Friday 7 September 2018

Science Communicators at Shanghai Science Festival 2018

“The best thing happens unexpectedly” 

The News 
“Fizz & Bee, you are going to Shanghai next month” announced our director, KK, during our routine morning roll call. OMG, I was as surprised as Bee to hear the news. The mixed feelings of excitement, worries, uncertainties, and hope overwhelmed us. What event is this? What programme will we conduct? How about current programmes that we are coordinating? Who else is going? Wait! Fasting month will start next month, right? Will we be fasting there? And questions in my mind escalated…

“Relax, take a deep breath and smell the flowers” 

The Preparation 
Within 7 days of the festival, there would be 62 hours of workshops to be conducted and more than 8 shows to be performed. As for who would be going, there will be 4 of us - Azura, Aliff, Bee, & I. Hasnan, the project leader, will not be going. Nevertheless, he will liaise with the Beijing Academy of Science & Technology (BJAS) for the ground arrangement.

Since this would be the first time Petrosains will be conducting a workshop style programme at Shanghai Science Festival, not much information was available to us. After some research, discussions, and approval from the boss, it was decided that Petrosains team will conduct 6 types of workshops. I, on the other hand, will perform science shows. 

Next thing we knew, we only had one week to prepare for the materials, visa, foodstuffs for fasting month and what is necessary for the programmes we are leaving behind. We decided that Bee will prepare all the workshop materials and me, all materials for the science show. Meanwhile, being from Strategic Marketing and Communication department, Azura and Aliff will prepare all necessities from the marketing side. Yes, we should have bought most of the materials in China but time is too limited for us once we reach there. So, the materials hunting and packing begun…. 
 “One's destination is never a place, but always a new way of seeing things.” Henry Miller

The flight
After taking sahoor (pre-dawn meal of fasting) of first Ramadhan, we headed to KLIA to catch the Malaysian Airlines flight MH388 from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Pudong, China. The flight took 5 hours 35minutes and we landed safely at 3.25pm, local time. 
(Note: There is no time difference between KL and Shanghai)

After going through the airport procedures, guess what? Our host, the BJAS team, was already waiting for us holding a card with our names!  Thank you, guys.     

“Be patient. Everything is coming together” 

The Event

Established in 1991 by the Government of China, Shanghai Science Festival is a yearly event celebrated bi-annually. This year it was conducted in Shanghai Science and Technology Museum from Saturday, 19 May 2018 until Saturday, 26 May 2018. 

143 local higher education institutions and key scientific research laboratories were expected to join the festival that involved science knowledge promotion; scientific seminars; exhibitions with scientific themes; stage performances with scientific elements; and additional activities at local research centers and scientific labs.

There were a few sections for booths and activities in the Museum. Our booth was located at Science Night section between the local and overseas delegates.
Here are the maker activities that we successfully conducted:

I am glad that our activities received good responses from the participants despite the language barrier we faced. Like Bee said, “It simply felt like cats communicating with rabbits.”  And I could not agree more. 

Even though it was a bit too hectic at times, I enjoyed the activities we conducted, the people and everything else. Let the photos below do the talking:

 We are ready for the workshops!

 Ongoing facilitation by Bee (right photo) & me (left photo)

 A media coverage in between facilitations

 On the last day, we had people queueing to join our activities. 

 Happy faces

 Trying out activities

 Family bonding moment

 Focused on the hands-on activities

Maker “shell-out” is an activity where participants make a product from the random items on the table

So, what happened to the science shows? Seems like there was some change of plan by the organizer. In the end, I conducted 2 shows; Cool Chemistry Show during the festival and Liquid Nitrogen Show at the Closing ceremony in the Museum. It was my first time doing science shows with a translator. A bit awkward at first but practice definitely makes them better.

The audience was great. During the closing ceremony, there was a live feed on the internet. So, does that mean that 1.4billion people watched my Liquid Nitrogen show? Nah... maybe just 1 billion. Hehee... 

“Our soul need fasting, as much as our bodies need food”

The Fasting

In Malaysia, it’s always around 13 hours of no eating and drinking during the month of Ramadhan. In Shanghai, we experienced an additional 2 1/2hours of fasting. This means sahoor must end before 3.15 am.  So, we woke up at 2.00 am to cook. Yes, you read that right. We cooked! Either fresh meals or heating leftovers from yesterday’s breaking of fast.
When do we breakfast? It was around 6.45 pm. Alhamdulillah, it was not difficult to find halal food in Shanghai, thanks to our kind host and also the internet. We even had a chance to break our fast at a Mosque and observe the breaking of the fast culture of the Chinese Muslims. 

“God created human with different colours so that we get to know each other”

The Friendship

We met new people and build new friendships. I wished that we had more time to get to know each other, but we were always working.

We met participants from China, Singapore, USA, Pakistan, Germany, Sweden, and the Czech Republic. All were friendly and helpful in one way or another.

Neither can she understand English nor I Chinese, but we communicated through the universal language of curiosity and love of science. This beautiful woman came back to our booth the next day and gave us crochet materials that she made. Aww…. this is very sweet. 

“All good things must come to an end” Chaucer

The Wrap up /Conclusion / The end

All in all, it was a very valuable experience for all of us. We are glad that science brought us beyond the boundaries of language and culture. We hope that the everlasting experience not only will stay in our hearts but also in the hearts of those we have encountered.

Thank you and till we meet again.   

Shared by Fizz & Bee
Guest Blogger


  1. Good Job guys! Keep it up :)

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