Review of Sci-sational Christmas at Science Centre Singapore

In a nutshell, Sci-sational Christmas offers value-for-money interactive family festive fun.

Open from 1 to 25 Dec 2019 at the Annexe of Science Centre Singapore, visitors will enter 3 main activity zones:

Zone 1: Hot vs Cold Experiments

Watch as two "elves" try to outdo each other by performing scientific demonstrations based on opposing ends of the temperature range - under very carefully controlled conditions of course.

The number of asterisks show the loudness of the explosion. The heat experiments in the "Fuel Efficiency Department" are:

  1. Lighting of a hydrogen balloon (**),
  2. Lycopodium powder combustion (*), and
  3. Ethanol-powered propulsion (***)

Over at the "Alternative Energy Department", the elf tried to impress us with:

  1. Boiling of liquid nitrogen, increasing gas pressure to burst a balloon (***),
  2. Liquid nitrogen propelled plastic bottle rocket (*), and
  3. Liquid nitrogen cloud formation with hot water

To me as a science teacher, these experiments would have made the tickets worth the money already. After all, demonstrations like these are usually the highlight of science museums all over the world. But there are more...

Zone 2: Scented Candle Making

After exiting the first workshop, visitors are brought to the candle making workshop. We were each given a rubber mould, some melted soy wax, colouring and a few drops of liquid scents to make our own Christmas tree candles.

Do take care not to add too much colouring or the tree may not freeze evenly and hence, break easily. On hindsight, I should have used mainly non-coloured wax with a little green colouring for the base of the candle (to pour in last) to get a snow-covered Christmas tree.

Zone 3: Escape Room

The escape room offers plenty of fun for the kids in the group. There are clues planted all over Santa's office and the session is facilitated by an "elf". The aim is to unlock a number lock under the fireplace in the office for the kids to crawl out from.

There is a secret door for the grown-ups, though, so we need not worry about our outfit or painful knees.

The only downside is that visitors are placed in groups of 15-20, most of whom are strangers - unless you register as a big group of friends. However, most kids would often get quite involved and interactive despite not knowing one another.

I highly recommend this activity for families with kids aged 5-12. At a price of $15 that includes general admission to the Science Centre, it is far more worthwhile than a conventional escape room experience in Singapore and is something my own kids find meaningful and exciting.

I have a feeling that the Science Centre might organise more escape-room styled activities in future as they are quite the craze nowadays.

Visitors might want to note that the 3 zones would last a total of about 50 min. The entry timings are: 11AM, 12NOON, 1:30PM, 2PM, 2:30PM, 3PM, 3:30PM, 4PM and 4.30PM. You will need to indicate your preferred timing when purchasing the ticket and show up on time at the entrance, which is near the fire tornado exhibit.

Uniform vertical circular motion

The following GeoGebra app simulates the force vectors on an object in uniform vertical circular motion.

A real world example of this would be the forces acting on a cabin in a ferris wheel.

<iframe scrolling="no" title="Vertical Uniform Circular Motion " src="https://www.geogebra.org/material/iframe/id/t5jstqsm/width/640/height/480/border/888888/sfsb/true/smb/false/stb/false/stbh/false/ai/false/asb/false/sri/true/rc/false/ld/false/sdz/false/ctl/false" width="640px" height="480px" style="border:0px;"> </iframe>

Vertical Non-Uniform Circular Motion

This is a simulation that shows the vectors of forces acting on an object rolling in a vertical loop, assuming negligible friction.

To complete the loop, the initial velocity must be sufficiently high so that contact between the object and the track is maintained. When the contact force between the object and its looping track no longer exists, the object will drop from the loop.

The following code is for embedding in SLS.

<iframe scrolling="no" title="Vertical non-uniform circular motion" src="https://www.geogebra.org/material/iframe/id/ny3jhhsp/width/640/height/480/border/888888/sfsb/true/smb/false/stb/false/stbh/false/ai/false/asb/false/sri/true/rc/false/ld/false/sdz/false/ctl/false" width="640px" height="480px" style="border:0px;"> </iframe>

Does Hydrostatic Pressure Depend on Container Shape?

The following GeoGebra app simulates a pressure sensor that measures hydrostatic pressure, calibrated to eliminate the value of atmospheric pressure.

The purpose of this simulation is to address certain misconceptions by students such as the assumption that the shape of a container affects the pressure such that the pressure differs in different containers when measured at the same depth.

Drag the dot around to compare the pressure values at the same height between both containers.

The following codes can be used to embed this into SLS.

<iframe scrolling="no" title="Hydrostatic Pressure" src="https://www.geogebra.org/material/iframe/id/wbjduxt7/width/640/height/480/border/888888/sfsb/true/smb/false/stb/false/stbh/false/ai/false/asb/false/sri/true/rc/false/ld/false/sdz/false/ctl/false" width="640px" height="480px" style="border:0px;"> </iframe>

Hydrostatic Pressure and Upthrust

This app is used to demonstrate how a spherical object with a finite volume immersed in a fluid experiences an upthrust due to the differences in pressure around it.

Given that the centre of mass remains in the same position within the fluid, as the radius increases, the pressure due to the fluid above the object decreases while the pressure below increases. This is because hydrostatic pressure at a point is proportional to the height of the fluid above it.

It can also be used to show that when the volume becomes infinitesimal, the pressure acting in all directions is equal.

The following codes can be used to embed this into SLS.

<iframe scrolling="no" title="Hydrostatic Pressure and Upthrust" src="https://www.geogebra.org/material/iframe/id/xxeyzkqq/width/640/height/480/border/888888/sfsb/true/smb/false/stb/false/stbh/false/ai/false/asb/false/sri/false/rc/false/ld/false/sdz/false/ctl/false" width="640px" height="480px" style="border:0px;"> </iframe>

IP3-02-Kinematics

Graphical relationship between acceleration, velocity and displacement

I created the following GeoGebra app to illustrate the relationships between the physical quantities acceleration, velocity and displacement.

  1. Modify the acceleration graph using the two green dots. Notice how the velocity and displacement graphs would change.
  2. You can set the initial values of velocity and displacement using the orange and red dots respectively.
  3. Press "Play" to observe how the object moves. Note: the animation takes place in slow-motion, not in real time.
  4. Uncheck any of the graphs to hide them.

Here are some learning activities you can try out.

  1. Predict the displacement-time graph, following these steps:
    1. Uncheck the displacement-time graph.
    2. Move the two dots on the acceleration-time graph to zero acceleration.
    3. Move the initial velocity to - 10 m s-1.
    4. Predict how the displacement-time graph will look like.
  2. Predict/describe the movement of the object.
    1. Set the dots for acceleration to remain constant for a period of 4 seconds at - 10 m s-2, initial velocity at 20 m s-1, and initial displacement at 0 m.
    2. Predict how the object will move, taking the upward direction as positive.
    3. Press "Play" to verify your answers.

For embedding into SLS:

<iframe scrolling="no" title="Acceleration, velocity and displacement graphs" src="https://www.geogebra.org/material/iframe/id/qpxcs6vb/width/638/height/478/border/888888/sfsb/true/smb/false/stb/false/stbh/false/ai/false/asb/false/sri/true/rc/false/ld/false/sdz/false/ctl/false" width="638px" height="478px" style="border:0px;"> </iframe>

Area under velocity-time graph