By Anna Valmero Exposing the youth to interactive exhibits can inspire their curiosity in science and some concepts work. “Learning can take place with just 2 minutes of exposure to science exhibits,” says Philippine Foundation for Science and Technology (PFST) executive director May Pagsinohin. The Philippine Science Centrum is a flagship program of the PFST. By interacting with the exhibits, students and adults can play with the devices and explore how they work, Pagsinohin says. The Science Centrum houses about 150 interactive and integrative exhibits that students can explore to discover the science behind them. Now four years after moving from UP Manila, the 18-year old Science Centrum is now located at the Riverbanks Center in Marikina. It occupies a warehouse with a floor area of about 2,500 square meters. Before the year ends, there are plans to open a space and biotechnology galleries, she says. For the space gallery, the Department of Science and Technology has recently released P1.5 million, according to Pagsinohin. This would be allotted for the in-house development of exhibits, such as the human gyroscope and constellation display as well as the plan to order a spacesuit from NASA. As I toured the science museum, it was like reviving vague memories of childhood awe in exploring several of the classic displays. During my tour, two exhibits caught my eye: the Van de Graaff generator and the Tesla Coil. Invented in 1931, the Van de Graaff generator has a sphere that when touched by the hands supplies positive charges to the body and makes the hair stand on end due to positive charges on the strands repelling each other. The Tesla Coil is a resonant transformer that generates high voltage, low current alternating current that looks like lightning. Other exhibits feature how natural phenomenon like the cyclones, tsunami and whirlpools are formed. Favorite exhibits of students include the classics anti-gravity mirror, symmetroscope, ring bubbles, floating head, frozen hand, finger tingler and Archimedes’ screw (a machine for raising water). Fore less than a hundred bucks, anyone can access the center’s 10 exhibit galleries: lights, vision and perception, water, earth science, electricity and magnetism, children’s gallery, bodyworks and mechanics. The price is comparatively cheap compared to what you can learn and discover after a one-and-a-half hour tour. The center also offers traveling exhibits such as Adventures in Discovery, Sci-Fun Caravan and Science on the Move, which feature 40 replicas of PSC’s interactive exhibits. The moving exhibits tours the countryside - reaching 86 locations in the country -- to reach various individuals, communities and organizations who cannot visit Manila. All exhibits were developed by six Filipino designers under the PSC Fabrication Inc. The in-house team designs, builds and repairs the science exhibits using local materials. Every month, the maintenance cost allotted for repair of exhibits at the centrum and the traveling exhibits reaches P50,000, says Pagsinohin. Having an in-house team also allows for cheaper exhibit development. The team has created a Van de Graaff generator way for half of its total market cost, says Pagsinohin. The team also fabricates replicas of science centrum exhibits for shipment in local and overseas. International clients include Australia, Brunei, Singapore and Nepal. This provides the Science Centrum an alternative source for operating expenses aside from foundation grants, she adds. About 95 percent of visits at the Philippine Science Centrum are from school field trips, family visits account for the remaining 5 percent. Since 1990, the science museum has attracted close to 3 million visitors. Department of Education Secretary Jesli Lapus in a recent memo encouraged visits to the center for educational field trips. However, Pagsinohin says students on field trips often visit less educational institutions today as itineraries more often include amusement parks. She said if students and teachers are exposed to educational exhibits, it could help spark their curiosity to study science more and in the long run, help freshen up the local talent pool of scientists. “Through exhibits, students both the young and old, can learn things through hands-on discovery,” she says.
Recently in Simulation Category
By Allison Lopez Inquirer MANILA, Philippines--They may not see a night sky filled with stars from their homes in the city, but an amazing simulation of one inside the Planetarium in Manila certainly made kids scream and clap their hands in wonder and perhaps, in appreciation. “Ang galing (It’s great)!” said a girl from the Industrial Valley school in Marikina City as she and her classmates stared at the bright dots moving slowly on the ceiling. “It’s an exact copy of the real night sky,” said Bel Pabunan, officer in charge of the Planetarium division. “Here in Metro Manila, the kids don’t see a night sky like that because of pollution and bright lights. But with the Goto Projector, we can simulate the night sky and project the planets and other deep space objects like satellites.” The construction of a planetarium was conceived by former National Museum director Godofredo Alcasid Sr. who proposed it to former First Lady Imelda Marcos in the early 1970s. The dome-shaped building with a 300-seating capacity on Padre Burgos Street in Ermita district, a few meters away from Rizal Park, took nine months to build and was formally inaugurated on Oct. 8, 1975. Still in operation Today, the aging structure may seem like one of the city’s abandoned buildings although the Planetarium is still very much operational. Pabunan said they often draw elementary and high school students to their four daily shows that take spectators on a trip out of this world. Called “Journey to the Solar System, an interplanetary adventure,” the show kicks off with a “sunset” -- which is when the lights dim and the wonderful night sky is shown. It ends with “sunrise,” when the lights brighten, complete with roosters crowing in the background. While the star projector, a large machine in the theater’s center, is the Planetarium’s “heart,” slide projectors complement the lecture by showing stark features of the heavenly bodies, including Mercury’s craters and Saturn’s rings. Aside from the major constellations that showed the hunter Orion’s belt, the young audience was also astonished when little by little, the planets grew larger until they seemed within arm’s reach. The lecture, added Pabunan, is updated with recent scientific advances such as Pluto being classified as a dwarf planet. Sometimes, however, the visual effects drown out the narrator’s hypnotic voice. According to Pabunan, they are currently developing another feature on “The Ring Planets” which are composed of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Pluto. “Our real purpose is to disseminate information and complement textbooks in schools, but we present it in a way that we show their real features and colors,” said the senior museum researcher. Renovation of the 32-year-old structure, she revealed, was also long overdue and will begin before December. The first rehabilitation was done in 1991 after the inner dome that served as the screen collapsed due to old age and the effects of the earthquake the year before. “We’re due for a repair of the ceiling leakages and offices, plus some repainting. More than that, we want to change the exhibits because ever since, these have not been updated,” she said, adding that the Planetarium would remain open during the restoration which would take 150 days. P4-M renovation The rehabilitation would cost around P4 million, she said, excluding the updating of the exhibits. Outside the theater, indeed, were exhibits on comets, meteorites and space explorations that featured yellowing photographs. Aside from being outdated, they hardly generated interest among the visitors. Given the funds, Pabunan said they would create more interactive exhibits and modernize the current ones with interesting tidbits. Photo displays would be part of Phase 1 while hands-on exhibits would form part of Phase 2. But for schools and other institutions whose students are unable to go to the Planetarium, a mobile version will soon be coming their way. Pabunan said that although the 4x4 meter mobile Planetarium could only accommodate 30 people at a time, it may be a cheaper alternative to hiring buses and paying the entrance fee. Lectures on outer space would also be held simultaneously with the mobile Planetarium that has reached only as far as Isabela province. Pabunan, however, hoped that even students from Visayas and Mindanao would soon experience the wonders of the universe, even through the smaller version of the Planetarium. The Planetarium is open from Tuesday to Saturday with shows at 9-10 a.m., 10:30-11:30 a.m., 1:30-2:30 p.m. and 3:30-4:30 p.m. Admission fee is P30 for students and P50 for adults. Call +632 5277889 for more details.
WHEW, where can I get one of these goggles, heh. Here's an excerpt from the Agence France-Presse story:
YOKOHAMA, Japan--Japanese scientists who want to be in tune with their work can now stand in the eye of a typhoon or observe close-up walls of whirling wind -- with the help of some goggles.
In what is billed as unique technology, Japanese researchers have created three-dimensional images from stocks of data culled over the years and fed into computers. "Thanks to this system, we can discover so much more new data -- it's like discovering diamonds!" said Tetsuya Sato, a professor who heads the project at the state-run Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology.