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5 Activities At Singapore Discovery Centre To Learn About Total Defence & Appreciate How Safe SG Is

Total Defence Day at Singapore Discovery Centre

Whenever 15th February rolls around, a one-minute islandwide siren sounds at 6.20PM. If you’ve remembered your social studies textbook correctly, you’ll know that this siren commemorates Total Defence Day.

It’s the day that Singapore fell to the Japanese in WWII in 1942, and this year marks its 80th anniversary. Although Singapore’s been pretty safe since then, it’s not something we should be taking for granted.

To learn more about what it takes to ensure our country’s security, here are five activities at the Singapore Discovery Centre you can take part in to appreciate how safe Singapore is.

1. Simulate military defence strategies at the Sandbox

Under high pressure situations, it takes a steady mind to make critical decisions. If you think that best describes you, strap yourself in at the Battlefield Command simulators in the Sandbox. Take up military positions in the land, air or sea, then unleash your attacks on the enemy.

It’s not always just about shooting whatever comes your way. Good defence comes in the form of teamwork with your fellow soldiers. You’ll need to collaborate with everyone to effectively take down the enemy.

particles of change
In Particles of Change, see how minute actions create impact when they work together in this interactive display.

Once you’re done, explore the rest of the Sandbox for a glimpse of how everyone can play their part in defending Singapore in a multi-faceted way through all six pillars.

quiz game

Be sure to take down notes, as there’s a quiz at the end of the exhibition. Test your smarts against other players to earn bragging rights for getting the correct answers to the Total Defence quiz.

Time: Mon – Fri 12PM-7PM | Sat – Sun & PH 11AM-8PM

2. Walk through Singapore’s history at Through the Lens of Time

History teachers might have tried to make lessons interesting back when we were in school. But if you found yourself snoozing through class, try taking a refresher with the Through the Lens of Time tour. You’ll see the transformation of Singapore happen right before you in this immersive and interactive AR-enabled tour.

through the lens of time

You won’t just be facing infographics on poster boards, and lengths of text to read through. Each era of Singapore is presented in a captivating way, with this immersive multimedia show that goes back 700 years into Singapore’s history.

guided tour

Then there are the two exhibition routes showcasing the horrifying details of war through first-hand accounts from survivors. Fair warning: There’s no sugarcoating of facts in this tour, and the images can get quite graphic. We recommend young kids and the squeamish take the path on the right for less gruesome stories.

cable car tragedy
The 1983 cable car accident was a learning moment in Singapore’s history that highlighted the importance of civil defence.

From there, you’ll move on to moments in time Singapore faced threats from neighbouring countries, to milestones the nation has achieved including establishing its own national carrier.

mysdc app

To really immerse yourself into the details of the exhibits, download the mySDC app for AR games and extra features.

Through the Lens of Time
Time: Mon – Fri 12PM-7PM | Sat – Sun & PH 11AM-8PM

3. Craft your own tote bag to learn the six pillars of total defence

Pop quiz: What are the six pillars of total defence? If you’re struggling to answer this, it’s high time you paid a visit to Totes, et al. Defence Showcase, situated at the entrance of the Singapore Discovery Centre.

totes et al defence exhibit

The colourful installations of giant spools of thread and totes doubling up as lanterns will make for a good photo op. But don’t just snap away to get your IG shot. Take a moment to read up on how Total Defence requires individual efforts in a united front.

six pillars of defence

Using the analogy of individual threads being woven to form different fabrics, this exhibit will give you a clearer idea of how Military, Civil, Economic, Social, Digital and Psychological defence work together to form Total Defence.

diy tote bag

With your newfound knowledge on Total Defence, you’ll then be able to unleash your creativity in crafting your own tote bag themed around the exhibit using stick-on patches and markers.

Totes, et al. Defence Showcase
Date: 15th January – 27th March
Time: Mon – Fri 12PM-7PM | Sat-Sun & PH 11AM-8PM

4. Experience Singaporean stories through films

When Total Defence is discussed, the military or civil pillars are usually the first that come to mind. However, social and psychological are just as important in building up Singapore’s resilience.

Catch these two pillars in action through a series of short films playing at the iWERKS Theatre for free. They capture what it means to live in harmony with each other, in the interest of the nation.

These local stories will tug at your heartstrings with relatable tales of reunion dinners, losing a loved one in a pandemic, and even the dilemma of putting nation before family. Trust us when we say to bring tissues.

Date: 15th January – 27th March

Missed Calls
Date: 14th February – 27th March

Date: 14th February – 27th March

5. Learn to survive at the When It Was Syonan-To Dramatised Tour

Stories from my grandmother about surviving WWII included having to forage for sweet potatoes and rationing rice when there was a food shortage. These were just some of the ways she practised to survive the war.

when it was syonan-to dramatised tour
Image credit: Singapore Discovery Centre

If you think you’ve got the chops to survive, you might just pull through on the When It Was Syonan-To Dramatised Tour. Part guided tour and part interactive performance piece, you’ll be transported 80 years back in time to aid a fellow war survivor to locate his missing sister. History knowledge isn’t required, but listen out for clues during the tour to help your quest along.

When It Was Syonan-To Dramatised Tour
Date: 12th & 26th February, 12th & 26th March
Time: 12PM and 2PM
Price: $10 (member), $12 (non-member)

Book When It Was Syonan-To Dramatised Tour

Total Defence activities at Singapore Discovery Centre

This is just the tip of the iceberg to what else you can do at the Singapore Discovery Centre to pick up your knowledge of Total Defence. There’s lots more for guests of all ages to participate in while they’re here, such as craft activities, and gallery tours. Plus, these activities are all free.

Tank You Singapore! Paper Tank
Date: 15th February – 27th March
Time: Mon – Fri 12PM-7PM | Sat & Sun 11AM-7PM

Defence through the Ages Guided Tour
Date & Time: 13th-15th February 12PM, 2PM, 4PM and 6PM | 27th February, 13th & 15th March 12PM and 2PM

xd theatre ride

For something more thrilling, the Singapore Discovery Centre is also hosting two exclusive XD Theatre Rides just for Total Defence Day. Each will show the capabilities of Singapore’s armed forces and how they work together to protect our little red dot.

XD Theatre Ride
Date & Time: 15th February 12PM-7PM (30MIN intervals) | 19th February – 27th March Sat & Sun 11AM-7PM (30MIN intervals)

If there’s one thing we’ve learnt, it’s that defence doesn’t solely rely on our soldiers or the government. It’s a nationwide effort that ensures the security of our land. Experience the six pillars of defence yourself by dropping by the Singapore Discovery Centre to explore their exhibitions.

Once you’ve done so, come 15th February this year, you’ll gain better appreciation for that 6.20PM siren.

Find out more about Singapore Discovery Centre events here

This post was brought to you by Singapore Discovery Centre.
Photography by Doreen Fan.