Friday 7 September 2018

Podcasting Into The Future

They are educational, entertaining, sometimes funny but rarely ever boring. What am I talking about? Podcasts! 

In 1979, there was a popular song by The Buggles called “Video Killed the Radio Star.” The catchy tune sang of the inevitable invasion of modern technology, specifically video, taking over the radio. But today, fast forward to four decades later, just like fashion, radio stars have resurfaced in a new digital form called “podcasters”. 

 A British Band, The Buggles with their hit “Video Killed the Radio Star” (1979)

Podcasts in itself are not new as they’ve broken into the scene as early as 2004. (Fun fact: Did you know that podcast derived its name from iPod when it was first introduced by the late Steve Jobs?). However, its popularity to a leap in 2015, riding on the waves of an increasingly connected and digital world. Listed as one of the top future digital trends, brands are quickly banking on this new found love to engage their consumers, particularly a new generation of digital natives. 

But how is podcasting related to education? Podcast presents a great opportunity for educators to leverage this platform as a creative and cost-efficient tool for teaching and learning. Basic podcasting doesn’t require a lot – connectivity, a recording device (most smartphones can do that these days) and some practice. And all these while honing the podcaster’s creativity, storytelling and communication skills. 

In this new digital era, learning has never been more empowered by technology and education will continue to evolve beyond the confines of a classroom and a teacher. Just do a search for “science podcasts” and you’ll get a long list of recommended listens, with shows such as Star Talk Radio by Neil deGrasse Tyson and Science Weekly by The Guardian topping the list. One of my favourites is Science VS, that takes on fads, trends, and the opinionated mob to find out what’s the fact, what’s not, and what’s somewhere in between.

One of the most popular science podcasts around, Star Talk by Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Recognising its potential to communicate and spur dynamic discussions around STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) related topics, Petrosains piloted a podcast series in June this year. The talk series, entitled “Generation: Future Ready” or in short #GENFR, explores the challenges and opportunities in a fast-changing future, and how the generation today can prepare themselves better with the right knowledge and skills to be future-ready. 

Petrosains’ pilot podcast series, Generation: Future Ready or #GENFR

Centered on the themes of Entrepreneurship & Social Innovation, The Fourth Industrial Revolution (IR 4.0) and Emerging Jobs of Tomorrow, this 12-episode series housed an exciting line-up of industry leaders and experts from diverse backgrounds such as Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre (MaGIC), Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), Cyberview, Digi, FutureLab, Greenyards, Hap Seng Consolidated Berhad, Open Learning, Petronas ICT, The R.AGE and more! 

Episode 7 on “Smart Technologies and Us”, featuring Richard Ker (Cyberview) and Johnson Lam (KakiDIY) even had a digital personal assistant, ‘Alexa’ made a special appearance. 

It is easy listening over casual conversations on relatable content for youth and young adults. Covering topics such as Impact Driven Entreprises, Learning In The New Frontier,  The Music & Engineering and The Future of Work: A.I. vs Humans (just to have a few), our guests brought a wealth of professional experiences and insights as well as a peek into their personal journey during a fun segment - the “Have You Never Ever Challenge”.  

It’s a wrap! Behind the scenes of the final recording, featuring our guests, Lisa Chan (Petronas ICT) and Tay Yen Pei (Simplify Networks), with the Petrosains-KDU Campus Radio team behind #GENFR. 

So, if you’re enticed about what the hyper disruptive future holds while seeking a rewarding and meaningful career, #GENFR podcast series is now available on our website and multiple podcasting platforms such as Spotify, Google Casts and Anchor through the KDU Campus Radio channel. Generation: Future Ready was produced in collaboration with KDU School of Communication and Creative Arts. 

One might wonder if podcasting could just be another passing fad? I’d say think again - tech giants like Google have ambitious visions for the future of podcasts. And bringing it closer to home in the words of one of our guests, Pn Sri Maimon Arif Patail who helms the Corporate Social Responsibility for Hap Seng Consolidated Berhad, “Such podcasts content have great potentials for career aspirations, think of the exposures this could have especially for our rural school students. And, what a great resource for all teachers!” 

We hope you enjoy learning through the series as much as we’ve enjoyed producing them. Tune in, anytime, anywhere! 

Shared by Joanne Tay
Guest Blogger

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

Emperor Qin’s Terracotta Army

Most of us have heard of the Terracotta Army and why it was created – to protect and accompany Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China, in the afterlife. The Qin ruler's tomb was constructed between 246 and 209 BC, and an estimated 8,000 life-sized sculptures were placed in rows positioned according to rank. They are just like silent sentinels guarding their long deceased Ruler. Chariots and horses were also found with the soldiers. The outstanding feature of the Army is each soldier has a unique facial expression.

Who built the Terracotta Army? What materials did they use?

First things first…what is terracotta?

Terracotta is made from clay and refers to natural clay fired at a low temperature. Iron compounds in clay give terra cotta its "rusty mud" hue. When the clay is fired, the minerals are partially melted, resulting in a hardened but still porous material.

The well-equipped Terracotta Army was discovered on 29 March 1974 by farmers digging a well approximately 1.5 kilometres east of Emperor Qin's tomb mound at Mount Li (Lishan). Excavations conducted by archaeologists later found patches of colour on some statues, hinting at once brightly coloured ‘clothes’ on the otherwise grey statues.

Who built the Terracotta Army?

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Qin Shi Huang ordered the construction of his mausoleum when he took the throne of the Qin State in 246 BC. However, most of the decisions were made by his officials as he was only 13.

Quick Facts about the Terracotta Army's Construction
Sponsor: Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of the Qin Dynasty

Designer: Li Si, the prime minister of the Qin Dynasty

Supervisor: Zhang Han, Senior General of the Qin army

Numbers of workers: More than 700,000

The project was still underway 36 years after it began, shortened by Qin Shi Huang's sudden death.

The amount is unknown. 

The making of the Terracotta Army [An illustration]

1. Unearth the Hidden Origin of China's Terra-Cotta Warriors | National Geographic.
2. Terracotta Army: The greatest archaeological find of the 20th century - BBC News.
3. The incredible history of China's terracotta warriors [Ted-Ed].

Shared by Azni Zainal Abidin
Guest Blogger

Tuesday 4 September 2018

The Science Behind Football: Roberto Carlos’ Immortal Kick

Hi Internet pals, today we are going to cover the world’s most popular sport – football (or soccer). Physics can explain some of the aw-inspiring plays performed by top players - bicycle kicks, diving headers and fingertip saves all exemplify the conservation Newton’s laws. Perhaps, one of the most interesting physics phenomena in football, explains the curve behind a long distance free kicks.

On June 3, 1997, 21 years ago, in a game between France and Brazil, a young Brazilian player named Roberto Carlos set up for a 35 meter free kick. With no direct line to the goal, Carlos decided to attempt the seemingly impossible. His kick sent the ball flying wide of the players, but just before going out of bounds, it hooked to the left and soared into the net. This is Roberto Carlos’ most famous goal of his career and arguably in the history of football.

According to Newton’s 1st law of motion, an object will move in the same direction and velocity until a force is applied to it, regardless of the strength of the force. When Carlos kicked the ball, he gave it direction and velocity, but what force made the ball swerve and score one of the most magnificent goals in the history of the sport?

The trick was in the spin…

Carlos placed his kick at the lower right corner of the ball, sending the ball high and to the right, but also rotating around its axis. The ball started its flight in a direct route, with air flowing on both sides and slowing it down.

On one side, the air moved in the opposite direction to the ball’s spin – causing increased pressure, while on the other side, the air moved in the same direction as the spin, creating an area of lower pressure. The difference between the pressures made the ball curve towards the lower pressure zone.

This phenomenon is called the Magnus effect. This type of kick, also commonly known as a banana kick. The Magnus effect was first documented by Sir Isaac Newton after he noticed it while playing a game of Tennis back in 1970.

The sweeter you hit it, the more swerve you get, and Roberto Carlos caught it just right. The way it worked out, it was perfection. The free kick left Fabien Barthezc – France goalkeeper in hopeless despair and befuddlement as the ball fizzes back from yards outside of his left-hand post. It is the free kick that makes the beautiful game, beautiful.

“There are lots of good kickers nowadays, it might take some time but someday someone will score a similar goal. But I was the first.” – Roberto Carlos

Check out more fun and interactive story of science and technology at Petrosains the Discovery Centre!

International Science Drama Competition (ISDC) 2018 - Malaysian Finals and International Grand Finals

Although it has been more than a month, we are still buzzing with excitement thinking about the Malaysian Finals and International Grand Finals that happened on the 30th of June and 14th of July, respectively. For the Malaysian Finals, which were held at the KDU University College Glenmarie campus, we saw six teams from primary schools, coming from four states, namely Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Johor and Negeri Sembilan. The six teams were vying for two spots to go to the International Grand Finals, which is, of course, an enormous matter for the participants. It was indeed a full house on the competition day, with the total of 360 pax of participants, supporters, and audience. The judges had a tough task, which was to decide on the best two teams that would represent Malaysia in the International Grand Finals. The teams were assessed on the scientific content of their play, performance of the cast, their creativity, as well as their overall performance. Here are some of the moments captured during the event:

After much deliberation, the judges had agreed to select Team Infinity F.I.T.T from SJKT Masai, Johor as the 1st place winner, and Team Bone Bonkers from SK Sri Petaling as the 2nd place winner, representing Malaysia in the Primary School category for the International Grand Finals. During the Malaysian Finals, we had also invited the winners for the Open category, to honor them during the prize-giving ceremony. And two weeks later……

It was the International Grand Finals! Held at the same venue as the Malaysian Finals, we were nervous to host participants and judges coming from Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Philippines, and China. Everyone was in such a competitive mood, but at the same time was so happy to be in Malaysia! It was a day full of drama, dazzling costumes, and impressive performances, with again, full house of 360 pax of the most cheerful, energetic crowd. Why not we let the pictures do the talking…

Scenes from the Primary School Category:

Meanwhile, for the Open Category:

The participants had to work hard, as their performance was assessed by six judges, one from each science centre, namely Science Centre Singapore, Oil & Gas Discovery Centre Brunei, National Science Museum Thailand, The Mind Museum Philippines, Science Beijing Network China, and Petrosains. The prizes at stake for both categories: USD 450 for 1st place, USD 300 for the 2nd place, and USD 150 for 3rd place. Out of six teams competing in the Primary School category, we are proud to announce that MALAYSIA WAS CROWNED CHAMPION! Team Infinity F.I.T.T. from SJKT Masai, Johor managed to snatch the first place! Team Sport On!, from Singapore came in second, and Team Varee Young Scientist Club from Thailand won the third place. Our Open Category representative did not disappoint either. Team The Warriors (Malaysia) took the third place, second place was won by Team Science Fillet from Brunei, and the first place was awarded to Team Theatre Club Nanyang from Singapore.

We sure are glad that everything went well, and we hope that this event will be a memorable one for each and every person involved.

Thank you for reading!

Shared by Nurhayati Zulkifli
Guest Blogger