June Holiday Excursions 2015: Discover the lost world of dinosaurs at Plaza Singapura

Last Friday, we were very fortunate to be invited to the media preview of Dinosaurize Me! 2015, a collaboration between Plaza Singapura and the Science Centre Singapore, and it was SO much fun.

Dinosaurize Me! 2015 at Plaza Singapura

Dinosaurize Me! 2015, part of Plaza Singapura’s ‘Science in the Mall’ programme

It was incredible to see the Argentinosaurus (the largest sauropod fossil ever discovered) in all its glory, set up in the main atrium of Plaza Singapura and stretching right up to the 3rd level of the shopping centre!

We remember wandering about the feet of  the Argentinosaurus from its inaugural appearance at the Science Centre Singapore’s Titans of the Past exhibition last year, so it was a real treat to be able view this colossal skeleton from all angles just by going up and down the various levels of the shopping centre. It really puts the dinosaur’s enormous size into perspective!

Budding young palaeontologists will really enjoy digging for casts of dinosaur bones in the sandpit which is open to the public from 11am-8pm daily. I was really impressed to see that the dinosaur bones could also be put together to make a full skeleton!

J and Little E also took part in the various workshops at the Dino Fun Zone which will be also running daily until the 14th of June. For a nominal fee of $5, children can take part in these educational, hands-on activities and discover more about dinosaurs! J was intrigued by the Geological Timeline workshop whilst Little E got her hands very messy at the Fossil Casting workshop, making fossil casts using rubber moulds.

(By the way, if you’re interested in the Fossil Casting workshop, do be aware that it takes about an hour for the casts to dry out enough to be removed from the moulds – a good excuse to do a little bit of Great Singapore Sale shopping!)

Educational workshops ($5 each)

Educational workshops at the Dino Fun Zone – Fossil Making and Geological Timeline Workshops

My favourite workshop for kids was the Stop Motion workshop. During this half hour session, J and Little E coloured and cut out various dinosaurs and used a stop-motion mobile app to create their own little short video!

Stop Motion workshop ($5) at Dinosaurize Me!

J and Little E at the Stop Motion workshop

For this particular workshop, you need to have a smartphone or a tablet (with a camera) on hand. Being slightly technophobic, I don’t own either, but the very kind Science Centre rep who was running the workshop helped us out by using her iPhone (thanks, Cynthia!).

Here is J’s little video about a T-rex chasing some herbivores (everyone runs away when the volcano suddenly erupts).

Little E’s video is much more cuddly – it’s about how a Daddy triceratops chases away a T-Rex who is menacing his family (the Daddy triceratops even bites the T-rex in the ankle!)

There are also live science shows taking place during the weekends at 1.30pm, 4.30pm and 7.30pm. During the show, kids will get to find out more about how scientists deduce the behaviour of dinosaurs from observing their fossilised remains. Unfortunately, due to having to feed little Thumper, we missed the science show preview – so I guess we will have to return to Plaza Singapura this weekend and try to catch it then!

Dinosaurize Me! 2015 will be on at Plaza Singapura Shopping Centre daily from 11am – 8pm, until the 14th of June. Entry to the Exhibition and the weekend live Science shows are free. The daily workshops at the Dino Fun Zone run at half an hour slots and are priced at $5 per entry.

Weekend Special: Science Street Fair 2013 at the Science Centre Singapore

Hurrah, hurrah for Science Centre Singapore’s 35th Anniversary!

This year, the Science Centre Singapore is throwing a huge celebration with an Open House from the 8 to 11 November 2013, held in conjunction with Singapore’s first Science Street Fair. This is a carnival with over 100 stalls featuring science-related performances, games and hands-on workshops for all the family. Admission to the Science Centre is free during the open house, although some of the stalls and workshops require the purchase of coupons.

This is a brilliant time to visit, as there are a ton of brilliant science demonstrations going on at all hours and purchase of Science Street Fair coupons include discounts to other gated attractions such as the new Titans of the Past Exhibition (which is definitely worth a visit).

We started off our visit with the Fire Tornado Show, which takes place at 3pm and 7pm daily during the Open House. J and Little E were both awed by this impressive display which is contained within a 6 metre high glass and steel structure with angled vents at the bottom that draw in air to feed the flames and twist them into a tower of fire.


Feeling hot, hot, hot!

The Fire Tornado exhibit is an original masterpiece designed by local inventor, Dr Her-Mann Tsai, who is a fellow of the Science Centre Singapore. Yay, Singapore!

After the flames died away, we headed over to the Inflatable Planetarium. J and Little E are big fans of the BBC series ‘Wonders of the Solar System’ so I knew that they were sure to enjoy this chance to view all the constellations and planets which are difficult to see in our city-lit night sky. The Planetarium shows are at 11:30am, 1.30pm, 3.30pm and 5.30pm, and cost $5 a person (they were kind enough not to charge me for my two preschoolers).

There is a limit of 40 people per session, so we signed up early and stuck around to do some crafts. The kids busied themselves making a paper sundial and a pin-hole model of the constellation ‘Sagittarius’.



Afterwards, we were herded into the inflatable planetarium where J listened intently to the science educator as he showed us the different constellations and talked about the planets.  Little E just lay on her back, looking up at the little dots of light and pointing excitedly.

The projected images were amazingly clear and detailed, and we could even zoom in on the surfaces of distant planets and identify surface landmarks. It was like taking a trip through space!


Indoor stargazing is fun!

We then headed round the corner towards the Watson DNA Lab, where there are DNA Extraction Workshops at 11am and 3pm (with an extra session at 4pm due to high demand!) at $5 a participant. I was able to sneak a peek into the lab, where kids were extracting DNA from samples of fruits and grains.


Mini-Forensic Scientists at Work!

(If you take a closer look, you can see Meips and Noey with V from Life is in the Small Things! She writes about the DNA extraction workshop here.)

We decided to give the DNA workshop a miss as I felt the learning content would be too complicated for preschoolers. Instead, I let the kids craft their own double-helix strand to take home.


Fun rides, performances and displays

It was really fun exploring the various corners of the Science Centre! There was so much going on there, we didn’t get a chance to see all of it before it was time to head over to the Atrium for the Tesla Coil Chainmail Demonstration.


3.5million volts of electricity goes ZAP

This demonstration takes place 12pm, 5pm and 8pm during the Open House, and it is spectacular to see the purple fingers of electricity arcing through the air! J and Little E had to cover their ears because it created an incredibly loud buzzing noise.

As if that wasn’t impressive enough, a knight appeared clad from head to toe in heavy chainmail and clanked his way to a podium. All of us watched with bated breath as he was zapped with 3.5million volts of electricity[1].

It was amazing, watching this guy basically get hit by lightning and survive. You could even see the electricity passing through the chainmail and reappearing as tiny streaks of light from his fingertips.


Chainmail dude makes KABOOM!

Finally, the knight drew his rapier and directed the electricity towards two balloons filled with highly-combustible hydrogen gas. The balloons each exploded with a satisfying ball of fire to the combined ‘WHOOOOA’ of the crowd. AWESOME. STUFF.[2]

After this, we headed over to Snow City (admission is 50% off with Science Street Fair coupons) to freeze our noses tobogganing down an icy slope in a rubber tube[3]. There are also some super cool science experiments to take part in at Snow City, including making instant ice cream!

It was close to dinner so we decided to head off, although there was still so much to see and do at the Science Street Fair. We might have to go back again for another round!

Science Centre Singapore: 15 Science Centre Road, Singapore 609081

1.Well, all of us except my dear boy, J, who screamed “FRY HIM!!!!!”
2.It made you want to punch your fist in the air and yell “SCIENCE!!!!!”
3.I would only recommend this activity if you have never had the opportunity to see or play in snow before. It can be tedious after a while, especially if you are not adequately dressed for winter weather.

Titans of the Past Exhibition, Science Centre Singapore

Last Friday, we were invited to attend the opening of the Titans of the Past – Dinosaurs and Ice Age Mammals exhibition at the Science Centre Singapore. This is a massive display of real fossils and animatronic dinosaurs on loan from The Museum of the Rockies in Montana, USA, as well as animatonic ice age animals and life-sized fossil casts from Argentina’s Aurea Exhibitions.


Getting ready to learn about dinosaurs and Ice Age mammals

J and Little E were really excited about visiting the Science Centre, as it is one of their favourite haunts, and I told them all about the fossils and robot dinosaurs [1] that they would get to see. They were so excited to receive trail and activity booklets tailored to their learning levels at the start of the exhibition! You can see them clutching the books in the photo above.

The exhibition hall is really huge, around 3000 square metres, and it is quite dark inside (although the information panels and the specimens are very well lit), so if your children don’t like the dark, do bribe warn them in advance[2].


Finding out about the Torosaurus

We were absolutely captivated by the fossils that we saw! The children were in awe of the size of the creatures, and jostled with each other to get a good view of them. Each exhibit was accompanied by a series of well written and illustrated panels that showed how paleontologists gather information about the habits and behaviour of extinct animals by studying their skeletons and comparing them to living animals.


J examines one of the many didactic panels and finds the only spelling error in the room.

What I found particularly fascinating was the work done by Dr Jack Horner[3] (the curator of Paleontology at the Museum of the Rockies) and his research team in comparing fossil specimens and discovering that the previous classification of dinosaur species did not account for the changes that an animal would go through as part of its natural development from birth to adulthood.

The beautifully displayed array of detailed Triceratops skull casts (seen in the picture above) shows how young dinosaur skull has such a vastly different appearance from an adult that it was mistaken for a different species of dinosaur by past paleontologists.

Little E, who was feeling a little bit reserved in the dark environment, was particularly taken by the idea of a ‘baby’ Triceratops and this helped to dispel any further fears she had about meeting the robot dinosaurs. In fact, the first animatronic display we encountered was that of a mother Triceratops protecting her young.


Little E likes the baby Triceratops and meets a ‘real’ one!

J and Little E were so concerned for the baby Triceratops that they carried on talking to the mother and reassuring her that they would not hurt the baby! I personally felt that it was a smart move to put a less intimidating dinosaur in the front of the exhibition.


Meeting the Argentinosaurus and Tyrannosaurus

We were most impressed by the size of the dinosaur skeleton specimens and casts. One of the casts, a life-sized Argentinosaurus, was so big that it took up almost the whole room and stretched nearly to the ceiling! J was particularly interested in the infamous T-rex, and its enormous teeth, growing in overlapping rows like a shark.

The animatronic dinosaurs were very life-like and were accompanied by very loud roars. Little E was a little bit nervous in approaching them, but as soon as she remembered that they were only robots (albeit very life-like robots developed by Japanese robotics company Kokoro in consultation with Dr Jack Horner) she became very brave indeed and started roaring back at them.


Little E says ‘RAWRR’

There were so many fun interactive exhibits along the way, as well as a series of activity tables where the kids could do some colouring or craft work to learn about different species of dinosaurs. Bigger kids would probably enjoy watching the videos detailing the work of scientists in postulating the behaviour of extinct animals or attending one of the hands-on dinosaur forensic workshops.

J and Little E had fun participating in a mock paleontology dig site. The two of them squatted there for ages, ankle deep in fine sand, conscientiously using brushes to painstakingly uncover a half-buried fossil.


Participating in a paleontology dig site and meeting some Ice-age mammals

Right at the end of the exhibition was a display of animatronic ice-age mammals such as the mammoth and the sabre-toothed cat. Apparently, it is the first time that Aurea Exhibitions has brought their work to Asia!

Sadly, all these magnificent animatronic mammals were crammed into a much smaller area, which meant that general effect on visitors was much less impressive (and the cacophony of sounds meant that my kids were not keen to remain in that room for long!) However, it was still interesting to look at these extinct creatures and compare them to the animals that are still living in our world today. J and Little E were certainly very curious about how these mammals lived and what the world might have looked like during the Ice Age.

If your kids are fascinated by dinosaurs, it is definitely worth bringing them to the Science Centre for a visit! The Titans of the Past exhibition is open now until the 24th February 2014. Click here for more information.

1. Or ‘Dinosaur robots’ as Little E insists that they are called.

2. At the launch of the exhibition, we were each given tiny little LED keychain torches to carry inside the hall, which my kids absolutely loved. If you have a small torchlight or pen-torch at home, bring it along and your children can pretend that they are real explorers!

3. Who, incidentally, was also the technical advisor for the Jurassic Park movies! Now I know who to blame for that T-rex scene that gave me the twitches for a year.