Science as a subject was something I couldn’t exactly grasp. Well, maybe because logic is something alien to me in the first place. And don’t even get me started on how to explain scientific concepts to my children.
I don’t, that’s why my finger is always pointing to their father whenever Ben or Becks asks me the big ‘whys’.
Having said that, I believe in purposeful and experiential play for the kids so that when the day comes when they have to learn a scientific concept, their sensory and playful experiences can quickly help them connect, leading to the Eureka moment.
So when the Singapore Science Centre invited us to experience the Singapore Science Festival 2014 last Saturday, we were all ready to get for ourselves as many experiences and interactions relating to the wonderful world of science as possible.
FIRST STOP: Science Ahoy!
Science Ahoy! is kinda like your geek funfair. You enter it (Annexe Hall 1) taking on the persona of a sailor, and for SGD5 get a survival manual which would help you stay alive in the event of a shipwreck.
You get to learn through engaging activities in the form of stations, and at each station, explore a specific concept that would increase your chances of survival, like using the sun to tell time, boiling psyllium seed husks to make a marmalade substitute, learning the link between buoyant forces, water tension and gravity to move a boat, using area and perimeter to encrypt messages, and understanding why sometimes we can feel the earth moving.
Ben and Becks had a go in making the cross section of the earth. They were given a plastic bowl, some crushed papers, plasticine, a marble and pieces of blue and green felt. With that, those little hands were guided to make the inner and outer core of the earth, its mantle and crust. They learned from this activity that the thickness, state of matter, temperature and materials that make up the layers of our Earth are different! What a clever way to teach these little curious minds!
At another station, Ben and Becks were given a challenge with plasticine. They were asked why despite being the same weight, one plasticine floated around in the water steadily and the other sank.
When we learned that the secret was in its surface area, all of us (including me) got busy moulding our ball of plasticine to make it buoyant. What fun to experience the concept of buoyancy this way!
At yet another station, we were told that the rats have infested the kitchen and the oranges and sugar sacks were gone. With some psyllium seed husks, water and food colouring, the kids concocted jello-like marmalade, and had lots of fun feeling its texture. Who says we can only make jam with sugar and fruit?
Every kid loves slime. Every. This was one of the most crowded stations that morning.
I loved it that despite this being a learning festival for primary school children, the people from the Science Centre and A* STAR, the co-organisers of the festival, were all together so encouraging and patient in getting my young ones to try the activities, as well as explaining to them the concepts in very simple, layman terms. Although my kids weren’t keen enough to go seek out the answers for the other two more challenging activities – the math cryptography and the sun-dial making – I was already very pleased that the Kao kids had acquired for themselves invaluable experiences that would be stored for later use.
- Science Ahoy! is on daily from 9.30am to 6pm, from 11 to 18 July. The recommended time for this is 90 minutes and the $5 fee does not include admission into Science Centre. Accompanying adults go free though.
SECOND STOP: Human Body Experience (HBX)
We’ve seen ads publicising this experience, and the kids were actually very frightened by the thought of being “swallowed alive” by such a huge human mouth. We’ve been told in advance not to come in high heels and to be prepared for a fully immersive experience in terms of sense, sight and sound, and to be ready to crawl and move around a lot.
The journey began with us being “swallowed” by the mouth and sliding down the oesophagus – taking us inside the human anatomy through organs and muscles and the nervous system. We became explorers inside the five main systems of the human body: the circulatory, digestive, immune, nervous and respiratory systems.
It was very intriguing indeed. How wonderfully made we are, and how much detail goes into creating our bodies! I don’t know about you, but it’s in times like this I wonder, how can anyone not believe that there’s a God who made us? There wasn’t any science I could teach my kids and many things were too complex for my preschoolers to understand. I couldn’t answer Ben when he kept asking me, “What’s this? Where’s this? What is this supposed to do?”. I had no simple and clear explanation for my preschoolers when they asked me why there is electricity zapping through the brain. Or how our bodies fight germs. Or why our bones are strong enough to hold up our organs and all. Ben also asked why our intestines are so long and yet can fit snugly in our bodies.
Most of the time, with those questions, I actually answered, I don’t know. God made it so.
But one thing I could tell them for certain that day was: Look at how good God is in making you!
Particularly unforgettable: being suddenly sprayed with mist as we walked through the stomach (to simulate bile) and having to wobble to keep our balance and being all squashed at the interior of the intenstine. The squeezing and squishing took a toll on the little girl towards the end of the journey that by the time we were reaching the anus, she was all shook up and crying. So for the faint-hearted, I’ll have to say, HBX may not be suitable for you.
The boys loved it though (yes, Nat enjoyed the experience!) and so did I, and we wished we could experience again, the next time more slowly and calmly. We were rather frantic given it’s our first time!
- The Human Body Experience is at Hall B in Singapore Science Centre. Admission rates to HBX and Science Centre is SGD20 for adults and SGD15 for children aged 3 to 12 years old.
THIRD STOP: KidsSTOP
If you haven’t already heard, the first of its kind edutainment centre to engage children from preschool to lower primary levels in science is now here. Occupying over 3000 square metres, science can be explored here, playground style. This is like the kid’s version of the Singapore Science Centre (which would probably only start to make sense when you are in Primary 3) and is built especially for children 18 months to 8 years.
My kids loved KidsSTOP. I loved KidsSTOP. We had so much fun and it was a place where my kids didn’t want the fun to stop.
Find out how much fun we’ve had for ourselves at KidsSTOP in the Second Part to this post.
Details on admission charges to KidsSTOP can be found here.
Disclosure: We were invited to the Singapore Science Centre for a Blogger Preview. All opinions here are mine. The fun we had was also ours. The risk we took was also our own. We survived being swallowed and subsequently “passed out” to bring you this story.