YOU can’t always fool this generation’s 10-year-olds into believing that babies come from monggo beans and get away with it. In fact, they can already make mincemeat of you, when they want to, should you spin them tall tales about babies being harvested on experimental tin pots on Day 49.
That’s what happens when there is just too much information available to kids, who are now wired to the Internet for hours and grow up with an overdose of National Geographic or Discovery Channel. Of course, that is a good thing, especially when they go out of the way to grill their science teachers for inadequacy on this subject—and for including SM Mall of Asia, instead of museums or art galleries, in the “educational” field-trip itineraries.
Then again, a visit to SM’s famous mall by the bay for an educational tour can be most educational these days—what with SM Lifestyle Entertainment (SMLEI) having opened Exploreum, a venue of interactive learning for young science freaks.
Because kids are smarter now and, thus, are disinclined to take boring teachers and rote learning sitting down, Exploreum instills learning through “edutainment” what used to be mere blackboard concepts, such as how volcanoes erupt, the parts of the human body and how they work, and why fart is a carbon dioxide. So children don’t have to be forced to pore over their science textbooks and memorize verbatim definitions only because “there’s a long quiz tomorrow.”
And, even though school days are over for the 2014-2015 school year, learning never stops at Exploreum as this junior-scientists lair unveils a bevy of science activities this summer.
From May 8 to 10, children will be exposed to practical science experiments and learn concepts through play in the Exploreum Summer Camp.
SMLEI will also be hosting a science quiz bee, a nationwide interschool competition from July 2015 to February 2016. Students can also participate in the competition by setting up science exhibits in their schools. SMLEI will be giving cash prizes weekly, monthly and quarterly in each of the qualifying competitions all the way up to the grand tournament, where the grand-winning school will take home a whopping P1 million.
There are a hundred and one ways to learn science at this junior laboratory. There are 118 regular child-friendly exhibits and over 100 morsels of information kids can derive from the Exploreum’s eight major interactive galleries—the Natural World, Human Adventure, Zoom, Connect, Cyberville, Space Camp, the Living Earth and the Science Park—not to mention the in-your-face Science on a Sphere (SOS).
Developed by the US government’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the only one of its kind in the Philippines, SOS is a far cry from the regular drab globe in your school library. Beyond showing actual dynamic images of vast expanse of oceans and continents—in real time—SOS is a room-size digital exhibit that also projects (among so many other scientific things) climate change, ocean temperature and even air traffic.
In my visit, the SOS looked like a huge levitating crystalline ball in high gravity used by modern fortune tellers to conjure images of ominous clouds on which they base their forecasts, and “Gee! Is that the Great Wall of China over there?”
The Exploreum also houses the country’s only full-size 158-seater dome theater, called, well, The Dome Theater, replete with a 180-degree digital screen and an advanced audio-visual system running on the Digi-star 5 operating system, which is the world’s best-selling program for full-dome theaters.
I had taken in the spectacle that is the vast universe before at the former Planetarium as some fifth grader, and it was like an advanced—yet really understandable—cosmic TED talk for kids. It brought closer the faceless void drizzled only by specks of light, gas and dust we only could wish upon in a song and hope would someday fall into our hands.
Eleven years later, and now with a more photo-realistic experience through its clear-cut projection and remarkable surround sound, the state-of-the-art Dome Theater took us to where we all began and made us remember: “I must be named after or have an affinity with a heavenly body.” No wonder that, when all the lights are out, we revel at the beauty of the stars.
The Exploreum can be found not just at the SM Mall of Asia but also at SM Lanang Premier in Davao.
For more information: www.exploreum.ph.