5 fun facts about Science Centre, which will get a new home in 2020

Nasa Space Shuttle in Singapore. -- PHOTO: SINGAPORE SCIENCE CENTRE
Nasa Space Shuttle in Singapore. -- PHOTO: SINGAPORE SCIENCE CENTRE
Props used in the Lord of The Rings trilogy which are being showcased at the Singapore Science Centre. -- PHOTO: SINGAPORE SCIENCE CENTRE
Dinosaurs and children at the Science Centre. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
Grossology - The (Impolite Science Of The Human Body) exhibition at the Science Centre. -- PHOTO: SINGAPORE SCIENCE CENTRE
A rapt audience at the Artscape, a four-screen, large-scale multimedia projection which immerses viewers in richly detailed scenes from Pixar’s films. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
The Singapore Science Centre has installed ten sundial sculptures at 10 different locations around Singapore's National Park, including the Science Centre's Fibonacci Terrace and Eco-Garden. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
One of the exhibits at the Dinosaur-Live! exhibition at the Singapore Science Centre. -- PHOTO: SINGAPORE SCIENCE CENTRE
Students looking at the iZ Hero exhibit at the Singapore Science Centre (SSC) on Feb 25, 2014. -- PHOTO: BERITA HARIAN FILE
Children play doctors and physicians at the Sen-sation station where they get a chance to don scrubs and wear stretoscopes and examine various body parts at KidsSTOP, Singapore’s first-of-its-kind science centre for children. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
The Giant J- a 7m slide at KidsSTOP where children get to experience the feeling of freefall before sliding in safety. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
Children having fun at KidsSTOP, a new children's science centre. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
Children taking a glimpse at the popular chick hatchery at KidsSTOP™, Singapore’s first-of-its-kind science centre for children. -- PHOTO: BERITA HARIAN FILE
A portion of the items found in a time capsule at the Science Centre in Jurong. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
A visitor getting a close look at items in a time capsule at the Science Centre on Nov 27, 2012. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
It was down memory lane for Dr Toh Chin Chye, as he retrieved a technical education report and the University of Singapore development plans from the 1973 Times Science Capsule at the Science Centre. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
The view of the proposed location for the new Science Centre just beside the Chinese Gardens MRT Station. -- ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG
The Singapore Science Centre at Jurong. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
The Science Centre would soon be relocated to the north of Jurong Lake. -- ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

The good old Science Centre - a must-go place for school excursion trips - will move from its current Jurong Town Hall site, come 2020.

The new Science Centre will be built on the north shore of Jurong Lake, near the Chinese Garden MRT station. It will be the "jewel" of the expanded Jurong Lake Gardens, which will combine the existing Chinese and Japanese gardens and Jurong Lake Park, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the National Day Rally on Sunday.

Education Minister Heng Swee Keat will be setting up a committee to "re-imagine and develop" the new centre.

We look at 5 fun facts about the Science Centre:

1. It turns 37 this year

The centre opened on Dec 10, 1977. It was first conceived of way back in 1968 when the idea of museums as informal education centres was still untested. The idea was to have basic science topics and industrial wonders such as oil exploration explained to students in exhibits, in the hope of inspiring them to take up careers in the field.

Believed to be the first centre of its kind in South-east Asia, it was estimated then to cost more than $9.5 million to build. Over the years, some 29.5 million students have visited the centre.

2. It could have been located in city centre

Unknown to many, Dempsey and Fort Canning were once identified as sites for the Science Centre. But it was eventually given a 6ha land in Jurong, which offered more room for expansion than the two city-centre locations.

3. It looks like a spaceship? It's actually inspired by pyramids

A competition was organised by the Science Centre Board in 1970 to design the centre. Young architect Raymond Woo, who won the competition, said he had thought of Egypt's pyramids to come up with its spaceship-like look. The design was aimed at enticing young scientists and schoolchildren.

4. It was supposed to move earlier

In 2008, then National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan announced plans to build a new Science Centre in the Jurong Lake district. It was revealed that the centre would be sited next to the Chinese Garden MRT station.

But plans were put on hold because of budget constraints. More recently, work on the new centre was deferred because of the foreign labour crunch which led to several public construction projects being postponed.

The delay, however, did not stop the centre from refreshing its exhibits and facilities.

In June this year, it launched a new children's science centre. The 3,000 sq m wing has features to encourage learning through interactive play, such as a 7m slide for kids to learn about gravity, a sandpit where they can play palaeontologists by unearthing fake dinosaur bones and a flight simulator.

It is also planning other new attractions such as a digital planetarium and a virtual aquarium.

5. It has a time capsule that dates back to 1973

Did you know there's a time capsule lying somewhere in a quiet corner of Science Centre?

The Science Time Capsule is kept above ground in a quiet corner of the Kinetic Garden behind McDonald's restaurant at the centre. It was sealed in 1973 to commemorate the laying of the centre's foundation stone. Since then, it has been opened three times - in 1983, 2001 and 2012 - with new mementoes added each time.

The 1.5m-tall cylinder is a metre in diameter and has 10mm-thick stainless steel walls. Before it is sealed, air is pumped out of the capsule and replaced with nitrogen to extend the lifespan of the contents.

The items were selected based on their impact on Singaporeans' lives.

Some of the items entombed in 1973 include a Hewlett Packard calculator - a ground-breaking invention then - a cassette recorder, portable television, and a Rollei 35 miniature viewfinder film camera that was made in Singapore for the global market.

In 1983, items added include Seiko's television wristwatch, which had live broadcasts on an LCD screen embedded in the watch face, Tiger Balm, six cans of curried beef and Sarsi bottles.

In 2001, Creative Nomad Jukebox and a Digital IXUS camera were among the mementoes added.

The capsule was opened again in November 2012, and sealed in 2013 with 70 items added. Among them a StarHub mobile broadband USB stick, models of a concept car from BMW Asia, and the packagings of two ice-cream flavours invented by Nanyang Polytechnic students.

How many items are there in the time capsule now? More than 700!

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