Tag Archives: informal science education

Mind Museum opens in the Philippines

The model for The Mind Museum at Taguig (Philippines) is gorgeous.

Philippines Mind Museum (at Taguig)

Christina Chaey’s Nov. 21, 2011 news bit about the museum for Fast Company notes a number of architectural features including one grass roof and another roof designed to prevent wind tunneling by directing gusts upward.

The Mind Museum’s About page lists five galleries,

  1. The Story of the Universe: Its Beginning and Majesty
  2. The Story of the Earth: Its Story Across the Breadth of Time
  3. The Story of Life: The Exuberant Varieties of Life
  4. The Story of the Atom: The Strange World of the Very Small
  5. The Story of Technology: The Showcase of Human Ingenuity

in an indoor exhibition area of approximately 3560 sq metres. There is also an 800 sq metre Science in the Park area immediately adjacent to the museum. (I’m betting they have some information about nanotechnology as part of the ‘Story of the Atom’.)

There were some 50 designers and scientists involved in this museum. The lead architect was Ed Calma of Lor Calma Design Inc.  The museum was scheduled to open Dec. 15, 2011 and the event was covered by Dexter R. Matilla for the Philippine Daily Enquirer in a Dec. 21, 2011 article,

For so long, the arts have been the driving force for the city of the Bonifacio Global City (BGC). Larger-than-life pieces from some of the country’s top artistic names make up BGC’s Art Walk. With the opening of The Mind Museum at Taguig, it’s safe to say that the Arts and Sciences finally have a place all their own.

The Mind Museum was made possible through private donations from corporate sponsors, family and individual donors who believe in giving the Philippines a center for the public understanding of science, in particular science at its most basic.

“Science is all about understanding how things work,” said The Mind Museum’s managing director Manny Blas. “People need to understand the basic science. What is a cell or a DNA? What makes up the universe? How do telescopes or MRI work? If you understand the principles of science, you know how to apply it. If students can come in here and then go out and consider becoming a scientist or an engineer, then we would have done our job.”

The country’s first world-class science museum is a P1 billion project that had inputs in its planning stage from international experts like Jack Rouse and Associates and the Science Centre Singapore. Its futuristic yet organic design, however, is by a team of architects from Lor Calma & Partners headed by architect Ed Calma.

I gather the Dec. 15, 2011 opening is a ‘soft’ opening as the museum website notes that it is being opened to the public in March 2012.

BC’s Year of Science and its $1.1M legacy

The Year of Science in British Columbia (Canada) is almost over and in its final days the provincial government’s initiative is gracing Science World in Vancouver and the Pacific Institute of Mathematical Sciences, also in Vancouver, with $1M and $100K respectively for outreach projects. From the Year of Science July 4, 2011 news release,

The Province is wrapping up the Year of Science with a $1.1-million investment to create a legacy of science education for British Columbia youth helping prepare them for jobs in the knowledge-based economy of the future.

Science World will receive $1.0 million to support outreach programs such as the Program for Awareness and Learning of Science, [emphasis mine] focussed on improving interest in science for students in grades kindergarten through eight. Additionally, the Pacific Institute for Mathematical Sciences will receive $100,000 to support targeted programs, including math camps and mentorship programs, focussed on improving educational outcomes for Aboriginal students in math.

I’m glad to see this money is going to outreach programmes. In my search for more details about them,  I was surprised to find that Science World does not have a news release of their own about these funds; I was less surprised about the Pacific Institute of Mathematical Sciences but given the time frames for these sorts of announcements which can run over weeks and months, it seems odd.

I also searched for Science World’s Program for Awareness and Learning of Science and couldn’t find it on their website. They do have many programmes that could fit under that title but their website search engine (it doesn’t seem like a very good one) did not produce any results.

I find the choice of fund recipients  interesting and wonder what the criteria were and which other informal science education institutions/groups in the province were being considered for these fund.

In any event, I hope we hear more about these outreach projects from Science World and the Pacific Institute of Mathematical Sciences as they progress.

Nano exhibit at Hong Kong Science Museum

I was glad to find information about an exhibition,  Nanotechnology, at the Hong Kong Science Museum’s Science News Corner from June 24, 2011 to August 31, 2011. My material is so often Canada- US- UK- Europe-centric (especially in the areas of  informal science education and science communication)  that it’s a relief to find something outside that circle. I believe my problem to be largely due to my language skills. I do most of my work in English, occasionally get hold of something in French, and very occasionally make reference to something in Spanish/Italian/German as I can pick out a few words in those languages.

So happily here’s something from Hong Kong, from the June 24, 2011 news item on the 7th Space Interactive website,

To enable the public to learn more about nanotechnology, a brand new exhibition entitled “Nanotechnology” will be held by the Hong Kong Science Museum at its Science News Corner from today (June 24) until August 31. The exhibition, with content provided by the research teams of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), introduces the insights gained from research on nanotechnology.

There are no descriptions of specific exhibits but there are these descriptions of nanotechnology possibilities and how HKUST is working towards them.

Smart windows can have many applications. They can be used to control indoor light and temperature in the next-generation residential and industrial buildings, for example.

HKUST has also developed new microneedle patches that have been proven safe in their use of high-strength nanoporous materials. Microneedle patches can maximise therapeutic effects and minimise skin trauma.

They can turn painful vaccinations into a thing of the past.

There are many teams working on smart windows these days as I noted in several postings including my March 12, 2010 posting (scroll down about 1/2 way for the story about a Dutch company working on smart windows), my May 14, 2010 posting where I discuss the Dutch company again and a Vancouver-based company,  and in my July 21, 2010 posting about a team working at the University of South Florida.

As for the microneedle patches, I wonder if HKUST is working with Mark Kendall’s team in Australia. I find the descriptions a bit puzzling as they are mixing together the micro and nano scales. Kendall’s team (mentioned in my Oct. 29, 2010 posting) is getting ready to commeicialize a nano vaccine patch.

Here are details about admission prices and times:

The Science Museum is located at 2 Science Museum Road, Tsim Sha Tsui East. It opens from 1pm to 9pm from Monday to Wednesday and on Fridays, and from 10am to 9pm on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays.

It is closed on Thursdays (except public holidays). Admission is $25 with half-price concessions for full-time students, people with disabilities and senior citizens aged 60 or above. Admission is free on Wednesdays.

I’m not sure about the currency quoted and was not able to get more detail from the Hong Kong Science Museum website. Presumably these are Hong Kong dollars.

Informal science education, DARPA and NASA style

I like to mention imaginative science education projects from time to time and this one caught my attention. The US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) are offering students the opportunity to have one of their experiments tested under live conditions in outer space. From the Kit Eaton June 20, 2011 article (How NASA, DARPA Are Keeping Kids Interested In Space),

To keep folks interested [now that the Space Shuttle era is over], NASA and DARPA are pushing (a little) money into a program that’s directly aimed at students themselves.

Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites (SPHERES) are an existing experiment that uses tiny ball-shaped robots that fly inside the International Space Station. They test techniques for keeping real satellites maneuvering in sync so that they can rendezvous and work as part of a swarm–a task that’s useful for autonomous satellite servicing, and even the building of future spacecraft.

The offer that NASA’s making is that if you design an interesting experiment, and it wins their approval, it’ll be used to fly the SPHERES robots for real. In space.

There are more details about the 2011 SPHERES Challenge tournament at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Zero Robotics website. Here’s a little of the information available on that site,

“Zero Robotics” is a robotics programming competition that opens the world-class research facilities on the International Space Station (ISS) to high-school students. Students will actually write programs at their High School that may control a satellite in space! The goal is to build critical engineering skills for students, such as problem solving, design thought process, operations training, and team work. Ultimately we hope to inspire future scientists and engineers so that they will view working in space as “normal”, and will grow up pushing the limits of engineering and space exploration.

They’ve had annual challenges since 2009 and this year’s is the SPHERES challenge. There are six stages to this year’s competition,

The 2011 SPHERES Challenge tournament has 6 stages:

  1. Learn to program / tutorials / initial programming
  2. 2D Simulation: the game will be played in 2-dimensions. All teams will submit a player and will compete, in a full round robin simulation, against all other teams. Their score will count towards elimination later on, but no teams will be eliminated in this round.
  3. 2D Ground Competition: the top scorers from the 2D simulation will see their players compete against each other on the SPHERES ground satellites, learning directly some of the important differences between simulation and real hardware. Scores in this round will not count towards elimination, as not all teams will compete. All teams will be able  to watch the competition at MIT via webcast.
  4. 3D Simulation: all participating teams will extend their game to 3 dimensions and submit their final individual player. MIT will run a full round robin simulation. The score of this round will be combined with the score of the 2D simulation to seed all teams.
  5. 3D Semi-Finals: the top 48 teams will be required to form alliances of 3 teams per player, creating a total of 16 players. Preference will be given to the choices of higher seeds. These alliances will compete in a full round-robin simulation. The top scoring players/alliances will be invited to submit an entry for the ISS finals.
  6. ISS Finals: the top 9 players of the semi-finals will be invited to participate in the ISS finals (a total of 27 teams, as there will be 3 teams per player).  Teams may visit MIT to see the live feed, or watch via the webcast. Players will compete in a bracketed round-robin aboard the ISS and a champion will be declared.   (note: date depends on astronaut time availability)

This is a competition for US high school students from grades 9 – 12.  The application deadline is Sept. 5, 2011.