Celebrating 20 years of Petrosains

A poster that charts the 20 Years of Wonder in the journey of Petrosains since its Discovery Center started in 1999

With cars parked on both sides of the road, the traffic was congested along Jalan Yahya Awal during the weekend especially with buses stopping for students to alight or board in front of the Johor Public Library.

This was because the entire carpark in the Library compound was transformed into the festival ground for the Petrosains Science Festival 2019 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Petrosains since its Discovery Centre was opened in Kuala Lumpur in 1999.

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To mark its 20th anniversary, the celebration was extended to all four Petrosains PlaySmart centres located in Kota Kinabalu (Sept 28 & 29), Kuantan (Oct 5 & 6), Kuching (Oct 12 & 13) and Johor Bahru (Oct 19 & 20), with the main event held from 1st to 3rd November at Petrosains Discovery Centre, Suria KLCC and the Esplanade, KLCC Park.

This annual festival was organised to engage and inspire the community, particularly the younger generation, on the wonders and importance of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) in our daily lives.

A student observes the wonder of how gravity works in this demonstration

This year’s event tagline, Meet the Future, brought STEM to life through a diverse mix of activities that range from interactive to innovative workshops, interesting exhibitions, educational talks, fun science shows, entertaining performances and other exciting activities.

Through the festival, which was open to the public free-of-charge, Petrosains the corporate social responsibility arm of PETRONAS, aspires to make science a culture in the nation and help to produce a future generation of scientifically literate and critical thinking people through an engaging, interesting and accessible learning platform.

In short, the festival simply aimed to introduce STEM by presenting it in a fun and approachable manner through the joint effort of the science and technology community and participating partners.

The festival provided a unified platform where partners from corporations, industry players, government linked companies and agencies, academics and institutions worked together to inspire and instill an appreciation towards STEM in the community.

Among the partners involved in the festival held in JB were the Johor Public Library as the venue provider, Bank Simpanan Nasional, UBTECH, Young Scientists Network Malaysia, UiTM Music Faculty, Tourism Malaysia and The British Council.

Held in conjunction with Petrosains’ 20th anniversary, this year’s festival was all about celebrating STEM and curated with a focus on STEM related content and activities that were geared towards showcasing the wonders of these fields while looking at the scientific and technological advancements of the future.

Participants in a Science Workshop to build an electrical circuit using dough

“For the past 20 years, PETRONAS has grown to become a locally and globally recognised institution that provides informal learning of STEM and regarded as an important supporting component in the nation’s education landscape,” said Petrosains Chief Executive Officer, Fedora Zulkifli.

“Through the festival, we want to bring STEM even closer to the community and provide more credible and interesting learning in STEM directly to the masses.

With Johor Bahru among the five venues for the Petrosains Science Festival this year, we hope to benefit the community in Johor by sharing meaningful and impactful learning experiences while providing a fun and enjoyable time to visitors,” she added.

At the entrance, visitors were given a programme flyer with information on the list of activities with times and locations planned from 10am to 6.30pm daily, so that visitors could plan their route around the festival ground in the outdoor and indoor sections.

There was a carnival atmosphere as busloads of students, ranging from preschoolers to teenagers, escorted by teachers and helpers were coming and going, while families with young children in strollers were among the visitors here.

I spotted long queues waiting to experience two of the fun activities set up in the Futuristic Room, equipped with high-tech gadgets that would change our lifestyle forever, and the Infinity Room where visitors had fun snapping selfies and we-fies to a mirrored backdrop for ad infinitum images.

An outdoor stage was set up under a canopy with benches arranged for the audience to watch shows being staged at various times in the schedule.

I was pleased to catch two particularly informative shows; one that educated visitors on the use of drones in medical emergencies and the other on the wonders of Cryogenic in an exciting series of scientific demonstrations which culminated in an explosive end.

I peeked into the various stalls and booths to watch how students were expressing wonder and delight at the powers of gravity, robotics, telephone microscopes and levitating water drops, among other thrilling experiences.

An explosive end to the Cryogenic show held in the outdoor section of Petrosains PlaySmart, Science Festival 2019 in Johor Bahru

The Petrosains PlaySmart gallery is housed within the Library premises and equipped with interactive displays for visitors to have their own hands-on experiences to learn and understand a range of scientific principles and concepts.

In a separate section, workshops were conducted in a schedule and I was on time to join participants in learning to build an electrical circuit using dough.

All the equipment and ingredients were provided so participants – the youngsters being helped by adults – followed instructions issued by the facilitator to complete the project step-by-step.

Admissions to the workshops were on a first-come-first-served basis so the late-comers were turned away and advised to wait for the next workshop listed in the schedule.

Other interesting workshops included a project to assemble a hydraulic lamp, a LED Light Box, a Mini 3-D Projector and Aqua-phonics at Home: Using LED Lights in gardening.

There was something interesting for everyone to enjoy and experience besides observing scientific demonstrations like joining Zumba exercise activities, listening to talks about the Science in Banking and taking part in a quiz hosted by Tourism Malaysia.

The Petrosains Science Festival had certainly come a long way in the past 20 years since the first festival was celebrated in 2013 at the Discovery Centre in KLCC.

Since 2018, the annual science festival was brought to Petrosains satellite centres in Kuantan and JB and this year, the festival was also held at Kota Kinabalu and Kuching.

Petrosains PlaySmart Johor Bahru in the Johor Public Library is located at Jalan Yahya Awal, 80100 Johor Baru. For enquiries, Tel: +607 – 224 5498 or email: psmartjb@gmail.com