Science and Technology are vital to human society. It was Science and Technology that allowed the various global powers to dominate at different stages of their development,
(here’s a video series from China that was produced to try and understand the rise and fall of the Great Powers of the world over different eras)
it was also Science and Technology that let humans leap from agricultural to industrial societies.
Beyond the economic message (well this is Singapore, the economic message matters) understanding the world we live in is fun! Science allows us to be investigators in things that excite us and cartographers of the many aspects of the world we don’t yet about, and there are many.
Science is very important at both a personal and societal level, and it should not be confusing and intimidating just because we don’t do it for a living, discovery is not spelt with a PhD, and scientists have come to realise that communicating with fellow scientist is not enough. That’s why scientific communication and education is really important.
Like all things that we want to communicate with people, the medium has to be fun. Examinations have the tendency to strip fun from learning, and since its not fair to expect parents to communicate science the public needs to have institutions of such good.
Apart from the Universities, one of the most important places for science education and communication in Singapore is the Science Centre (SCS), because the SCS does science that is fun.
SCS was formerly a part of the National Museum of Singapore. It was separated from the latter in 1969 to allow the National Museum to focus on artistic and historical collections. This split enabled the SCS to focus on science, technology and public education instead.
Most of what we know about the public view on science and tehnology is based on a 2015 survey conducted by academics Juliana Chan and Shirley Ho from NTU. The executive summary from the survey concluded that “Singaporeans are thirsty for scientific and technological knowledge that will help them communicate with the people around them. They engage with science news thoughtfully and critically, whether the information conforms to their existing views or not. And most Singaporeans do want to talk to the government about science and technology policies, although fewer people are willing to engage with the scientists themselves.”
Interestingly 56.3 % of the respondents felt that Singapore depended too much on science and not enough on faith. However with the exception of this point, nothing else suggests that anti-intellectualism is taking root in Singapore.
The building design was chosen from an architectural design competition and extensions have been added to the Science Centre over the years. There are also funky art-science installations all over the Science Centre area.
Visitors are also encouraged to try basic science and be a Scientist for a Day.
As a neuroscientist, this was my favourite exhibition.
All in, the Science Centre is definitely good for 4 to 5 hours of good fun. A great way to spend the day. The present science centre will be moved by 2020 with a newer one to come, so its a great excuse to check this one out and then to check the new one when that comes on-stream too!
How to get there