Fun in store for young ones at Science Centre

SINGAPORE - Children will get to release model airplanes into wind tunnels and watch them fly.

They can also pretend to be palaeontologists in a dinosaur pit or ride a tricycle with square wheels.

They can do all these and more at a new $10 million wing for children that will open at the Singapore Science Centre in June.

Called KidsSTOP, it will cater to children aged 18 months to eight years, a growing number of whom have been going through the science centre’s doors.

“The current science centre caters to those above eight. Some exhibits might be too complex for pre-schoolers,” science centre chief executive Lim Tit Meng told The Straits Times.

The 3,000 sq m KidsSTOP will be built around the themes of Imagine, Experience, Discover and Dream.

It will use everyday activities to make science relatable. Children can role-play as cashiers, for instance, while learning about nutrition in a supermarket.

“When they pick up a papaya, there could be a display showing them what a papaya tree looks like, how it grows, its nutritional value and so forth,” said Associate Professor Lim.

Another section, the Built Environment Zone, will show children how bridges are built safely and how buildings are designed to conserve energy.

There will also be sections to teach children about the human body and animals.

Children can also look forward to the Giant J, a 7m-tall slide where they can experience a moment of free fall and learn about gravity.

Said Prof Lim: “We want kids to go away remembering the science centre as a fun part of their childhood, not some old, serious place.”

Exhibits will be written in simple language for young children while staff will also be on hand to assist the young learners.

Besides pre-schoolers, Kids- STOP will also cater to a group often overlooked – children with special needs. Programmes will likely avoid “loud booms and bangs”, said Prof Lim, adding that details are still being confirmed.

Pre-school specialists welcome KidsSTOP’s fun approach to science.

“But the exhibits must also focus on nurturing creativity, instead of giving a one-size- fits-all right answer,” said Ms Rani Sidhu, director of pedagogy at EtonHouse.

“It’s not about getting it right, but cultivating an inquisitive mind at this age.”

Parents, too, look forward to the new attraction.

Said Ms Sandy Low, 35, a teacher who has a four-year-old daughter: “The new KidsSTOP sounds like a fun family Sunday out. My kid learns new things while I get to revise my science.”

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