PolyU: PolyU launches the Junior Research Mentoring Programme, introducing secondary students to research projects to explore broader knowledge

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) has always attached much importance to the holistic education of young people and encouraged them to gain different learning experiences through interdisciplinary studies. This May, PolyU launched the three-month Junior Research Mentoring Programme (JRMP) for secondary school students to participate in research projects across different fields under the guidance of PolyU’s academics, to help them explore multiple pathways among the diverse subjects available at PolyU in order to get prepared for their future academic and career pursuits.

The JRMP initiative drew participation from over 60 PolyU academics across different departments and received a positive response from secondary schools. After careful review, close to 100 students from 36 local secondary schools and international schools were selected to participate in the programme. Under the mentorship of PolyU’s experienced academics, students conducted research in groups within a duration of three months. Research topics covered an array of different subjects including rehabilitation sciences, optometry, hotel and tourism management, biomedical engineering, nursing, design, languages, business, and various specialisations of engineering. Participating students worked closely with their mentors and acquired hands-on experience in research, from research design and data collection to data analysis and report writing, which deepened their understanding of their chosen research topic and helped them develop the skillset and knowledge required for conducting research.

PolyU’s Vice-President (Students and International Affairs) Prof. Ben Young said, “PolyU is committed to responding to societal needs through various research projects. Our vision, aligned with that of our academics and researchers, is to encourage more young researchers to contribute to the betterment of society. The newly launched Junior Research Mentoring Programme serves to deepen understanding of research work among young people, enabling them to discover what research is about under the guidance of experienced academics, thereby exposing them to valuable practical experience in research and broadening their academic horizons. The University intends to further expand the scope of the programme by covering more research topics to draw wider participation from interested students.”

Under the advice of Dr Arnold Wong, Associate Professor of the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences at PolyU, four students from Good Hope School and Diocesan Girls’ School conducted research on “The Prevalence of Musculoskeletal Pain and the Associated Risk Factors among Adolescents in Secondary Schools”. The students shared their thoughts on the project and said, “This is our very first time participating in scientific research. It was an invaluable experience to strengthen our critical thinking and analytical skills, and learn to be careful and precise in undertaking scientific research. During the process, we came across challenges in identifying interviewees and processing data, which were solved via collaboration within the team and the aid of PolyU’s mentors. The project helped us advance both our academic knowledge and personal growth.”

Four students from The Independent Schools Foundation Academy, Holy Trinity College, Hong Kong University Graduate Association College, N.T. Heung Yee Kuk Yuen Long District Secondary School, undertook a study on “Evaluation of Dry Eye and Ocular Surface Conditions in Hong Kong” under the supervision of Dr Thomas Lam, Associate Professor of the School of Optometry at PolyU and his team. The students said, “Prior to the project, we did not know much about what an optometrist does on a daily basis. Our mentors gave us a fuller picture by showing us around the clinic and explaining the job duties of an optometrist, which includes the evaluation of dry eyes. Throughout the research process, we were involved in designing questionnaires, conducting assessments and using advanced clinical equipment. It was truly a memorable experience.”

PolyU is committed to nurturing young people’s interest in research, helping them acquire interdisciplinary knowledge and keep abreast of the latest developments in industry to widen their perspectives. Looking forward, PolyU will continue to organise the Junior Research Mentoring Programme and will increase the number of research projects as well as the number of student recruitment quotas. The “Junior Research Mentoring Programme 2022” will commence applications early next year, and is expected to launch within April to August next year. Website of the Junior Research Mentoring Programme: https://www.polyu.edu.hk/geo/prospective-students/undergraduate/local/junior-research-mentoring-programme/ .

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