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SCS partners A*STAR to promote STEM learning through Singapore Science Festival

Zafirah Salim | July 17, 2014
The festival will host a range of hands-on activities, events, workshops and guest performances island-wide from tomorrow till August 3.

For the past 14 years, Science Centre Singapore (SCS) has been collaborating with the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) for its annual Singapore Science Festival (SSF), which celebrates the dynamism of science, engineering, technology and biomedicine.

The theme for the 2014 edition of this festival is "Be the next rock star of science", which aims to rebrand scientists and technologists. Lim Tit Meng, Chief Executive of Science Centre Singapore, also co-chair of the SSF, feels that the mass impression of those who practice science has often been skewed too dramatically.

"The person in the white lab coat is just too sterile an image to represent scientists. This is often far from the fact as scientists live very interesting lives outside the lab as well. They play roles as mentors in their community, engage in community work, and are artists in their own right. They are hobbyist, inventors, and literary giants too. That is why this year's Singapore Science Festival celebrates scientists as rock stars," he explained.

Formerly known as the National Science Month, the aim of this festival is two-fold, according to Alfred Huan, Executive Director of the A*STAR's Graduate Academy and Institute of High Performance Computing (IHPC) - also one of the co-organisers for SSF.

"Firstly, we want to celebrate research and technology, as well as its developments in Singapore. Secondly, we want to showcase our innovations to the public, and instill interest in them to take up STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) careers. The SSF aims to cultivate an interest in STEM from the young, building the foundation for Singapore to grow as a hub for STEM," he said.

The SSF will host a range of hands-on activities, events, workshops and guest performances lined up all over Singapore, including Science Centre, universities, shopping malls and other public places, from July 18 to August 3, 2014.

Bigger focus on big data this year

"Unlike the past 14 years, this year is the first time we are incorporating big data," said Huan. "As technology advances, big data is becoming a bigger thing. Through this festival, we want to make the jargon of big data simple enough for the masses to appreciate," he said.

Stripping the term of its complexities, Huan went on to simply define big data by its three characteristics, otherwise known as "3Vs": volume - the amount of data; variety - the types of data; and velocity, the speed to process the data. Depending on the application, only one or all three of them could be important, he said.

Following the growth of big data, IHPC has teamed up with surgeons from the National Heart Centre to come up with Cardiowerkz - a four-dimensional (4D) heart simulation which serves as a diagnostic tool for doctors.

 

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