Senin, 27 Januari 2014

Side-B of Redang Island: Turtle Conservation

Who would have expected to see turtles at Redang Island – the island for sun and fun! On the flip side though, not many people know there’s a turtle sanctuary that is successfully managed by the Sea Turtle Research Unit (SEATRU), Universiti Malaysia Terengganu at Chagar Hutang.  Green turtles and Hawksbill turtles have been busy heading there and its good news for turtle conservation! It had not been easy getting them to nest and hatch there but its staff and volunteers are seeing the fruits of their labour!

Before we got to see turtles later in the evening, we had a one day stopover at the one and only primary school, SK Pulau Redang.  All 210 students were involved in the science activities we arranged, while their teachers did adult stuffscience learning workshop.  In other words, the whole school was engaged with Petrosains!  Wow!  We’ve never met a bunch of enthusiastic and eager students!  They were treated to an interactive science show (they actively participated), a DIY microscope hands-on activity & quiz called En. Hangman. It was indeed an energetic and deafening but satisfying session! 
Hands-on science activities by Petrosains
The Teachers' Workshop by Educators Centre, Petrosains
The turtle sanctuary was the opposite of what we experienced at SK Pulau Redang.  Chagar Hutang is located on an isolated beach on the most northern part of the island - away from the hustle and bustle of tourist activities.  It is quiet and serene except for the occasional burst of laughter and a flurry of activities from the human residents, which is not many!

The beach is off limits to tourists and casual visitors except for SEATRU researchers, workers and volunteers.  However the numbers are kept to a minimum to keep in check disturbances on the nesting beach.
The real work starts when most people are comfortable in bed, about midnight onwards. There’s a lot of waiting and it involves 9 stages until the wee hours of the morning. 

1. Landing (turtle just coming out from the water)
2. Crawling up the beach
3. Digging body pit
4. Digging egg chamber
5. Laying eggs
6. Covering the egg chamber
7. Sand-bathing (camouflage nest)
8. Crawling back to sea
9. Re-entering sea

During stages 1-5, turtles are very sensitive and may abort nesting if they are disturbed. Hence monitoring is done during these stages.  After the eggs are layed, staff will measure and tag the turtle; and label the nest.  Work doesn’t end here though.  The beach are also patrolled hourly from sunrise to sunset to inspect nests.  It seems like work is never ending!

(Source: SEATRU Volunteer Programme, Juanita Joseph & Liew Hock Chark)

Marking a turtle's nest.
Nesting took place on May 29, 2013
A SEATRU volunteer excavating a turtle’s nest
We were there to observe, and participated to a certain extend.  It was exciting when we saw turtles landing one by one (quite a long wait for each turtle) and later laying eggs.  Most of us never dreamt we’ll get to experience this precious moment.  It was just a handful of us plus the turtle!  Wow!  Powerful!

So folks, if you are looking for something meaningful and one in a lifetime experience, do checkout SEATRU.  You won’t be disappointed!
An interview session with Dr. Juanita Joseph (Project Leader of SEATRU) and Assoc. Prof. Liew Hock Chark (Founder of Sea Turtle Research Unit - SEATRU)

This article is written in conjunction with Science Engagement Session at SK Pulau Redang, Terengganu on 18 June 2013 and our educational visit to the Sea Turtle Research Unit, Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (SEATRU, UMT) on 18-19 June 2013.  Special thanks to Assoc. Prof. Liew Hock Chark (Founder of Sea Turtle Research Unit - SEATRU) and Dr. Juanita Joseph (Project Leader of SEATRU). Our appreciation to SK Pulau Redang.

Senin, 20 Januari 2014

Of Magic & Chemistry

Towards the end of year 2013, we are celebrating the wonders of science and this time it's having fun with chemistry! The theme is called 'Of Magic & Chemistry'. In conjunction with this theme, we are also giving out a 2-in-1 colourful periodic table and 2014 table calendar to visitors.             
There are many activities listed for visitors to try. Did you know that forensic scientists study how ink breaks down into separate colours in order to solve crimes? We call this chromatography. You can give it a try at Petrosains!
In the ‘Zesty Candle’ activity at Petrosains, you can make your own homemade candle. You need half an orange with the insides scooped out and some olive oil! Orange skin contains a flammable oil with a compound called limonene. Limonene gives oranges and other citrus fruits their distinctive smell! The Zesty Candle made from the orange skin and olive oil produces a fresh citrus scent but with all flammable items, so great care must be taken. 
Our fun science demonstrations on chemistry stimulates you to discover how ordinary works of science can be such an exciting and unforgettable experience! The picture below shows our science communicator performing a science show about ‘Combustion’. Basically he is explaining the three elements that is needed to ignite and sustain a fire, which are fuel, heat and oxygen. 

Hope this will change the mindset that we can only learn and do chemistry in a lab. In actual fact we are free to discover chemical reactions at home using everyday materials. But kids, make sure you have parental guidance if dealing with fire! Or else..

Posted by Ayu
Learning Specialist, Petrosains

'Sultans of Science' Menjejaki Penemuan Semula Sains Islam

Secara keseluruhannya, pameran 'Sultans of Science' yang mencirikan penemuan semula sains Islam  merangkumi  tokoh-tokoh saintis islam, penemuan -penemuan terawal terhadap pelbagai konsep sains di samping bahan-bahan pameran yang terpilih sebagai perisian ruang pameran ini. Pameran ini telah berada di Petrosains selama 6 bulan dari Disember 2012 sehingga Jun 2013.
Pemandangan di sepanjang laluan pintu masuk ke ruang pameran adalah lain dari yang lain. Sekali pandang pasti kita akan teruja untuk berkunjung ke sini. Sepanjang laluan untuk memasuki ruang pameran, terdapat lukisan wajah-wajah sarjana muslim dan turut disertakan maklumat mengenai sumbangan penemuan  mereka terhadap dunia. Di ruang yang cukup indah ini juga, ia berlatar belakangkan alunan muzik arab khas untuk para pelawat agar dapat lebih merasai dan memperhalusi bahan-bahan pameran di samping dapat menimba banyak ilmu pengetahuan tentang penemuan semula sains islam.
Bahan pameran yang menjadi tarikan utama adalah jam gajah ataupun 'elephant clock'. Ini merupakan simbol kepada penemuan semula sains islam dalam menentukan masa. Jam gajah telah direka oleh Al-Jazari, seorang jurutera dan arkitek beragama Islam. Jam ini boleh menunjukkan waktu dan memberi isyarat pergerakan untuk setiap 30 minit. Keunikan rekabentuk jam gajah terserlah oleh gabungan pelbagai jenis haiwan yang menjadi simbol beberapa buah negara.
Bukan setakat itu sahaja malah terdapat di salah satu sudut aktiviti, kita juga berpeluang mempelajarai bagaimana menghasilkan minyak wangi dari rempah ratus seperti bunga cengkih, kayu mais, bunga lawang, jintan manis dan buah pelaga. Staf-staf Petrosains sentiasa bersedia di sudut aktiviti untuk menerangkan lebih lanjut tentang sains di sebalik minyak wangi. 

Terdapat pentas kecil yang tersedia untuk sesi pertunjukan sains khusus untuk para pengunjung yang hadir. Kesimpulannya, 'Sultans of Science' telah  menjanjikan  suatu kepuasan dalam mendalami sejarah penemuan  semula sains islam  dan ilmu yang diperolehi adalah tidak sia-sia malah ia boleh dimanfaatkan pada masa-masa akan datang.

Posted by Ayu
Learning Specialist, Petrosains

Petrosains Science Show Competition Final 2013

Petrosains successfully held the grand finals of Petrosains National Science Show Competition for the fifth consecutive year on  23rd and 24th October 2013.  Kompleks Kraf, Jalan Conlay was once again became the official venue for the final competition for both the school category and the open category.

After the initial kick-off in early February this year, we received  a total of  317 entries  from secondary schools all over Malaysia including from boarding schools such as Maktab Rendah Sains Mara. After a stringent selection process by our panel of judges,  60 teams were shortlisted and competed against each other in the six zone level competition held in Johor Bharu, Kuala Lumpur, Kuantan, Kuching, Kota Kinabalu and Sg. Petani. . The winner from each zone then proceeded to the grand finals together with two wildcard teams chosen by the panel of judges to compete in the grand finals.on 2013.
Some science hunting with the participants from Sarawak
As for the open category,  36 entries were received from teams representing public and private higher learning institutions in Malaysia as well as open teams.  . After vetting thoroughly , the panel of judges  selected  19 teams to compete in  the semi final round and with that, the top nine teams emerged to compete in the grand finals.

This competition is an initiative taken by Petrosains, to promote effective and informal learning methods, and popularize the subjects of science amongst secondary school students, This competition also takes things one step further by putting s students on stage and  giving them the opportunity to explain science to others. This indirectly refines and deepens their own understanding of the science concept and  helps in building their confidence and communication skills that will be a huge asset for them in the future. Other than just performing for the final, the finalists of this year’s school category were also given the opportunity to have a direct up-close  session with Dr. Graham Walker, a PhD holder in science show from Australia National University. During the session, Dr. Graham shared valuable information and tips in science show performing.

School Category

Amazing Acid and Base show by MRSM Pendang
Having some fun with science
Special science show performance from the deaf and mute students of SMKV Indah Pura
And the champion of the Petrosains Science Show Competition 2013 School Category is SMK Panchor!!!  In true cinematic fashion, Zarul Mustaqeem Abdul Samad of SMK Panchor fell to the floor in elated disbelief when the final result was announced.  Their win was attributed to natural onstage chemistry between the two participants,  skillful audience engagement and fascinating science show performance that captured the judges attention and scored them high marks.
The happy faces of the winners
As for the Open Category, it was an extremely tight battle  between all 9 teams. Each of them came out with awe-inspiring shows that included the science of sounds, dry ice and even bubbles. In the end, Institut Pendidikan Guru Ipoh created a – surprise when both their teams swept away the first and second Place for the finals, defeating other  teams from Universiti Sains Malaysia, Politeknik Balik Pulau and the enigmatic Yong Brothers’ Robotic Show. 

Open Category
Discovering interesting element about density with Politeknik Balik Pulau team
Fantastic  show about heat capacity and pressure by the Institut Perguruan Perlis
Travelling through time with amazing science discovery by the Institut Perguruan Ipoh 


School Category

Champion  SMK Panchor
Runner- up : SMK Seksyen 10, Kota Damansara
Third place : SMK Sultan Ismail, SMK Lembah Bidong

And the 6 Special Awards go to :-

Best Script : MRSM Pendang, Kedah
Best Future Star : SMK Tamparuli, Sabah
Best ‘Wow’ Demonstration : SMK Panchor, Negeri Sembilan
Best Performer : SMK Sultan Ismail, Johor
Most Popular Group : SMK Panchor, Negeri Sembilan
Highest Number of Entries  : Negeri Johor

Open Category

Champion : Institut Pendidikan Guru Ipoh (Team Loh)
Naib Johan : Institut Pendidikan Guru Ipoh (Team Tan)
Tempat Ketiga : Yong Brothers

The happy faces of the winners

Definitely can’t wait to see what 2014 has to offer for the competition! 

Terbaik Petrosains 2013!

Berteras dan bersandar pada visi 'Creating Wonder', Petrosains KLCC telah menyediakan pelbagai program-program pendidikan sains yang menarik merangkumi  pelbagai variasi pendekatan khusus untuk seluruh penduduk di Semenanjung Malaysia mahupun di Sabah dan Sarawak. Program-program yang disediakan bersesuaian untuk semua lapisan masyarakat dan peringkat usia. Tidak ketinggalan juga pusat satelit mini Petrosains yang beroperasi di negeri-negeri lain yang dikenali sebagai Playsmart Johor Bahru, Playsmart Kuantan dan Playsmart Kota Kinabalu. Ini termasuklah pameran Dinotrek 2 yang menceritakan tentang penemuan semula cicak gergasi ataupun dinosaur yang turut menyajikan pelbagai program yang sememangnya unik dan tersendiri. Himpunan bahan-bahan pendidikan sains terbaik juga turut menemui para pengunjung maya di laman sesawang kami dan di Petrosains Blog Kompilasi bahan-bahan tulisan ringkas berunsur sains juga terdapat di laman media sosial Facebook Petrosains - The Discovery Centre, Twitter @petrosains dan di Instagram @instapetrosains.

Saban tahun Petrosains terus berusaha menyediakan program-program menarik untuk tidak menghampakan para pengunjungnya. Begitupun, 2013 sekali lagi merupakan tahun kejayaan di mana  kemeriahan terbaik Petrosains dirasakan menerusi  Petrosains Science Festival yang dijalankan dari 22 Oktober sehingga 27 Oktober 2013. Sorotan yang paling menyerlah bagi tahun 2013 dan juga merupakan acara yang diadakan buat julung kalinya ini menghimpunkan saintis-saintis yang mempamerkan penemuan dan inovasi saintifik terkini, bengkel-bengkel sains, aktiviti-aktiviti sains interaktif, pendedahan informasi terkini mengenai kesan dan pendekatan penggunaan laman media sosial serta banyak lagi. Pembabitan dari pelbagai pihak dalam menjayakan program ini mencatat bilangan pengunjung yang amat memberangsangkan.

Selain itu, Pertandingan Pertunjukan Sains anjuran Petrosains untuk pelajar-pelajar sekolah menengah seluruh Malaysia dikatakan sebagai  sorotan kedua terbesar. Pertandingan ini secara langsung dapat memupuk minat para pelajar untuk mendalami ilmu sains dan dapat mengubah persepsi terhadap mata pelajaran ini dari sesuatu yang rumit kepada amat menyeronokkan.

Keunikan Petrosains terserlah apabila 'pelantar minyak' dipilih sebagai bahan pameran yang paling diminati. 'Simulator helikopter' dan 'Perjalanan Sekilas Masa'  juga dikatakan popular dikalangan pengunjung daripada maklumat maklumbalas yang diterima. 

Staf-staf Petrosains layak diberi pujian selari dengan pencapaian terbaik Petrosains tahun ini. Komunikasi sains secara efektif oleh para fasilitator dalam mengaplikasikan pendekatan penerokaan sendiri tentang fenomena dan konsep sains memberi ruang untuk pengunjung untuk mengalami sendiri supaya ia lebih mudah difahami berbanding belajar melalui pembacaan sahaja. Layanan mesra pegawai khidmat pelanggan ketika berinteraksi menunjukkan setulus usaha memahami dan menyampaikan maklumat terhadap para pengunjung turut meninggalkan impak hebat semasa lawatan yang menakjubkan di Petrosains.

Program-program lain seperti Program Bersama Saintis, program bersama guru, program -program yang diwujudkan khas untuk pelajar-pelajar sekolah dan banyak lagi secara tidak langsung memberikan kesedaran kepada murid-murid dan masyarakat tempatan untuk meminati sains dan menjadikan Petrosains sebagai satu tempat untuk mempelajari sains.

Sains dimana-mana! Itulah Petrosains yang telah membuka minda dan menjana semua termasuk golongan pendidik untuk melangkah kehadapan dalam pembelajaran dan pendidikan sains melalui pendekatan 'hands-on' mampu memberi manfaat terhadap generasi kini untuk masa akan datang!

Petrosains amat menghargai maklumbalas dari para pengunjung yang hadir mahupun melalui laman media sosial kami. Segala yang baik harus di teruskan manakala kami pasti akan menitikberatkan apa sahaja perkara yang perlu diperbaiki pada masa akan datang demi ke arah mencapai pusat sains bertaraf dunia.

Jadi, mengapa anda perlu kembali ke Petrosains pada tahun 2014? Sudah pasti kerana sorotan dan paparan program sains yang lebih menarik menanti anda!

Selamat Menyambut Tahun Baru 2014!

Posted by Ayu
Learning Specialist, Petrosains

Polymers From Marine Bacteria?


We see and use many types of polymers every day, it’s just that it’s known to us by different names.  The most common polymer is plastics and it comes in many forms – plastic bags, ATM and credit cards, our five ringgit notes and toys.  There’s also fabrics like rayon, nylon, and polyester.  These are synthetic polymers, i.e. they are man-made.
The other type of polymers, known as natural polymers, can be found in nature and within us.  They are also known as natural biopolymers, i.e. polymers produced by living organisms. DNA is a natural polymer found in all living things and it will be very difficult for us to survive without it.  There are also other natural polymers, e.g. cotton, silk, rubber, leather and cotton; that can be modified chemically to produce many of the consumer products we love and can’t do without!
So, what’s a polymer? 
It’s a compound formed from long chains of the same molecule group. These chains repeat over and over, just like paper clips of the same type and colour joined together.  Polymers can be made to be flexible, pliable and stretchy, yet strong and firm by linking the molecule chains in several places.  Depends on what we want.

Now that we know the difference between synthetic and natural polymers, how about marine biopolymers?  As the name goes, they are polymers produced by living organisms that live in the seas.  You may ask, how useful is it to us?  Aren’t all polymers similar?

Research has shown that marine biopolymers may serve as a potential base material for biodegradable plastics as well as applications in food additives, pharmaceutical and medical polymers, wound dressings, bio-adhesives, dental biomaterials, tissue regeneration and 3D tissue culture scaffolds. 

Universiti Malaysia Sabah’s Prof. Madya Dr. Charles S. Vairappan and his team has developed an innovative product called Profeed.  This is a probiotic fish feed which has been cleverly developed without costly sterilization by just using a concoction of probiotic microbes to do the job through fermentation. Another possible biopolymer that may be developed is by stressing certain bacteria to produce chemicals to make polymers.

Marine-derived biomaterials science is still relatively new and the marine environment is a relatively untapped resource for the discovery of new enzymes, biopolymers and biomaterials for industrial applications.
Special facilitation by Assoc. Prof.  Dr. Charles S. Vairappan -
Director, Institute for Tropical Biology and Conservation

This article is written in conjunction with Science Engagement Session at HotScience, Petrosains from 7-8 September 2013 with scientists from, Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) –
1. Assoc. Prof.  Dr. Charles S. Vairappan
Director, Institute for Tropical Biology and Conservation
Marine Natural Products Chemistry researcher, Institute for Tropical Biology and Conservation
2. Mr. Thulasiramanan Ramachandram, Institute for Tropical Biology and Conservation
3. Mr. Kishneth Palaniveloo, Institute for Tropical Biology and Conservation

The Bright Darkness

I was standing at the entrance of the Dialogue in the Dark exhibition (currently at Petrosains, Level 4 Suria KLCC) and was nervously handing in my ticket to the employee as I attempt to visualize the experience ahead. It was something I never thought I would experience, but there I was with another family as we wait for our scheduled session to begin. We had a small chat and then, Vicky, one of the employees at the exhibition, gave us a brief introduction and history about Dialogue in the Dark. The exhibition has a wonderful history and track record, being in numerous countries the world over and changing thousands of lives. As time drew closer to 3 p.m., we gathered in front of a dark entrance covered by a curtain. We could venture into the new world only after we were taught how to use the cane. I gained slight confidence and well, thought it was easy and so took it lightly. Thus, I gathered all of my courage to enter another person’s world where darkness is the norm. 
Note: This is not part of the exhibition
The adventure only just began when my hands started to tremble. It was pitch black and losing my sight temporarily for the first time was horrifying.  It was just a few moments after we began our journey but we kept on asking each other, “Where are you?” It was clear that we have yet to adapt to the new environment which made us lose our coordination. We tried to calm down, but it was obvious that most of us panicked for a bit. Although we had Vicky to guide us in the beginning, I began to cast some doubts if she knew our whereabouts. We only had walls and the cane to help and steer us along the way. Soon after that, Uncle Jo, who was our guide throughout the exhibition, greeted us in the dark and gave us a warm welcome. Somehow, I felt at ease when Uncle Jo welcomed us and became our guide as we embarked on an adventure which is one of its kind.  

It would be a lie if I were to say I mastered the usage of the cane right away. We kept on bumping into each other and did not know where exactly the objects were as we experienced life blind like Uncle Jo did. Unlike us, Uncle Jo knows exactly where we were. He guided us with much patience and care. Who would have known that one with perfect physical abilities would be guided by a person who has a disability? 

We began to familiarize ourselves in the new world and see the aesthetics of life in a whole new perspective. It felt like my senses of touch were enticed! I liked the texture of the objects with what I could recall and this whole experience made me excited as I felt like I was in a maze. We could listen to the sound of nature that we are familiar with but there was something that I could not depict in words to express the wonder of seeing the beauty of the surrounding by ears and not by the eyes. Jason, who is an energetic visitor and also the youngest among all of us, was excited as he adjusted to the environment and he even helped to guide me alongside Uncle Jo. 
However, what impressed me more was Uncle Jo’s open-mindedness as he encouraged Jason to ask more questions and instill great interest in Jason to explore the world of darkness. I must say that all of us were inspired and learned to communicate under Uncle Jo’s guidance. It really felt like we were just talking to a friendly neighbour. We were given the chance to ask him questions about his life up-close and personal. I felt for his challenges living life blind as our world, especially in Malaysia, is biased to the sighted. We don’t often recognize the needs of the blind, deaf, or wheelchair bound so everyday life like shopping or going to watch a movie is so much more difficult for the less-abled. I did a self-reflection in the dark room and noticed how ignorant I was to complain about the imperfections I have. I seem to be way more incompetent than Uncle Jo as his spirit to live a normal life is greater than mine. 

Before we knew it, our meaningful and adventurous journey in the Dialogue in the Dark exhibition came to an end. We finally got to see the face of Uncle Jo under the light. He had a benign smile and one could see his warmness shining through. He managed to touch our hearts and brought us to a whole new look at life as we learn how to appreciate ourselves and understand the blind better. It was not merely an experience where we learn about them, but we were also given the chance to look at ourselves and appreciate life as it is. How impressive it was that an hour long experience is able to give me and the visitors a lesson that we would not otherwise get. Through Dialogue in the Dark, it feels like the blind are sharing their world with us and it was a privilege indeed.

Shared by Nadrah
Guest Student Blogger