Track the panda at Science Festival

SINGAPORE - Lessons in panda research, circus tricks, the science behind fireworks and a new musical called Sex Cells - these are some of the highlights of the Singapore Science Festival which opens today and runs until Aug 3.

The annual festival's 14th edition will feature performances, lectures, musicals and experiments for people of all ages. Events will be held at the Science Centre and other venues such as the nex and Marina Square shopping malls.

In a first, people can sign up for a workshop at the River Safari to learn how to be a panda researcher. They will learn how to identify panda tracks and examine panda droppings and paw prints in the 11/2-hour session. Dr Alison Woollard from Oxford University will give a lecture on how cells grow, divide and die, while entertainer Rhys Thomas will perform his Science Circus show.

The tongue-in-cheek musical Sex Cells, written by Science Centre Singapore chief executive Lim Tit Meng for this year's festival, aims to help its young audience understand how life is created.

Popular events from previous editions will also return. The X-periment! Carnival - which runs from today to Sunday at the Marina Square central atrium - will feature interactive experiments from different institutes and companies. American science entertainer Jeffrey Vinokur, nicknamed "The Dancing Scientist", will also put on half-hour shows on all three days at the carnival.

The festival will also have the Singapore Mini Maker Faire at the National University of Singapore and the Senja-Cashew Community Centre. This will include 3D cardboard dinosaur sculptures and home-made robots. Professor Alfred Huan, executive director of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research's Graduate Academy, said the festival shows "science is not confined to the laboratory".

The Science Centre's Associate Professor Lim added: "This year's festival revamps the way we look at scientists today - whether they are celebrities, citizen scientists, budding scientists or established ones - to reinforce the fact that science is fun and fulfilling."