Nobelist Mindset Pilot Program

Location  International

Sponsor  Government of Malaysia

Partner  The New York Academy of Sciences

Malaysia’s unique initiative in STEM education reform is designed to help bring a Nobel Prize to that nation by instructing gifted high school students, science teachers, and outstanding scientists on what it takes to become a prize-winning scientist.

The government of Malaysia has taken concrete steps toward STEM education reform by targeting the country’s gifted students and teaching them what it takes to become a prize-winning scientist—with the goal of bringing a Nobel Prize to that nation.

The Nobelist Mindset Pilot Program—inspired by Datin Paduka Seri Dr.  Hajah Rosmah Mansor, the wife of Prime Minster Najib Razak—seeks to expose and train gifted high school students, science teachers, and leading scientists in the mindset necessary to become a Nobel Laureate. This is achieved through hands-on activities, soft skill development, and mentoring sessions between students and leading scientists.

Like most countries, Malaysia faces the challenge of being competitive in a knowledge-based economy, ensuring economic prosperity and a high standard of living for all Malaysians. At the heart of this challenge is the need to reform the education system so that all students have the knowledge and skills necessary to hold jobs.

While the innate talent of Nobel Laureates cannot be learned, other characteristics that drive their success can be learned—persistence, often in the face of skepticism; seeing connections between ideas that others don’t recognize; and creativity.

Shifting the way scientists think about their work, organize their research, and plan their careers can help teach the skills that help make Laureates successful—the “mindset” premise of the program.

The first phase of the program, which began in 2013, featured students and scientists participating in workshops in Malaysia with in-country education partners and scientists and instructors from the New York Academy of Sciences. In a second phase, Nobel Laureate Dr. Richard Roberts was the official Nobelist-in-Residence at the National University of Malaysia, interacting with local students, teachers, and scientists.

And in the final phase, teams of Malaysian students, teachers, and scientists traveled to New York City to continue their hands-on learning at the New York Academy of Sciences, Rockefeller University, and the American Museum of Natural History.

As a reflection of its growing success, the New York Academy of Sciences is working with the Malaysian government to expand the program, taking it from a pilot benefitting 240 students, teachers, and scientists to a nation-wide program with increased capacity to encourage and affect the lives and careers of STEM students and scientists.

“The success of a new generation of Malaysian STEM leaders will take a joint effort where governments, businesses, nonprofits, and schools all help to create an ecosystem that encourages, mentors, and trains students for careers in STEM fields.”
Najib Razak, Prime Minster of Malaysia