Science Festival 2018 - A Success Yet Again!

4000 happy faces visited our Science Festival 2018, last weekend!

The silence that usually envelops the OIST campus on weekends was broken by excited voices of young children and adults this Saturday. The OIST Science Festival 2018 took place on November 17 and recorded over 4000 visitors on the campus, listening to and interacting with OIST scientists and students, as they demonstrated some simple, but fun experiments.

An annual public event, the OIST Science Festival is packed with exciting science activities for people of all ages. This year, Dr. Masonari Iye, Professor Emeritus National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, and Dr. Shiro Yamazaki, Assistant Professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology’s Department of Physics, were invited as guest speakers. While Dr. Iye spoke about the history of the Universe, its future and the ongoing search for another planet like Earth, Dr. Yamazaki kept his young audience captive with a hands-on session where he taught  them to make  colorful spinning tops, that don’t stop  spinning.

“I do not have a background in science but I brought my daughters to this event, as science festivals such as these encourage young children to develop  curiosity,” said Carl Geary, a father from Australia.

OIST scientists demonstrate how liquid nitrogen changes the property of objects by freezing them to temperatures as low as -196 C º.

OIST scientists show how honeybees live in tightly packed and compact hives. Though small in size, honeybees play a critical role in keeping our ecosystem up and running.

OIST researchers too shared stories about their research. Dr. Takahiro Nishibayashi of the Physics and Biology Unit gave the visitors a peek into the marine world where cephalopods like octopuses and squids dwell.  With the success of the Basho-fu exhibition that was previously on display in OIST, Dr. Yoko Nokomura, Science and Technology Associate, spoke about the exquisite Basho-fu fabric woven from banana fibers. Dr. Christopher Petoukhoff, a postdoctoral researcher in the Femtosecond Spectroscopy Unit  demonstrated the science behind some mouth-wide-open magic tricks!

With a sleight of hand, Dr.Christopher Petoukhoff in his show explained the science behind magic!

“I am having a lot of fun,” said Wakako Ishikawa who accompanied her niece and nephew on her first visit to the OIST Science Festival. “It was the first time I saw a starfish,” she exclaimed excitedly.

Children look at the marine creatures and corals that were on display at the OIST Science Festival 2018.

In addition to scientific talks, hands-on experience sessions were also present. Visitors could interact with the almost human like robot from the Cognitive Neurobiology Research Unit or learn to build a terrarium- a mini-sized ecosystem, using plants and PET bottles. These short workshop-like events provided visitors an opportunity to interact with scientists and learn more about the work they do.

A young visitor with one of the robots on display.

Six-year-old Ryuto Yamakawa, from Okinawa City, proudly showed off the terrarium he made. “I liked doing it on my own,” he said.

A young and a very elated Hiroaki Kinjo said “the  Monster Toothpaste Experiment booth was my favorite,” referring to the booth demonstrating the reaction of  hydrogen peroxide when mixed with yeast and dishwashing soap.

Children participate in the “Monster Toothpaste Experiment” at OIST Science Festival 2018.
Santanu Mondal

Food stalls selling a variety of meals such as popular Japanese bento boxes, curry and taco rice, samosas and chai-tea, vegan burgers and authentic Okinawan Soba noodles, were also set-up at OIST ‘s Center Court, allowing visitors to refuel before heading back to participate in more events.

A visitor makes a purchase at one of the many food stalls that were set up at the OIST Science Festival 2018.




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