Singapore Science Festival 2014

Science is an exciting subject but let’s face it – compressing and presenting the interesting aspects into bite-sized pieces for children and the masses can be really challenging. Add the notion of chasing and fulfilling grades in school, and it takes the edge off this intellectual study. So kudos go to the Singapore Science Centre for their effort in making science fun and keeping visitors of all ages engaged.

The Festival of Science is Singapore’s largest yearly science event to celebrate, as in the organizers’ statement, the “dynamism of science, engineering, technology and biomedicine”. It’s jointly organised by the Agency for Science, Technology & Research (A*STAR) and the Science Centre Singapore. Previously called Science Month, it’s been renamed this year to better reflect the festival’s aim to celebrate Science and Technology for everyone, young and old alike.  

So was pulling my family and myself out of our comfy bed on a sleepy Saturday morning worth the effort? I like to think so, as you will see in our photographic journey. Even my younger daughter is still excited and looking forward to doing an encore as part of her school activities in the week ahead. 

Science Ahoy! 

b2ap3_thumbnail_SC-1_20140713-100817_1.jpgAs one of the Festival highlights, Science Ahoy! adopts a sailing theme as it sets up a series of experiments in various subjects to prepare participants for the learning voyage. We use physics to build our own transport, chemistry to aid survival, mathematics to protect ourselves and more!

This event is geared towards to primary school students, their families and friends. Science Ahoy runs till 18 July 2014 (apart from the whole month of the festival) You can check here for more information. 

b2ap3_thumbnail_SC2.jpgTo start the voyage, “captains” at this station explain how we can build our own boats and propel forward it without the need for an engine. We learn the physics of water surface tension in the process. 

b2ap3_thumbnail_SC3.jpgMy daughter cutting her boat out of paper with an “V” cut out one end, a sort of “propulsion unit”. 

b2ap3_thumbnail_SC4_20140713-125240_1.jpgA drop of washing detergent dripped into the “V” saw her paper boat propelled quickly forward. 

b2ap3_thumbnail_SC13.jpgAt the Gooey Marmalade station, we learn the subject of chemistry. Psyllium seed husks, also known as ispaghula, are boiled to produce mucilage. Mucilage is hygroscopic, which means it tends to absorb moisture from the air and retain it. Mucilage contains several types of of sugar molecules that can form long chains called polymers. When thesre polymers retain water, the mixture becomes gooey and slimy. Boiling the water will speed the formation of polymers.  

b2ap3_thumbnail_SC9.jpgMy daughter tinting her gooey mixture with food colouring. Clear colourless goo makes for a boring subject!

b2ap3_thumbnail_SC14.jpgEveryone gets to customize their gooey colours and bring home the mixture to play.

b2ap3_thumbnail_SC5.jpgAt the “Inside the Earth” station, we are refreshed on the subject of Geology. The thickness, states of matter, temperature and the different materials that make up the layers of the Earth are touched upon here.  

b2ap3_thumbnail_SC20.jpgHere, my daughters make a model of the Earth Cores and we’re reminded that earthquakes are the result of shifting of tectonic plates in the Earth Cores. A heavy subject simplified indeed.

b2ap3_thumbnail_SC17.jpgHere, we make seemingly heavy materials like plasticine float on water. The subject of physics is revisited in the station called “Avast Ye” Captains! Kids just love playing with plasticine, don’t they ?  

b2ap3_thumbnail_SC16_20140713-132418_1.jpgAt the “What Say Ye, Sailors?” station, the mathematician in us is called upon to find the approximate perimeter and area of a leaf and creatively use the resulted numbers to encrypt a message. To be frank, I kind of felt lost here. 

b2ap3_thumbnail_SC15.jpgUpon completing each station, we are given a piece of the jigsaw treasure map. 

b2ap3_thumbnail_SC18.jpgTreasure map completed! Time to claim a prize. Just a token gift of course, the real prize is the knowledge gained. 

The event ends on 18 July.

Human Body Experience (HBX) 

b2ap3_thumbnail_SC21.jpgThe Human Body Experience (HBX) is an interactive and tactile exhibition that takes visitors into the human anatomy through muscles, organs and systems. We commence our journey by stepping into the mouth of a 6m tall “human face” and discover the 5 main systems of our human body – the circulatory, digestive, immune, nervous and respiratory systems.

This exhibit was easily one of the highlights of our visit. A word of advice – wear comfortable clothing and footwear. A basic level of balance and flexibility is required too. The routes within include tight space, strobe lighting and special effects – take note if you’re claustrophobic.

b2ap3_thumbnail_SC22.jpgYou guessed right – we are in the throat, at the larynx and vocal chords area! No, it’s not stinky, my wife and daughter are just hamming it up for the picture.

b2ap3_thumbnail_SC23.jpgHere’s the lungs section. The ribs are made of fibreglass and bolted to the floor while the inflated canvases are internally lit and hung from trusses above. No chance of it collapsing on us.

b2ap3_thumbnail_SC26.jpgAt the alveoli and veins, the veins are lit with UV light to give it a unique glow. The veins are intertwined into a labyrinth for us to navigate. 

b2ap3_thumbnail_SC27.jpgThe exhibition “spokesman”, Professor X, appears on the screens in start and the end of each area to provide verbal and visual information. 

b2ap3_thumbnail_SC24.jpgThe combination of light and sound in the heart section created a sensory experience. Sounds of heartbeats, strobe lights and pneumatics were sensor-triggered. By the sound of the constant pounding, our heart is one busy system.  

b2ap3_thumbnail_SC25.jpgOur skeletal structure – without it, we are basically one “formless” being.

b2ap3_thumbnail_SC28.jpgThe end part. Just we enter through the mouth, out we go through the – you guessed it – rectum after pushing ourselves out from within. Do compose yourselves for a more graceful exit. The whole journey takes about 20 minutes.

KidsSTOP™

The KidsStop™ is Singapore’s one and only children’s science centre. It’s designed for children aged 18 months to 8 years old. This 3,000 square metres facility is housed within the OmniTheatre building and provides edutainment with 4 themes – Imagine, Experience, Discover and Dream – all spread across 17 zones. The facilities are designed for purposeful, interactive play and foster parent-child bonding.

b2ap3_thumbnail_SC33.jpgThe colourful theme and lighting are specially designed to keep visitors engaged and comfy. To ensure good hygiene, the area is closed an hour daily for cleaning, between 2pm to 3pm.

b2ap3_thumbnail_SC39.jpgAt the “I want to be a pilot” area – perhaps my daughters will be pilots one day? 

b2ap3_thumbnail_SC34.jpg How about piloting a rocket one day? Always great to aim for the skies and even space. 

b2ap3_thumbnail_SC35.jpgAt the Dino-Pit. How does being a archaeologist or paleontologist sound? But I’m not sure where we can dig in Singapore, or if we will find any T-Rexes for that matter. 

b2ap3_thumbnail_SC30.jpgAt the Giant J, you will be towed up to 7m for a slide down to discover gravity from a different angle. But it can be scary for those with a fear of heights, and do note that all participants must wear socks.

b2ap3_thumbnail_SC32.jpgGeronimo! Probably my daughters’ favourite part of the visit. I am sure you will like the adrenaline rush. Just listen to the station staff instructions – “look at the moon.” A mock-up of the moon is affixed to the wall opposite the slide to alleviate stress. 

b2ap3_thumbnail_SC36.jpgHere’s the Big Dream Climber, one of the main highlights of the station. This 9m structure encourages children to climb, flex their muscles and try out unique hanging elements which are fashioned after levers, fanciful doors and gears.  

b2ap3_thumbnail_SC40.jpgBe a doctor at the Human Body zone. I am not sure if this patient will survive surgery by my daughters.

 b2ap3_thumbnail_SC41.jpgPerhaps my daughters will take up medicine when they grow up. That’s what the KidsStop™ does – promote awareness through purposeful play. 🙂  

Verdict

I’d like to strongly encourage all parents to bring their children to this Science Festival. Take a look at the calendar of highlights, select appropriate events and enjoy the journey together with your children – bonding, fun and learning as well along the way. It could be a pivotal event for your children as it might inspire them to take up a scientific career in future.

Getting There

Venue: The Singapore Science Centre
Address: 15 Science Centre Road S609801
Phone: 6425 2500 (general information)
Website: http://www.science.edu.sg/
Dates: 18 July – 3 August (Science Ahoy! runs until 18 July)


This post was brought to you by the Singapore Science Centre.