Saturday, July 31, 2010

Singapore Science Festival 2010

James Soper was invited to give his popular show "Bending It Like Beckham"It's the month for science again! I'm a big supporter of science education, so I always go to the science fests. This year the biggest annual science event is called the Singapore Science Festival 2010. You may have known it in previous years as the National Science Month (2001-2009, titled Science.01 to Science.09).

X-periment! kicks off the science month with a three-day (30 Jul - 1 Aug) event at Marina Square central atrium. See liquid body armour, slime-making, chromatography, robots, virtual games, and chemical scent and flavour labs among others! I'll get to those in a while...

There was a good crowd for the show
There's a pretty good crowd for the various shows, with eager volunteers. We saw some kids with special needs at the event too (not necessarily in this photo).

Science educator James Soper shows us why Beckham is a scientific genius
Last year we had Dr Bunhead with his explosive stunts. This year, we have science educator James Soper performing his popular show, "Bending It Like Beckham" showing how scientific laws from Galileo, Newton and Coanda apply to making the best free kick or penalty kick.

Mr Soper demonstrating the Coanda law that fluids like to follow curves - the air blast went around the ball to extinguish the candle flame
There were a lot of interactive demonstrations. This one shows the Coanda effect (fluids like to follow nearby surfaces like curves). The air blast went around the ball to extinguish the tiny candle flame shielded by the large ball.

Did you know thick cornstarch stiffens upon impact, and thus make a great Kevlar substitute?
I also saw thick cornstarch used like I would never believe it. It's soft and fluid at rest, but becomes rigid upon impact - like when it's hit by a bullet. Move over, Kevlar, this is the new bulletproof technology. Shear thickening fluid composite, to be exact. There are applications for flexible body armour, drilling fluid and wheel drive systems using viscous coupling units for power transmission.

Skittles are put into the hammering chamber
Don't believe it? Try it for yourself. Put two M&Ms or Skittles on a board for hammering.

We put a slab of the shear thickening fluid composite on top of the skittles for protection
Place the shear thickening fluid composite slab on top of it - it feels very light and malleable.

The Skittles are undamaged! But not when this is repeated with just regular sponge for protection
Hammer away!!! But the candy remains amazingly unbroken. Not even a crack. You get to repeat the hammering with a regular sponge (above) for comparison, and see that the candy is smashed into smithereens!

Two little girls determined to make slime
You guys must check out the Slime-making exhibit too. Yes, slime! Just mix polyvinyl alcohol with a bit of borax (note slime is not for eating!) and choose your colours. These kids can't wait.

Gooey green goo!
See? Goopy green goo!

This is cool stuff! Literally feels cold!
This stuff is really cool!

Poster on Making Slime - it's all about polymerization
But it's really simple science behind it - polymerization. OK, now you can go make your own slime-filled horror movie.

Chromatography can give you pansies and other flowers
These kids are seeing how black ink disperses into many different colours - great effects for making flowers.

Poster on chromatography
The process is called chromatography.

I was beaten by this test - had trouble telling the green liquid was strawberry-flavoured
There was one exhibit with flavoured drinks for you to sample. But you have to guess what flavour each one is. I was stumped because of the colours (green one is strawberry, and pink one is green apple). Amazing how our brain gets confused when the flavours don't match the colours we are used to tasting.

Try mixing compound to create artificial fragrances
You can also try mixing chemical compounds to concoct fragrances. I made a banana one (three drops of vanilin - one of my favourite scents).

Remote manipulation of a game
There were other displays like some remote manipulation of a game, and also a booth for 3D dancing.

A virtual kick - is this the future of arcade games to come?
And this looks like what arcade games could be like in the future.

Some RoPe-bot? It won 1st prize in the Singapore Robocup 2010 competition
This looks impressive! Some RoPe-bot? It won 1st prize in the Singapore Robocup 2010 competition. I don't know if they do set it loose for a walk, but there's a video demo of it at the site.

Festive science carnival at Marina Square central atrium
There were other booths I didn't get to explore. But X-periment looks like a place to spark kids' interest in science, and also widen adults' knowledge and awareness of scientific applications in our lives.

Hurry, you can still go tomorrow. Meanwhile, check out for other Science Festival program events over the next three weeks. There's a Science Challenge, Gene Fest, Sci-fi Movie Festival and Forum, the Great Mass Activity (record-setting Coke-Mentos geysers!) and a Kids Science Fest.

The Science Fest is jointly organised by A*STAR and Science Centre Singapore.



  1. dang i wish i saw this earlier! it actually seems cool enough for adults too d=

  2. That looked amazing. Nice post.

  3. Chenyze: Yes, actually adults stand to learn a lot from this too!

    Anonymous: Thank you!


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