Ask Plus: From Question to Investigation


Do you remember when you worked on your science investigatory project? 

Science investigatory projects provide an introduction to high school students (especially for students of science high schools) into the world of research. Their projects begin with the formulation of a question, which is later shaped into a research proposal. The research is conducted over a few months, and culminates in a presentation at a science fair, much like how new research is showcased at scientific conferences.

However, it can be quite challenging to come up with innovative research as a high school student, especially since this is their first foray into research design. With this in mind, The Mind Museum recently concluded its first installment of Ask Plus, a workshop and mentoring program on how to conduct science investigatory projects. 



The program would help to cultivate in students the art of devising pertinent questions for scientific investigation. Learning to ask the right questions not only prepares one for school and research; it also hones a better understanding of the philosophy of scientific inquiry, so one can better understand the world around them.


The program also aims to arm students with the proper tools and tips in searching for answers to their questions. For instance, how can you determine if an online source is credible? Rigor and credibility are just as important in the world of science as is a sense of wonder.


Conducted last August in partnership with the Rene Cayetano Science and Technology High School in Taguig, students from grades 7-10 attended one-day sessions at the Museum, which were facilitated by the Education Team. 


The high school students were sponsored by Fort Bonifacio Development Foundation, Inc. NutriAsia also provided bottles of Locally Blended Juice Drink for the participants during their breaks.


Sessions began with simple diagnostic tests for the students, to gauge their initial understanding on the philosophy of science, and on how research is conducted. 



Afterward, the scientific method was discussed, and how questions are answered in the sciences and in engineering. While the students first defined science in a very clinical way, they soon understood that science was a method and a process, as opposed to a body of knowledge.

The session continued in the afternoon with a quiz game on finding the right online and offline sources for your research. 

The students had to guess what kinds of sources were the most appropriate, based on the information they wanted to learn. They also learned how to properly cite sources and how to read scientific journals. These are helpful tips not only for their investigative projects, but also for when they go to university and beyond.


The last part of the workshop was a consultation with the education team on the students' topics. They used this time to refine their questions, and also asked for suggestions on their research protocols. 

The students were also given the opportunity to focus on topics that they actually wanted to investigate, so they could be motivated to work.

After the workshops, The Mind Museum will be going to the school for additional consultation sessions. The students will also be mentored on their projects, to be shown at their Science Fair.



Ask Plus is a testament to how effective science education can be achieved and enhanced even outside of the classroom. In the process, the students also discovered how even seemingly mundane questions could be investigated in a scientific way, and gained a newfound appreciation and curiosity for the world around them.

Are you interested in having your students experience the Ask Plus workshop? Please email us at inquiry@themindmuseum.org

New Exhibit: Teenage Brain, Wiring In Progress!


The teenage years are a notoriously awkward period in a person's life. As we transition from childhood to adolescence, it feels like everything is happening all at once: from body changes, to new interests. 

Sometimes, we feel like we're too old for things we still enjoy, or too young for things we'd like to try. All this confusion compounds to frustration, and sometimes, angst. Teenagers often feel misunderstood, since they can sometimes find adolescence itself difficult to understand. 




The Mind Museum's newest exhibition on the teenage brain tries to untangle the mess that is the popular understanding of teenagers. Generally regarded as moody because of their hormones, teenagers should instead be understood as people whose brains are undergoing massive rewiring for an adult life.

The Teenage Brain: Wiring In Progress depicts its namesake through the metaphor of different rooms in a house. These rooms roughly map parts of the brain based on what they do, where they are, and how much they are in charge of.

Welcoming guests to the exhibition is the freedom car, housed inside the garage. The garage represents the teenager trying to build their own identity apart from their parents and the expectations of how they should present themselves to the world. 

Teens constantly tinker with their identities, which people often see as flightiness. This can make it seem that non-conformist behaviors are just phases, which be a very patronizing view of teenage identity.

The car embodies this freedom to explore new ways of expression, which, though possibly perilous, also present vast new opportunities for the growing teenager.



To the side of the garage is the yard, which depicts the social life of the teenager. Once the teen has largely abandoned the protective bubble of their parents, they go on to navigate the often scary outside social world. Peer groups can help a teen in building their identity. However, this can also lead to cliquish behavior and hive mentality. Instead of finding themselves, they instead trade imposed expectations by their parents for imposed expectations by their peers.

Conforming to peer expectations can include high risk behavior, such as indulging in alcohol, drugs, and sex. This is where the dizzying freedoms of the teenage years can become overwhelming. For, while a teen tries to fit in, they are not quite adept yet at knowing how to weigh the possible future costs of high risk behavior.

Inside the house itself, the first stop is the living room where guests are briefed by a short video on what to expect in the exhibition. The teens in this video were once Junior Mind Movers, and now adolescents in their own right. The living room introduces guests to the origins of the word "teenager", and how we came to begin studying this particular phase in life.


At the heart of the exhibition is the bedroom. This represents the active limbic system (represented by a dense branching of wires and lights as neurons) as well as the private life of the teen, which parents are infinitely curious about. 





This room shows how cruder instincts and drives might motivate a teenager's behavior over a more calculated and cerebral view. Here, you can learn about the eating habits of the teenager and why teens have such strange sleeping hours. 







The bathroom shows one of the central elements of adolescence: puberty, and how the changes it brings about can be very confusing, given societal expectations about gender identity and expression. 

You might find it confusing to find the kitchen blocked off by bars and tape. This shows how the executive part of the teenage brain, the prefrontal cortex, is still largely under construction. In adults, this part has largely developed to process risk-taking behavior and allow a person to be more circumspect in their actions. This is why it may seem that teens are brash or careless.



Many people blame this behavior on "hormones". True enough, adolescence coincides with the increased production of several sex-related and emotion-related hormones. However, we must also understand that a teenager is truly under construction. They do not yet possess all the mental faculties of an adult, and yet we impose adult expectations on them: from choosing their future careers, to having an adult's capacity to judge risks.


We hope that going through this exhibition will give you greater appreciation of what a teenager goes through, whether you have already gone through your awkward teens or just about to. Perhaps with a little understanding, we can help teens around us make the best of their formative years. 

To learn more about The Mind Museum's other traveling exhibitions as well as upcoming and regular activities, visit the museum's website, and follow the museum on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

WATCH: Ice Cream Bonanza!


As part of the Petrosains Science Festival, the resident scientists of The Mind Museum performed a science show Friday morning (September 16) on the different ways of making ice cream, and the science behind them. The science show was broadcast from the Museum to Malaysian audiences watching in the Esplanade of KLCC Park.

Watch their performance in the video below!

video

To learn more about The Mind Museum's educational programs as well as upcoming and regular activities, visit the museum's website, and follow the museum on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Scientific Life Hacks (Part One) by Angelica Y. Yang


Science isn't just something you learn in school. It's a way of knowing and understanding the world around us, and also provides us with ways to make everyday tasks easier to accomplish! With these cool life hacks backed by scientific principles, you're sure to add a little more awesomeness to your life, and help cut out unnecessary hassles.

Life Hacks for the Kitchen 

Hate soggy pizza? 

Use this life hack to turn cold pizza into a mouth-wateringly good, fresh-out-of-the-oven style meal. Be sure to use a ceramic mug for this.


Why do you need to include a mug of water while microwaving the pizza? Microwave ovens use electricity to generate microwaves. These microwaves are blasted into the pizza two seconds after you press the Start button. The commonly-used frequency of microwaves is 2.45 Gigahertz. This makes it easier for all the water, fat, and sugar components of the pizza to be converted into heat.

However, not all microwaves are blasted through the pizza; sometimes, they get reflected and bounce around the food compartment. When that happens, the top of the pizza may get burned, leaving the bottom part cold and soggy.

By adding a ceramic mug that is two-thirds full with water, you provide a "sink" for all that extra energy, and prevent your pizza from heating unevenly.

Note: Do not use plastic cups as a substitute for ceramic mugs, as plastic melts easily when subjected to heat, and can emit harmful chemicals into the air. 

Separate egg yolks from whites like a BOSS!


Separating egg yolks manually, or by transferring them from shell to shell, can be tough and time-consuming. You can actually separate egg yolks from whites much quicker using a clean and empty water bottle!

Just squeeze the water bottle, put it over the egg yolk, and then release your grasp on the bottle. According to Spangler Science, when you gently squeeze the bottle over the yolk, you decrease the air inside. Releasing your hold on the bottle will allow air to rush back inside. 

Now when you cover the mouth of the bottle with the egg yolk before releasing, the volume inside the bottle is filled by the yolk. The egg yolk separates easily from the white because of their differing viscosity.

How to keep bread fresh?


After buying a big loaf of bread, think twice before putting it inside your fridge. Unlike meats and vegetables that stay fresh under cold conditions, bread does not fare well under the same temperatures. The mythbusting website Today I Found Out tells us that you should just keep that loaf of bread at room temperature, because bread gets stale much faster when stored in the refrigerator.

When bread is baked, its molecules undergo a process called retrogradation. Retrogradation happens when the starch molecules dry out and crystallize. 

"When water molecules are detached from the starch molecules, the starch molecules take their original shape and harden again. The cool temperatures of the refrigerator make the dehydration process happen more quickly, specifically six times as fast," Today I Found Out reports. 

Life Hacks for Parties

Amuse your friends with a non-alcoholic party beverage (made out of water!)


Got friends coming to your house on short notice? We've got you covered! Colored supercooled water can look just like your regular margarita or martini, but with a refreshing and child-friendly twist. The principles of temperature-based state change are no strangers to us: "Bring a liquid below a certain temperature and it freezes. Bring a liquid or solid above a certain temperature and it becomes gas." 

But with supercooling, you can bring water below its freezing point and still keep it in its fluid state.

All you have to do, as stated in the video, is to chill purified water inside its bottle for 2 hours and 45 minutes exactly, then hit the bottle on your kitchen counter to cause the contents to instantly freeze. You may also add a few drops of food coloring at the bottom of a glass cup, pour in your supercooled water (in liquid state), and drop in a small chunk of supercooled ice. The result is a non-alcoholic beverage backed by cool science. 

Slice onions without shedding a tear!


No backyard party is complete without onion rings. Crispy, and well, made with onions, they pair up nicely with burgers and steaks. But they come with a price: your precious tears. Aside from using goggles to protect your eyes while chopping the onions, you can also refrigerate them.

Every time you cut into an onion, sulfenic acids are released from the onion. These sulfenic acids mix with other enzymes in the onion, and create the irritating, eye-burning, and tear-inducing gas called syn-propanethial-S-oxide. 

To prevent your eyes from tearing up the next time you prepare onion rings, refrigerate the onions for 30 minutes before chopping time. This reduces the onion's tendency to release the sulfenic acid.

Keep vegetables fresh and green


We can thank Chlorophylls A and B for giving vegetables their vibrant and beautiful bright green color. When vegetables are cooked for a long period of time, they secrete acids that come into contact with their green chlorophyll molecules. These acids change the chlorophyll molecules' chemical composition, turning the vegetables' color from vibrant green to an unappealing dark green.

To prevent this, cook your vegetables for exactly seven minutes, long enough for them to be cooked, but not so long that the acids turn them dark green. 


Did you enjoy the first part of The Mind Museum Blog's Science Hacks series? Like and share this post to keep your friends and family updated about the wonderful world of science!

Stay tuned for the second installment! 


REFERENCES: 

1. Pinola, M. (2011). Store Bread at Room Temperature, Not in the Fridge, For Six Times the Freshness. Retrieved September 11, 2016 from http://lifehacker.com/5832516/store-bread-at-room-temperature-not-in-the-fridge-for-six-times-the-freshness
2. Separating Egg Whites and Egg Yolks - The Lab. (n.d.). Retrieved September 11, 2016 from https;//www.stevespanglerscience.com/lab/experiments/separating-egg-whites-and-egg-yolks/
3. Spector, D. (2014). How Do Microwaves Cook Food? Retrieved September 11, 2016 from http://www.businessinsider.com/how-do-microwaves-work-2014-6
4. Supercooling Water: Thank Science For These 10 Awesome Hacks - Tested.com. Retrieved September 11, 2016 from http://www.tested.com/science/weird/459121-thank-science-these-10-awesome-hacks/item/supercooling-water/
5. Veritasium (2011). Supercooled Water - Explained! Retrieved September 11, 2016 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ph8xusY3GTM

From Duty to Wonder: Science Wonder Workshops in Mindanao! by Cara Evangelista


This year, the Mind Museum continued its mission to make science come alive to everyone by conducting Science Wonder Workshops for science teachers across the Philippines! We kicked things off in Mindanao by visiting science teachers from public schools in General Santos City last May and in Cagayan de Oro City last August.

With the support of Globe Telecom, Inc., this one-day workshop equipped the science teachers with new and engaging hands-on skills to teach science, inspiring them to look at science with a sense of wonder.

Beginning with a series of lectures and group activities, the workshop emphasized that science is not simply a subject in school, but an essential way of thinking and understanding the world. Science is wonderfully interconnected and relevant to everyday life.

The Mind Museum's curator, Maribel Garcia, opened the workshop with a thought-provoking talk.

It also sparked a discussion on how the teachers and their students viewed science, and allowed teachers to share some of the common challenges they encountered in teaching. 

For many participants, their favorite part of the day was the science show. We at The Mind Museum believe that experiments are an essential part of teaching science. They make learning science engaging and interactive, demonstrating science concepts in a memorable way.

The Mind Movers demonstrated some of these exciting experiments which can be done with readily available materials. Guides to all of these experiments can be found in the official The Mind Museum App, which you can download for free from Google Play or the App Store.

The teachers were up out of their seats, trying to get a better look at the fun science challenges and demonstrations.


To help the teachers perform these effectively, they also had a mini-theater workshop. They learned that teaching science is a performance - voice projection, subtext, and nonverbal communication enhance the teaching and learning experience. Using the techniques of a good storyteller, a teacher can make their lesson memorable and increase interest in the subject. 

It was then their turn to do some hands-on experiments, applying everything they had learned throughout the day. The teachers were put into groups and challenged to perform one experiment and explain it in a fun and interactive way. Although they had less than an hour to practice and prepare, the teachers delivered.

A teacher performed the "Burn Your Money" experiment (left); Teachers acting out the process of photosynthesis (top right); One group's performance incorporating the "disappearing act" when Betadine and vitamin C are mixed together (bottom right).

Some groups explained the experiment by acting out the molecules, or using a song and dance. They came up with creative performances and narratives for their demonstrations. And at the end of the day, the teachers told us that they felt more confident to present and teach science, and that they were energized for the school year ahead. 

High school teacher Geraldine Toledo thanked us, saying, "We really learned a lot...May you continue to extend help to science teachers like us so that we will become more knowledgeable and motivated to inspire students to love SCIENCE. You made us realize that SCIENCE IS COOL!"

After the success of our first two workshops, we are more excited than ever to continue working with teachers and help them in inspiring their students to wonder and understand science!


Congratulations to our Science Wonder Workshop participants! General Santos City (top), Cagayan de Oro City (bottom).

To learn more about The Mind Museum's educational programs as well as upcoming and regular activities, visit the museum's website, and follow the museum on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.




What is the Anthropocene? by Pecier Decierdo


There was a time when dinosaurs ruled the Earth. Then there was a time, far more ancient, when life moved from sea to land. Deeper yet in time, there was an age when the activities of single-celled microorganisms left lasting marks on the planet. It is then that our atmosphere got filled with oxygen. We are still breathing the effects of that long-gone but momentous era. 

Right now, many scientists argue, we are in the age when human activities have become a dominant force in the planet. We are in the "age of humans". We have entered the Anthropocene. 

A shale oil plant emitting smoke. Experts think that human activities such as agriculture and energy production
are leaving lasting marks on the planet.
(Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

In a recent meeting, scientists in the Working Group on the Anthropocene (WGA) voted to officially declare a new age in the history of the Earth. Called the 'Anthropocene epoch', this is the stage in Earth's history when human activities have made lasting marks in the geologic record. Previous to this decision, geologists defined the present as part of the Holocene epoch. Scientists in the working group propose the mid-20th century as the end of the Holocene and the beginning of the Anthropocene. 

This decision, however, is not yet written in stone. Not all scientists are as excited as the members of the WGA about changing the textbooks to include the Anthropocene epoch. It has something to do with the very unique way the idea of the Anthropocene came about. 

Reading the rocks

Geologists look at the layers of rocks and ice for clues about what happened in the Earth's past. By piecing together these clues, geologists have come up with a scenario about what happened in different stages of the Earth's 4.6 billion year history.

The clues in the rock and ice are collectively called the geologic record. The geologic record allows geologists to answer questions about the Earth's past. How old is this layer of rock? Was the Earth relatively warm or cool during the time the rock formed? What was the composition of the atmosphere then? What organisms were plentiful at the time? Geologists answer these questions by looking at changes in the chemical composition and kinds of fossils found in the geologic record.

Using the geologic record, scientists have organized the Earth's 4.6-billion year history in what is known as the geologic time scale. 

Each part of the geologic time scale represents a stage in the Earth's history that has left a permanent mark in the geologic record.

The geologic time scale.
(Photo credit: Ray Troll)

One can think of it this way. The geologic record is the evidence. The geologic time scale is the scenario. The geologists are the investigators who gather the evidence and try to come up with the scenario that best fits the evidence.

Often, like good investigators, geologists start with the geologic record. Using the record, they come up with stages of the geologic time scale.

For example, by analyzing layers of ice, geologists discovered that the last major ice age ended 11,700 years ago. Before the end of that ice age the Earth was much cooler; the glaciers covered a larger part of the planet, and sea levels were lower. When that major ice age ended, the Earth warmed, the glaciers receded, and the 'land bridges' were flooded and cut. Geologists use this as evidence for the end of the Pleistocene epoch, an epoch ruled by ice, and the beginning of the Holocene. The relatively stable and warm climate of the Holocene is what made human civilization possible. 

A unique epoch

The Anthropocene was proposed by Paul Crutzen and Eugene Stormer in 2000. The idea behind it was to illustrate how far-reaching the effects of human activities were. Humans, Crutzen and Stormer argued, are shaping the planet in ways that will leave permanent marks in the geologic record. We are disrupting the balance of the Earth to the point that we are out of the stable, balmy Holocene and have entered a new era.

This makes the Anthropocene unique among other stages in the geologic time scale. Instead of being suggested by the geologic record, the Anthropocene was suggested by observations of the present day world.

Ever since Crutzen and Stormer proposed the Anthropocene, scientists have added to the list of human-caused events that they think might leave marks in the geologic record. 

One example of the effects of human activities is the extinction of a lot of species.

Species go extinct all the time. The average number of species going extinct every one million years is known and is called the 'background extinction rate'. Ever since humans have come into the picture, the rate of extinction has dramatically risen above this background extinction rate. This has led many scientists to propose that a mass extinction is currently underway. 

There have been five other mass extinctions in the history of the planet. The most popular among these is the extinction of the non-avian dinosaurs that happened about 65.5 million years ago. It was probably caused by a meteor strike. In her book, The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, Elizabeth Kolbert argues that humans are responsible for the current sixth wave of mass extinction.

The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert, where Kolbert argues that humans are causing the
sixth mass extinction even in the Earth's history.
(Photo credit: Henry Holt & Company)

Many have argued that this mass extinction can be an indicator for the Anthropocene. However, since most of the species humans have made extinct had limited ranges (the dodo only lived on the island of Mauritius), such extinctions are not likely to leave marks on the geologic record.

In order to justify the addition of the Anthropocene in the geologic time scale, an identifiable geologic marker must be found. Scientists in the WGA have suggested several possible markers.

One contender is the increase in the amount of artificial radioactive isotopes in the rocks. These isotopes mark the beginning of the nuclear era, when humans started detonating nuclear bombs that spread these artificial isotopes around the globe. 

Another contender is the increase in the amount of plastic found in the sediments that will eventually become rock. Most of these are "microplastics" which have made their way from human settlements to areas as far as the deep sea floor.

Another popular candidate is the spike in global temperature brought about by the rise in greenhouse gases. This is closely linked to two other candidates, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (which can be recorded by bubbles trapped in ice) and the spread of unburned carbon spheres emitted by factories.

Other candidates include aluminum and concrete particles in the soil, the doubling of nitrogen in phosphorus in the ground due to fertilizer use, and even the widespread fossil remains of farmed chickens. 

Some way to go before going official

The WGA does not have the power to officially recognize a new epoch in the geologic time scale. That responsibility goes to the International Commission on Stratigraphy (ICS). The working group's decision only serves as a proposal to the ICS. Upon approval by the ICS, an even higher body, the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS), must ratify the addition of a new epoch.


Workflow for approval of a revision to the geologic time scale. 
(Photo credit: The Geological Society of America)

This can be an issue, as some members of the ICS are not very sure about the validity of the new epoch. Stanley Finney and Lucy Edwards, both members of the ICS, point out that the geologica time scale is about the past while the Anthropocene is about the present and future. They also pointed out that, unlike previous epochs, which have been suggested by the geologic record, the Anthropocene was proposed before geologic evidence can be gathered and analyzed. 

Finney and other scientists have another objection to the Anthropocene - it is very short. "Its duration is that of an average human lifespan," Finney wrote in a commentary published by the Geologic Society of America. Critics of the Anthropocene say there has not been enough time since the mid-20th century to leave a record in the rocks and ice. 

This has led Finney, who chairs the ICS, to ask whether scientists are being asked to make a political rather than a scientific statement in ratifying the Anthropocene epoch.

Jan Zalasiewicz, chair of the WGA, understands Finney's skepticism. "Our stratigraphic colleagues are very protective of the geologic time scale, " Zalasiewicz told The Guardian. "They see it very rightly as the backbone of geology and they do not amend it lightly." Still, he is confident he can convince his fellow scientists about the Anthropocene. "I think we can prepare a pretty good case," he said.

And many other scientists are on his side.

Chris Rapley, a climate scientist at University College London, agrees with the recommendation of the WGA. "The Anthropocene marks a new period in which our collective activities dominate the planetary machinery," he told The Guardian. "It is highly appropriate that geologists should pay formal attention to the change in the signal within sedimentary rock layers that will be clearly apparent to future generations of geologists for as long as they exist."

Rapley also said that the 'great acceleration' in human activity in the past century constitutes a "strong, detectable, and incontrovertible signal" for the Anthropocene. Rapley is not part of the WGA. 

Not all experts who believe in the Anthropocene are excited, however. 

Clive Hamilton, an ethicist at Charles Sturt University in Australia, warned against scientists who declared, "Welcome to the Anthropocene".

"At first I thought they were being ironic, but now I see they are not. And that's scary," Hamilton wrote in the journal Nature. "The idea of the Anthropocene is not welcoming. It should frighten us. And scientists should present it as such."

Even if approved, it might take years for the new Anthropocene epoch to be added to the textbooks. But if it happens, most of us woulud have lived our lives in an age dominated by the effects of human activities. And there might be no coming back.


REFERENCES: 

1. Carrington, D. (2016, August 29). The Anthropocene epoch: scientists declare dawn of human-influenced age. The Guardian. Retrieved from: https://www.theguardian.com
2. Johnston, I. (2016, August 29). Anthropocene: Planet Earth has entered new man-made epoch, experts say. Independent. Retrieved from: http://www.independent.co.uk.
3. Stromberg, J. (2013, January). What is the Anthropocene and are we in it? Smithsonian.com. Retrieved from: http://www.smithsonianmag.com.
4. Finney, S.C., & Edwards, L.E. (2016). The 'Anthropocene' epoch: Scientific decision or political statement? GSA Today, 26(3) 4-10. Retrieved from http://www.geosociety.org
5. Williams, M. et al. (2016). The Anthropocene: a conspicuous stratigraphical signal of anthropogenic changes in production and consumption across the biosphere. Earth's Future, 4(3): 33-53. DOI: 10.1002/2015EF000339. 
6. Waters, C.N. et al. (2016). The Anthropocene is functionally and stratigraphically distinct from the Holocene. Science, 351(6269). DOI: 10.1126/science.aad2622.
7. University of California Museum of Paleontology. Geologic time scale. Retrieved from: http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu.
8. Subcomission on Quaternary Stratigraphy. Working Group on the 'Anthropocene'. Retrieved from: http://quaternary.stratigraphy.org.


An Extraordinary Summer by Angelica Y. Yang


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 volunteers@themindmuseum.org.

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