In conjunction with Sarawak Career and Training (SCaT) Fair on March 3 to 5 at the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK) this year, a new section was added to cultivate interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) called the STEM Playground.
Located at the parking area, the STEM Playground had 12 amazing interactive exhibits by MdeC, PETROSAINS, Shell Malaysia, Makerspace @ Pustaka Negeri Sarawak, DreamCatcher, All Aboard Young Leaders Centre, Curtin University Malaysia, Swinburne University Sarawak, University of Technology Sarawak (UCTS), UNIMAS, UiTM Sarawak, and Politeknik Kuching.
The variety of activities not only attracted students but also adults alike.
One of the exhibits that caught the attention of those who came was the 3D Printing by Shell Malaysia and also Makerspace @ Pustaka Negeri Sarawak. When it comes to printing, often times we would think of printing something on a flat surface. 3D printing (or additive manufacturing) is a process of making three dimensional solid objects from a digital file. The creation of a 3D printed object is achieved using additive processes. In an additive process an object is created by laying down successive layers of material until the object is created. Each of these layers can be seen as a thinly sliced horizontal cross-section of the eventual object. Visitors to the exhibit watched in fascination as the printers were creating an object, layer by layer, while also looking at the finished products that were on display.
Another interesting exhibit at the STEM Playground was the hologram demonstration by DreamCatcher.
Like a photograph, a hologram captures an image onto a flat surface. The difference is that a hologram captures light before it is focused, which means it captures information about light from many points of views. When you look at a hologram, you see how light arrived at that point of view. As you move your head around, you see the captured light from a different point of view and that makes the hologram appear 3 dimensional (3D).
DreamCatcher used a simple hand-held device with a transparent pyramid-shaped object on top of it to create the hologram. They also taught students how to create the the structure which allows the video on a smartphone – which can be easily downloaded from the Internet – to be turned into a hologram.
Speaking of light, a curious looking box was set up by UCTS called the Enviro-Box which was used to demonstrate and also explain about how can one measure the brightness of light. The box was also used to explain about sound. Using special measuring devices that can measure how loud the sound and how bright the light was in the exhibition hall as well as in the box.
Light is measured by its intensity. Light intensity is measured by the number of lumens falling on a surface, which is expressed as lux. Light falls on a sensor where the energy of photons is converted to electrical charge. The more light that strikes the surface, the more charge is built up. The measurement electronics device converts voltage to a lux value. For sound, a sound level metre is used for sound measurements and the unit used to measure the intensity of a sound is decibel. There was also a chart which listed down the ideal numbers for lighting for certain parts of a house and also how loud is loud in terms of decibels.
Imagine being able to use your mind to control devices. It sounds like something out of a science fiction movie but in reality, there is a technology that is developing to explore the possibility of that. Using electroencephalogram (EEG) which is a test used to evaluate the electrical activity in the brain, a headset was developed by NeuroSky which were available for trial at Politeknik Kuching’s exhibit.
There were two simple games that visitors could play while using the headset but it was not as simple at it sounds. One of the games required the person who wears the headset to make the barrel on the screen to burn and explode. In order to make that happen, the wearer had to use their anger. The other game was the total opposite of the exploding barrel. Instead of anger or stress, the wearer had to calm their mind in order to float the ball as high as possible.
Looking at all the exhibits and activities available at the STEM Playground, it was clear that cultivating the younger generation’s interest for STEM would mean that it could help in the advancement of technology that could greatly help humankind in the future.