, our Country Group participants. At 9pm, the camp briefing was held at RELC Hotel Auditorium.
Brain Brain Brain
[Day 1 to 3 – June 4 to June 6]
From Day 1 to Day 3, we had fundamental lectures about the brain.
- Know Your Brain (Prof. Soong Tuck Wah)
- What’s wrong with your brain? (Prof. Thiruma Arumugam)
- Dialogue and lecture on non-human primate animal models (Prof. Erika Sasaki)
- Schizophrenia (Prof. Charmaine Tang)
- Stem Cells (Prof. Zhang Su-Chun)
[Day 1 – June 4]
Are there only lectures and labs for students in Step Brain Camp? NO! After lectures, we performed teambuilding activities at Gardens by the Bay and visited the Flower Dome to explore the conservatory. We made new friends and had a wonderful time.
[Day 2 and 3 – June 5 and June 6]
In the morning, we had lectures. After that, we had workshops: Racing with Electromyography (EMGs) and Illusion of the Senses. We took part in car race. But it was different. We controlled the cars not with remote controls but with the electrical power generated from our muscles. In the workshop about Illusion of the Senses, we learnt how our senses sometimes deceive us. In the evening, we prepared for the presentation slides to present our topic on Day 5.
Visit to CELS and Science Centre
[Day 4 – June 7]
In the morning, we visited Centre for Life Sciences (CELS). There, we went to 5 lab sessions which focused on different aspects of brain functions. My favourite lab session was the lab about the technology which is a brain-computer interface (BCI) based system for the treatment of patients with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). We played a BCI based game which we had to give full attention to win. Now, that BCI technology is used only for clinical purposes but in my opinion, it has a very great potential for future sophisticated IT technologies. At noon, we went to Science Centre where there are so many crazy and wonderful workings of the brain. At night, we had presentation rehearsal.
Research Paper Presentations
[Day 5 – June 8]
Before our presentations, we had the expert sessions in which we could interact and engage the professors. After lunch, research presentations began. All the teams did great jobs during their presentations. We did our best, too. In the evening, we had a free and easy evening at China Town. On 9th June, we went back to Myanmar.
I had a very great time! I also got so much experience from this programme and learnt many new things. But, I’ve realized that there is a huge gap between those participating countries and us, especially in the education system. We Myanmar youths have responsibilities to build our motherland greater and better. We must try very hard for this purpose. Nothing is impossible if you have a strong desire!