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Scientist for a Day

 

For Schools or Large Groups, ...
Whether your school or group is visiting the exhibition only or using the DIY Lab as well, an exhibit-based worksheet is available on request, after booking confirmation. Group Leaders/Teachers are encouraged to preview the exhibition a few days prior to your group's/class' visit. The preview provides the opportunity for preparing any additional materials (such as additional worksheets-questions emphasising specific exhibits, etc) in order to add to and optimise your students' learning experience at the exhibition and at the Science Centre. Please check our many Enrichment Programmes and Gallery Pathways, and their availability through School Services. Please inquire if there are any applicable charges (eg: for non-members, etc).

Click here to view the Exhibition layout.

Click here to view Exhibit Highlights.

Click here to go to our Scientists-in-Attendance page.

Click here to go to our Show Us Your Science page.

Click here to return to the main Scientist For A Day page.


Exhibit Highlights

You Are The Scientist

Every major problem facing modern society has a science and technology component: either as a cause and/or a cure! Whether the problems concern energy, the environment, water or land, epidemics, … or even non-scientific ones such as the economy, … they require careful thinking using scientific analysis, and the scientific method!

Become a Scientist For A Day in our Discover-It-Yourself (DIY) Lab.
  SM-20 : Floor Flowchart with projected prompts. /// Click to return to the top of this page.

SM-02 : Drinking Bird Toys. /// Click to return to the top of this page.   Mysterious Drinking Bird

The drinking bird is a heat engine. It converts a temperature difference between the head and the bulb to a pressure difference, which eventually performs mechanical work.
  • Will the cycle continue if the water is removed?
  • How important is the position of the pivot to the motion?

Touch Plates

Hypothesis
: The metal plate is coldest; the wooden plate is warmest.
Experiment: Touch each plate with the flat of your hand.

Are your predictions/hypotheses correct?
  SM-29-01 : Touch Plates. /// Click to return to the top of this page.

SM-29-02 : RGB Lights. /// Click to return to the top of this page.   RGB Lights

Turn the knobs.
Can you predict the RGB intensities required to produce a desired colour?
In which pre-determined sector?

Occam’s Razor

… helps scientists (and anyone who needs it) to choose the explanation of a phenomenon, which is least complex, and least dependent on other factors, from among many proposed explanations. It indicates the explanation that should be investigated further and says that the most likely “correct” choice
  • takes into account all aspects of the issue, and,
  • has the least number of additional influences and assumptions.
  SM-30 : Occam's Razor. /// Click to return to the top of this page.

SM-25 : Seeing Particles. /// Click to return to the top of this page.   Seeing Particles

Invented by Charles Wilson in 1900, the cloud chamber was the first apparatus to detect sub-atomic particles. Particles passing through it cause vapour trails in the alcohol-in-air atmosphere it contains. These trails can be almost any shape and are unpredictable. Cloud chambers are used to visualise radioactivity. This cloud chamber detects natural radiation.

Now You See Them
Now You Don’t


Bugs that are of the same colour as their background are less visible to predators.

Darwin’s “survival of the fittest” suggests that the less visible bugs will survive to produce the next generation. So gradually, after several generations, the population will evolve to contain more of the camouflaged bugs.
  SM-32 : Now You See Them; Now You Don't. /// Click to return to the top of this page.

SM-35 : Mendel's Experiment. /// Click to return to the top of this page.   The Proof Is In The Experiment

Gregor Mendel (1822–84), an Austrian Monk, worked out a system, in peas, where each characteristic is controlled by a factor we now call genes. Each gene exists in two forms, one dominant over the recessive. Each individual carries two copies of the gene. Only one copy of the dominant has to be present for its characteristic to show.

The Colours Of White Light

Hypothesis
: Colours are added when white light passes through a prism.
Experiment: Newton (1665) blocked all colours except one, then passed it through a second prism.
Result: The single colour was unchanged by the second prism.
Conclusion: This proved that prisms did not add colours.

Newton thus proved that white light comprises colours “mixed” together, and that the prism merely separates them.
  SM-37 : The Colours Of White Light. /// Click to return to the top of this page.

SM-13 : The Big Changes. /// Click to return to the top of this page.   The Big Changes

Thomas Kuhn believed that science advances through revolutionary changes or paradigm shifts. New theories are needed to include newly observed phenomena.

Falsifiability

Karl Popper proposed that scientific hypotheses and theories should be falsifiable, ie contain the possibility of being proven wrong. Once a theory has been falsified, a more suitable one needs to be found. Scientists should always try to prove their theories wrong, rather than continually prove them right.

What Will Happen?

With air in both balloons, the balance is level as the weights are the same. As a burst balloon should weigh less than a still-filled balloon, the balance should dip on the latter side.

With helium-filled balloons, the balance is lifted by the still-filled helium balloon because helium is less dense than air. But shouldn’t the helium-filled balloon weigh more than the burst balloon, and dip, rather than lift its end?
  SM-39 : Helium-filled balloon balance. /// Click to return to the top of this page.

SM-41 : Moving Energy. /// Click to return to the top of this page.   Moving Energy

The released end-ball’s energy is transferred from stationary ball to stationary ball because energy cannot be created or destroyed. The opposite end-ball moves when it receives the energy but no resistance to moving forward. This process is repeated in the reverse when the end-ball swings back. Releasing 2 or more end-balls results in the same number of balls moving off at the other end, for the same reasons. Friction and slightly different balls cause energy losses that slow and finally stop the swings.

Deep Breath

Scientists use models because it can be difficult or dangerous to experiment with the real thing. For example: testing on the human body. Models can be easily changed and measured in an experiment; they may even be damaged by the experiment.

In this model, the glass jar represents the human chest cavity, the balloons are the lungs and the rubber sheet is the diaphragm.
  SM-43 : Deep Breath. /// Click to return to the top of this page.

SM-44 : Democritus' Atomic Model. /// Click to return to the top of this page.   Atomic Models

Modelling the atom began more than 2500 years ago. Less than a century ago, before scientists could split them, atoms were thought to be indivisible. Now we know that atoms are incredibly small: their radii are 30–300 trillionth (10-12) metre , and their nuclei 10,000 times smaller! An atomic nucleus contains positively charged protons, usually bound to chargeless neutrons. The atom is the smallest particle of an element.

How Stable Is It?

Whether electronic-digital or graphical-analogue, readings usually fluctuate – sometimes around an average value – which can cause reading errors. Fluctuations are often the result of random electrical-electronic, environmental, and other variations called noise. To record data accurately scientists must know the sources of noise, and should try to prevent or suppress them where possible.
  SM-46 : How Stable Is It? /// Click to return to the top of this page.

SM-47 : What Is It Exactly? /// Click to return to the top of this page.   What Is It Exactly?

Views that are not directly in front of the pointer give different readings. These are parallax errors. By aligning the pointer over its own image in the mirror, parallax is reduced.

Is It Really True?

Scepticism
is an ever doubting or questioning attitude. An important attribute for any scientist!? Although there is no agreement or definition for what it is, pseudoscience is usually taken to mean “false science”. A pseudoscience is any set of assertions, beliefs and methods that is wrongly considered or propagated as having a scientific foundation. Its arguments are fallacious, roundabout, deceptive, unproven, …

Science is … “organised scepticism”.     Martin Rees
  SM-50 : Is It Really True? /// Click to return to the top of this page.

SM-49 : Which Water? /// Click to return to the top of this page.   Which Water?

Good experiments should keep all variables constant, except the one variable being tested. There should be a “control” case in which every factor is kept at a constant value against which it will be tested later. Experiments always show up more questions and therefore the need for more and better experiments to answer them.

Is this a good experimental design to show whether the animal prefers a particular type of water?

Predictions

This game is designed to simulate the process of hypothesising, experimenting and revising the hypothesis in the light of information gained. The computer selects 3 out of 6 colours, arranges them in a particular order, and hides them from your view. 63 = 216 colour combinations are possible in the first guess. A colour can be selected more than once. Can you deduce the 3 colours?
  SM-33 : Predictions. /// Click to return to the top of this page.

SM-26 : Seeing Beyond The Naked Eye. /// Click to return to the top of this page.   Seeing Beyond The Naked Eye

Scientists use scanning electron microscopes to see very, very small objects, almost in 3D. It works at much higher magnifications and sees things in much greater detail than any light microscope. This is because it uses a beam of electrons which are essentially dimensionless points compared to the wavelengths of light. The electron beam scans across the object surface. The reflected electrons are captured and electronically translated into a picture which is displayed on the monitor.

Exhibition Layout

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