Science Festival 2018 - A Success Yet Again!
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 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!
“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.
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.
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.
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.