As a change of pace, we all spent this morning in our accommodation working on our group assignments. It was a very productive morning; we all managed to put quite a large dent into the workload with which we are faced over the next few weeks. Overall, I was very happy with how well our team – team Pico – worked together, and I am sure we will have no issues completing the work on time.
Our afternoon visit to the SMART-CREATE MIT Centre was also a productive and enjoyable one. We were given a short but insightful tour through the institute’s laboratories, and we were given detailed descriptions of some of the techniques that are implemented. One such example was the production of microfluidic devices, involving the use of a negative mould over which a substance (polydimethylsiloxane) is poured and set, giving rise to micron-sized channels. It was also interesting to learn about the medical applications of this technology.
Overall, it was a laid back yet interesting and productive day.
The plans for today didn’t work out as we hoped to have an industry visit however it turned out to be a bonus for the students as it gave us some much needed time to catch up and start organising group work. This day started off with team nano meeting together to organised the various part of the group work and also started to research key parts of the assignments.
After this morning of intense researching driven by the team leader Trey Guest, we went to meet Paul who took us to the SMART CREATE MIT centre. This was mainly focused on micro fluidics and the applications they can have. It was really educational to see how they mircofluidics were made and how they could be applied to problems that hospitals face. It was really intruging to learn how cancerous cells where separated from normal cells considering that they are almost identical. Today was an extra day to plan our assignments that we hadn’t planned on and therefore it was super relieving.
Today was incredibly busy as Paul whisked us off to lab after lab, presentation after presentation and finally ending the day with a demonstration on how physics principles can be applied in everyday life. But before we went anywhere we met the tour hosts who were introduced to us with one of Paul’s famous name, course and fun fact games. The day was really interesting and some highlights from the lab visits where the room sized ion accelerator, the 800m2 clean room and the PhD student who trapped single molecules and experimented on them. This was quickly followed up by incredibly educational presentations on Quantum mechanics and in particular quantum entanglement. After this we were told of the importance the NUS places on studying abroad with over 70% of its students studying overseas for some time during their course. The day was finished by an hour and a half demonstration on how physics could be incorporated and demonstrated in everyday life.
I found today to be really interesting as it really highlighted the different focuses that NUS had compared to La Trobe university. NUS as previously stated has an amazing rate of undergraduates students going on an exchange with 70% of students visiting another country during their studies. Latrobe University has a massive focus in trying to enrol new students and while there are programs dedicated to taking students overseas( this program being one example) the rate of exchange is definitely not anywhere near 70%. A further difference between the universities is that NUS has 50% of the students undertaking a subject in science and engineering. La Trobe University has most of the students in the Health Sciences and Humanities faculties. This makes it a lot harder for Latrobe to get the funding to buy the more expensive equipment. I have noticed though that due to less funding La Trobe university has partnerships with other universities and businesses so they can still provide the same education, it just needs to be done in a way that doesn’t require an extremely large amount of government funding.
Rather than just post another boring, chronological description of today’s activities, I have been inspired to discuss something about which I am exceedingly passionate: the importance of scientific literacy in society. There were two occasions throughout the day today when this thought crossed my mind.
The first was during an interesting and informative presentation by the NUS Vice President (University and Global Relations), Professor Andrew Wee. During the presentation, Professor Wee mentioned that many of the high-ranking politicians in Singapore were trained at NUS. This was mentioned somewhat in passing, however it started me thinking about politicians and scientific literacy. I found it fascinating to hear that many Singaporean politicians are so well educated in fields such as physics, mathematics, engineering etc., when I have had so much experience with general scientific illiteracy in politics. Indeed, it seems that this area of intelligence is very much overlooked in many cases.
I once again began to ponder this topic later on in the day during a short lab demonstration (aimed at high school students). The demonstration included experiments which were designed to highlight various physical phenomena, in the aim of educating youth on the basic physical concepts that govern our universe (although, some of these concepts were actually quite in depth and challenging). Personally, I have always considered a career involving some form of scientific education, and as I enthusiastically watched a liquid nitrogen-cooled superconductor travel around a magnetic track, I felt a surge of inspiration to pursue a career in science education. There is far too much scientific ignorance in society, and I would love to work at reducing that fact in the future.
After all, what could be more rewarding than opening someone’s eyes to the wonderful world of science?