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Science Centre 'ripe for a transformation'

It could become the place of kids' dreams, say parents, experts

Published on Aug 22, 2014 11:10 AM
The Exploratorium, a museum of science, art and human perception at San Francisco's waterfront, aims "to change the way the world learns". -- PHOTO: NEW YORK TIMES

Imagine a place where one could experience the zero gravity of outer space, or the biting cold of an Arctic winter, and where children as young as 18 months could excite all their five senses with games and activities.

If the Science Centre - considered by some to be a dated attraction - was transformed into such a place, could it become the stuff of dreams?

Educators, parents, adventurers and academics certainly hope so.

"When I left the Science Centre, Unesco called it one of the top 10 in the world," said Professor Leo Tan, who was the centre's director from 1982 to 1991. "They need to update and refresh the exhibits... Singaporeans travel the world, so the centre must have something to ignite interest in the jaded visitor," said Prof Tan, who is now director of special projects at the National University of Singapore's (NUS) Faculty of Science.

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Background story

Where science is a fun, sensory experience


The stated mission of this museum of science, art and human perception, founded in 1969, is "to change the way the world learns". The "mad scientist's lab" has been described as the most important science museum to open since the mid-1900s. At the museum, located by the water, visitors can learn how to dissect a cow's eye, puff up giant marshmallows and "taste" San Francisco Bay's water to learn its complex tides.


Despite its beginning as a university project in 1989, this science centre is considered one of the world's best by the US-based Association of Science-Technology Centres. If going on a "moon walk" bores you, you can learn how to build an igloo, watch how coins are made, or marvel at rats playing basketball.


The largest science centre in the Western Hemisphere, this American museum was established in 1933. Eye-popping attractions include a full-size replica of a coal mine and a "tornado" that visitors can control. The limber ones may also clamber through a giant human heart, while the environmentally conscious can learn how food reaches their table from modern-day farms.