The students peer into a hole, and keep moving to peek into the next hole _ then another one and another. The gaps on the black wall draw the attention of the young visitors with the promise of fascination and mystery. Through the holes, students can decipher ancient jaws, or a piece of something prehistoric.
Others cannot figure out the obscure shapes, yet the wonder of science still proves to have a great pull. On the wall itself, the children look at an array of astonishing numbers _ one litre is the quantity of water in the human brain, 20km up into the biosphere is where scientists found live bacteria, 650kg is the weight of a blue whale's heart, the largest in the world.
At the National Science and Technology Fair 2012, visitors, mostly young, marvel at exhibitions that deal with the secrets of the mundane and the excitement of the unknown. The biggest science fair in the country, which is on until Aug 31 at Bitec Bangna, is a long-running event that continues to raise hopes that Thai kids will perceive science with more enthusiasm and curiosity, spurred by the fact that technology, an offshoot of textbook science, is an inseparable part of life.
The fair consists of booths and panels from educational and private exhibitors, plus an area of international pavilions where countries such as Japan, Germany, the UK and the UAE showcase their contributions to science.
Students having fun at the Earth & Universe zone.
The main themes range from pure science topics such as mathematics, Earth and the universe, to those that correspond to current situations, such as water and disaster management.
Science Illustrated Thailand magazine coincidentally celebrated its first anniversary with a World of Numbers exhibit, showing statistics collected from its By The Numbers column, which covers four main domains _ nature, technology, culture and medicine.
Sutham Thamrongvit, managing editor of Science Illustrated Thailand, said the holes outside the booths trigger the visitors' curiosity to learn more about what's inside.
"Science is all about life and things surrounding us. We can apply the knowledge to anything _ technology, medicine, equipment _ to make our quality of life better," says Sutham.
After students have digested the information provided inside the wall, they receive a ''Science Ticket'', which asks questions about nature, technology, culture and medicine.
The questions include: What is the quantity of water that turns to ice on the Himalayas? How long would it take to clean all the mirrors of the Burj Khalifa tower in Dubai? The length of cardiovascular system is about four times Earth's circumference, which is equal to how many kilometres?
Like most booths at the fair, the black, square exhibit of Science Illustrated Thailand has never been devoid of visitors.
Young visitors explore the location of their homes on a map provided by the Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency.
Jittanun Korsanprasert, Matayom 1 student from Ratchaburi province, said she was surprised at the figures about the human heart. She learned that the diameter of the aorta is 25mm, and that there are one billion people who have hypertension and require treatment for the condition. Information in this booth is what Jittanun and her two friends have decided to write reports on for their science class assignment.
The international pavilions offer a variety of perspectives and approaches from countries such as China, Japan, Germany, Britain, Australia and Norway. Take, for example, Japan's and Germany's exhibitions, respectively about disasters and renewable energy. They reflect how scientific subjects can be relevant to both circumstantial situations and national policy. True to Germany's role as an innovator, the country's pavilion concentrates on renewable energy, showing how it can be used in everyday life.
Children gain hands-on experience with renewable energy through a simulated farm which uses solar energy, wind turbines and biogas. Young visitors obtain their own Renewable Energy Expert Passport in which they find lots of information on, for example, how solar technology helps to water flower beds, which different energy sources exist and which of them are renewable, or how insulation can help save energy.
Japan's National Institute of Information and Communication Technology displays the technologies it contributed to disaster relief support after last year's earthquake and tsunami. The exhibition can be viewed as a continuation from the Disaster Pavilion, and is a place where children can learn and understand the changes in our planet and the disasters that befall mankind. The interactive show allows visitors to view a world atlas and calamities that have occurred on various continents. Visitors can monitor the risks of typhoons, earthquakes and floods in real time through satellite images.
Another disaster-related highlight is a 4D bus simulator where visitors can have a virtual adventure.
An ancient astronomical ‘computer’ was used to predict sunrise, sunset and the position of the Sun and stars in the sky.
On the journey, passengers face different types of disasters and can learn about the warning signs for each. The global issues of disasters and eco-friendly living are also explored from a local perspective. Shown alongside each other are the Water zone and the Green Society area. The Water zone shows nine rivers that have been closely related to the Thai way of life, as well as the water situation in Thailand and problems such as floods, drought and wasted water. Innovations that have been created to cope with flooding, such as the eco-boat made from recycled packaging, emergency electricity chargers and mobile toilets, are exhibited.
Green Society is where young visitors can learn more about the environment to change their behaviour to make Thailand an eco-friendly country. There are samples of green cities including Osaka in Japan and Singapore, along with San Francisco's Treasure Island and Sweden's SymbioCity concept.
From scientific subjects closely related to our lives and the future of mankind, the themes move to celestial studies and includes areas where visitors can learn about outer space and the universe in fun, interactive ways.
The Earth & Universe section helps young visitors find out the possibilities behind the origin of our planet. A simulation of our solar system lets them enjoy the movement of the planets and gravitational forces, learn the difference between walking on the Moon and on Earth, and find out their weight on the Moon and planets. Free Fall _ another activity that allows visitors to experience weightlessness _ is a special playground that should not be missed.
Aside from simulation experiences and exhibitions, those who seek extraterrestrial knowledge can relax on a couch and immerse themselves in the planetarium, which has been simulated for audiences at the fair by the National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand which operates the Thai National Observatory. Here, visitors can learn more about asteroids.
Besides exhibitions that display interesting scientific information, what can truly engage audiences, no matter what age they are, are interactive elements.
One of the most fundamental scientific and academic subjects _ mathematics _ is turned into a fun showcase that not only attracts visitors, but also engages their curiosity and fosters their interest in the subject.
At the entrance of Maths Land, visitors are drawn in by symbols showing that maths is the basis of everything. Here, people can participate in topics such as ''How would the world be without mathematics?'' or ''Fun With Maths'', from which visitors can learn basic principles of the subject with hands-on activities.
From kindergarten age to high school level, children will find learning is fun at the zone operated by the Institute for the Promotion of Teaching Science and Technology.
The Learn Space, for example, offers a hands-on station challenging children with a variety of problem-solving games.
A wide range of activities can also be enjoyed at the Science Lab, Kids Zone and Paper Plane Arena, where people can take pleasure in Lego, the Science Castle, and there is a paper aeroplane competition.
A mobile library by TK Park will also be stationed at the fair, where people can enjoy using gaming apps and making paper tablets.
- SULTANS OF SCIENCE, a global travelling exhibition from MTE Studios, United Arab Emirates, brings history back to life at the fair. The exhibition celebrates the contribution of Muslim scholars to science and technology during the Islamic golden age from 700-1700AD, showing the inventions and contributions toward modern society. The display surprises visitors with how those during that period could influence the main fields of Islamic scientific endeavours including architecture, arts, astronomy, engineering, exploration, flight, mathematics, medicine, optics, and water control on a journey back through time.
- The National Science Museum will today show The Hundred Year Hunt For The Red Sprite, a film by Canadian science artist Peter McLeish, at the Meeting Room, 2nd floor. The 42-minute movie documents one of the most unexpected scientific findings in the atmosphere during the late 20th century and discusses aspects of astronomy, space science and meteorology.
All about numbers at Science Illustrated Thailand .
Dinosaur and biodiversity.
The 4D bus simulator takes visitors on a virtual adventure with natural disasters.