Sunday, December 28, 2014

Science is Fun at the Philippine Science Centrum

Who says science is boring? Not if you happen to be at the Philippine Science Centrum (PSC) at the Riverbanks Center in Barangka, Marikina City. Located at the E-Com Building along A. Bonifacio Avenue, the PSC is a hands-on science museum recognized by the Department of Education, Department of Science and Technology, and the Department of Tourism for its awesome exhibits.

A project of the Philippine Foundation for Science and Technology, a private foundation that promotes science education in the country, the PSC has something for everyone – even for those who don’t consider themselves science buffs. All it takes to appreciate the exhibits is sense of wonder and an inquiring mind. 

That’s really not difficult because there’s a lot to do there. At the PSC, young and old alike can dabble in different interactive science experiments, making it an ideal destination for students and the general public.
Amazing optical illusion - head on
a platter

If you’ve ever been curious about the “how” and “why” of things, you’ll certainly get all the answers at the PCS with its “scienterrific” offerings. This is the place where visitors can touch, twist, play, hear, and see over a hundred exhibits in 11 exciting galleries, namely, Lights, Bodyworks, Mathematics, Electricity & Magnetism, Water, Vision and Perception, Infectious Diseases, Earth Science, Space, Kids’ World, and Mechanics.

My family and I were fortunate to be invited there recently and the trip was certainly worth it. I learned how a roast pig feels with its head on a platter, one of the many amusing optical illusions at the PSC. Another personal favorite is the distorted room which showed my two kids (who almost have the same height) in different sizes.

Kurt trying out the Magic Mirror
This is actually a replica of the original Ames room invented in 1934 by the American ophthalmologist Adelbert Ames Jr. who was apparently influenced by the writings of the German physician and physicist Hermann Helmholtz. When viewed with one eye through a pinhole, the person finds nothing extraordinary about the room. But when people start walking in it, they dramatically change in size.

There’s a scientific reason for this optical illusion. The real shape of the room is trapezoidal, meaning the walls are slanted and the ceiling and floor are inclined. The right corner is also closer to the viewer than the left corner. This explains why a person standing in one corner looks like a giant and suddenly becomes a dwarf at the other corner.

Another display that caught my eye (and hair) at the PSC was the Van de Graaff generator. You’ve probably seen this device somewhere – it’s the big aluminum ball on top of a pedestal. Invented by the American physicist Robert Jemison Van de Graaff in 1931, this device can chalk up to 20 million volts of electricity and was made to provide the energy needed by atom smashers. Luckily, the one at the PSC is used mainly for experimentation purposes and won’t shock anyone.

However, it will literally make your hair stand on end. This happens because the device transfers static electricity to the person touching it. As the hair follicles are charged, they repel reach other. This is one hair-raising experiment you can’t miss!

I could give you many more reasons to visit the PSC but it’s best to go there yourself. Bring the family along and discover the wonderful world of science.

Visit Philippine Science Centrum: