Today's guest writer is Mind Mover intern Angelica Y. Yang, a student of BSE Biology from the University of the Philippines - Diliman.
When The Mind Museum opened its doors to the public last 2012, I couldn't help but join my fellow science enthusiasts in exploring this beautiful work of art. At that time, I was only in second year high school, having taken up a little bit of high school Biology - which was mostly rote memorization from Campbell Biology. Even though I was very young, all the discoveries, inventions, and scientific explanations in the museum spoke to me.
The accuracy of the information as well as the artistic way they were presented made me believe that the arts can never be truly divorced from the sciences.
A special project of the Bonifacio Art Foundation, it is no surprise that The Mind Museum has raised the bar for science museums all across the country - making it a hot spot for families, friends, and curious kids.
On my first trip around the Museum, I reveled at the cool inventions of scientists as well as the awesome sky dome that allowed us to get a 360 degree view of a realistic astronomy presentation. My favorite part of the entire Museum was the Astronomy section, where thousands of glittering stars decorated a black canvas overhead. I spent the most time there up until a brief announcement by the VSS saying that there would be a live science show at the Atom Gallery.
Keeping a mental note to come back to the alluring and fascinating Astronomy section, I set off and walked to the Atom Gallery. It was full house, and I was lucky to get a seat on the edge. Everyone was so excited, anticipating what the science show would be about. A few moments later, a girl in a blue lab coat walked to the front of the stage, carrying a white tray with all her equipment. Everyone stared in awe as she prepared the chemicals and glassware needed for her experiment. She then explained that she would be talking about acids and bases.
I knew what acids and bases were. I knew how to read the pH meter, as well as use indicators. But the kids around me didn't. They were surprised, shocked, elated, and overjoyed to see such 'common' reactions. From a simple color change to a small fizz in the mixture, they would clap and smile. Although these weren't my reactions, something in my heart fluttered as a child would jump up and down, and beg for more. These children, I told myself, are future scientists. And to be a catalyst in making them happy, in making them want to know more about the beautiful world of Science, is what I want to do (apart from wanting to find a cure for cancer).
I then looked at the girl in the blue lab coat, smiling to herself as she'd call a child to help her with a procedure - and I told myself that I want to be like her - that I wanted to be a Mind Mover. That I wanted to inspire people and communicate the wonders of science to them.
Fast forward to the start of summer 2016, when I was enrolled in the course BSE Biology (Bachelor of Secondary Education, Major Biology, Minor Chemistry) at UP Diliman. As an Education major, I have done a few demonstrations, but these were controlled, meaning they were done inside classrooms - in front of people I knew. But I knew this was not enough. This summer, I told myself, I would break out of my comfort zone and challenge myself to be able to talk in front of people I don't know.
Then my 'secret' dream came rushing back towards me, like a cold fever on a hot night. Mind Mover. Yes, I have always wanted to be a Mind Mover, that cool scientist in a lab coat who did explosive experiments, and who was always a hit with the kids.
Why not, I asked myself. Wanting to be in front of a lot of people you don't know isn't exactly what teenagers would like to do, unless they were performers. I was no performer. I was no science legend or 'Best in Biology' awardee. I was just me, a person who wanted to be so much bigger than I was.
I think I over-prepared for the interview with Sir Art. I put everything I did from grade school up to college on my CV, and I compiled all my works in two bulky portfolios. I even showed up to the museum at 9:00 AM, two hours early for my interview.
I admit, I was really nervous; even more so during the actual interview. I think the deciding factor for Sir Art was the short demonstration of a scientific concept using puzzle pieces. I literally had no idea on how to present all the parts of a cell using weird shapes. Instead, I focused on chloroplasts and how plants used hormones to keep themselves alive. After explaining, Sir Art asked me if I had any questions about the museum. I paused for a while, trying to process what he said (I was too scared to think properly after the intense demo). After that, he smiled and welcomed me to The Mind Museum.
I was shocked. I never even thought I would get in. I mean, it was on volunteer basis but I never knew that my impromptu demo with the weird puzzle pieces was decent enough. I was elated, overjoyed - just like the children I sat with last 2012. I was so happy that I even posted a celebration post on Facebook about the feat.
Of course, I fulfilled my dream of getting accepted. Now, it was time to fulfill my dream of becoming the best Mind Mover ever (cue Pokemon theme song). The first Mind Mover demo I watched was that of Sir Pecier. He talked about "Why Space Is Dark". It was in this demo that I started to appreciate physics. Even though some of the concepts were quite challenging to explain, Sir Pecier was still able to get the crowd's attention and make them understand complex ideas. From his demo, I noticed the way he interacted with the crowd and how he always kept them on the edge of their seats before the culmination of an experiment. From him, I learned to interact with my audience, use a few Tagalog terms to make them realize that they were watching a live show in the Philippines, and to be genuinely interested in the topic.
Since I was stationed at the museum from June to July, I had to learn new experiments - some in the span of give minutes, when there was a sudden change in the schedule. However, the resident Mind Movers, particularly Ma'am Cara and Ma'am Artha, were always there to assist me. My favorite experiment, which I learned in ten minutes before doing it for the first time, was the Slime experiment. With glue, borax, water and food coloring, one could make colorful slime.
Surprisingly, kneading the water out of the semi-solid mixture was really satisfying, even though my hands always got 'slimed' with all the excess goo. A few other experiments that I really enjoyed were the Dino Demo series and Fire series.
Aside from donning that lab coat, I also did some work inside the Mind Museum office. I helped out the other interns and Sir Art with a few exhibits. I think my most significant contribution was helping my fellow interns create a larger-than-life papier mache of three dinosaurs for the Dino Sleepover.
Even with my non-existent craft skills, I was able to help piece up a dinosaur, and based on Ma'am Artha's celebration post, it was a hit during the sleepover.
During my free time, you'd either see me roaming around the museum in the Astronomy section or spending time inside the laboratory. Asked about my favorite place inside the Museum, it would be the laboratory. We interns are allowed to do experiments inside the laboratory and were told to use the chemicals there as much as we wanted - as long as we knew what we were doing. It was in the laboratory where I would 'check' the accuracy of my experiments. Also, it was in the laboratory I would stay before going out to perform.
Performance-wise, I would say that I improved a lot. From a stuttering person to a confident Science Communicator, I think that I was able to make my audience feel my passion for the sciences. Sometimes, I get comments from people saying that I was really good - but for me, I know that I can do even better. Every day, I always try to learn something new about science and technology. Even though I was really tired, I always made it a point to discover something new every day, because that's what science is all about.
Becoming an intern for The Mind Museum has been an awesome, extraordinary and fulfilling experience. All the resident Mind Movers, interns, and VSS staff were very accommodating and understanding. In the BAFI office, personal growth was always prioritized. When I was in the office, there were always happy people around - and that's exactly what my ideal workplace would be like.
Did her experience inspire you to want to volunteer for The Mind Museum's events and programs? For volunteer opportunities, email us at email@example.com.
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