The Start to Make Every Camper a Maker of Change
Learning about sustainable development in an urban setting – what other place to nurture that spirit in sunny Singapore than at the Science Centre (and at Sustainable Living Lab as well, of course)?
Our kids this time round were Secondary Three students from various secondary schools in Singapore who had signed up for the Shell Singapore Youth Science Festival (SSYSF) Science Camp, in which teams will work together to partake in various challenges posed to them with the aid of science and technology.
As campers gathered around early Monday morning in Science Centre Singapore for the start of the Shell Sustainability Camp yesterday, two of the camp facilitators who were coughing away groaned and suddenly collapsed to the floor and left everyone stunned. It was a virus outbreak (naturally, we were too shocked to take photos)!
Yes – SL2’s at it again – simulating disasters (ha ha)!
As everyone rushed out from the building and sought for solutions at the Eco Garden, campers were split up into three villages and tasked with challenges such as:
- Creating a shelter from canvas sheets for protection
- Produce smoke for disinfection with the help of aluminium trays and matchsticks
- Coming up with a floating farm with lunchboxes and dill, a plant which can neutralize carcinogens found in smoke.
It was interesting to see various group dynamics at work in the respective villages and it was all about trial and error (trying goes a long way!). Whilst setting up a shelter, the structure was a big concern and we saw students trying to build a horizontal fold-off (which involves the cutting of wooden poles to make it a different length) so as to drain water off the canvas when it rains as well as prevent smoke from escaping the tent. Students also thought of building a base for the tent from the middle for further support. When burning fresh grass did not keep the fire going, dried leaves and twigs were used instead. Instead of stacking the twigs on top of each other, a student tried placing the twigs around the fire for containment instead (brilliant!). Campers also cracked their heads and tried to think of ways to filter pond water to make it cleaner with charcoal and sand. Despite limited resources, everyone managed to work something out for their villages, and also shared what they did with everyone else. Some campers even found out ways to improve the filter process by using resources around them, such as cotton from cotton plants, and even the masks they were wearing!
Support from village facilitators was of utmost importance too, as campers tried various ways and did not manage to succeed. Raflee, one of the Village 1 facilitators, had been continuously providing energy to his team through constant cheering. He, along with the other facilitators, Jeffrey and Shahir, had been very proud of what their village presented to the other campers.
The rest of the day continued with interesting activities such as sketching and mind-mapping classes, watching a short film at the Science Centre before embarking on a bus tour to the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) College West!
We had an insightful journey with Mr Tay Khee Whee, Senior Technologist from Mechatronics in the School of Engineering as he shared inventions with us in the lab, ranging from solar cars and green toilets to fire-fighting robots and upcycled vacuum cleaners. Many campers were very intrigued to see the inventions to display, and were laughing away at Uncle Tay’s great sense of humour (we were told we could call him that)!
It was very encouraging to hear Mr Tay share many of his thoughts and practices as an educator and lifelong learner. “I still visit the Science Centre often and am always learning something, even at the age of 61,” he said with a hearty laugh. Uncle Tay goes green too and does not believe in throwing things away (when it can still be used for something else). He says that to save the earth, we need to minimize throwing things away. Perhaps this is why his office has a lot of junk (which can be upcycled into something even better, like the vacuum cleaner which has been converted into a toolbox cum extension cord)!
Mr Tay also had words of encouragement for his audience. “I believe all of us have potential! Don’t be quick to say ‘wow, this is nice, but I don’t think I can do it’. Push your system for failure and keep trying! Even for me, I am still learning from my students today,” Mr Tay continued with a smile.
Problem-solving is all about teamwork, communication and making good use of the resources we see around us for the better good. Based on the feedback from campers yesterday, we were glad to know that they had respective take-aways for the day. It can be knowing more about themselves, learning how to work and communicate with each other, realizing that science is very much prevalent in our daily lives, not to look down on ourselves (wow, someone had remembered Uncle Tay’s words of wisdom!), the importance of helping others, being more confident, sketching out ideas, and more more.. the list goes on!
It has been a lovely day at the Science Centre seeing how students made new friends from other secondary schools and come together to accomplish a common goal. We folks at SL2 hope that the friendship established through this platform will keep on shining brightly for the next few days of camp that is yet to come! Together, we can do much more…
As we quote from a short film we enjoyed at the Science Centre titled ‘Take to the Skies’, “it all began with a dream. What’s yours?”
Stay tuned to our updates during the week as we move forth with Days 2 to 4 of the Shell Sustainability Camp on 23, 25, and 26 October 2013! Let’s keep in mind the six Rs of sustainability – Rethink. Refuse. Reduce. Reuse (perhaps those Milo boxes from teabreak can be of use too). Repair. Recycle!
This event is brought to you by Shell, Science Centre Singapore, Science Teachers Association of Singapore, and supported by the Ministry of Education.