Wednesday, December 17, 2008 ;
10am - 3pm
Shanghai Science and Technology Museum
Shanghai is awesome! Shanghai is wonderful!
I remember Shanghai as cosmopolitan, having yummy food, and good shopping from my trip in 2000 with my parents and sis. I wasn't married then.
Now, with Dh and kids, we are there on business but we had a few mornings here and there to do something. And with kids, naturally we chose parks and museums. Dh himself had been to Shanghai a couple of times before and so both of us had done the cultural and historical stuff already,
Now, Spore has quite a nice science center, but it's small and crowded. Utah has a couple of lovely kid-friendly museums but nothing of the scale like this. We've seen a couple of other similar centers here and there in Msia, UK and USA. I think the only one (among those we have visited) that can be compared in the same league, would be the Field Museum in Chicago.
I like the Field more because of its history, and because I prefer older buildings. The architecture of the Field is just nicer than a very modern-looking structure. Also, the collection at the Field is larger.
However, I think I would love to live in Shanghai as opposed to Tianjin, simply because I have so many choices when I want to bring the kids out.
The Science museum is one place where you can spend many many days. It has 4 levels including a basement, and is very wide, such that it houses several huge exhibition halls in a single level. It is spacious and clean, and yes, the toilets definitely exceed the standard of most toilets in Tianjin.
Kids have a lot to do here because many of the exhibits are interactive and hands-on. Many are simulated rides, or virtual games, and some allow them to hike as if they are outdoors on an expedition.
Below is a poor-quality pic I took of the virtual soccer game ds1 played. He could stand in a huge room, with a soccer ball, and play against a whole team. The goal keeper on the screen will react to his every kick, and if he got it in, there will be some funny Chinese words on the screen. In this case, the words say "太臭了！".
It's funny and the kids love the action and the cheering.
No worries about long queues too because there are many of such games in the same area, so kids who want to play can try something else first. There are many other sports and ball games to try there too.
This below is at the Robotics hall. There are many many examples of robots and how they work and help Man. In the entertainment section, robots can paint the kids faces and present the paper to them. We can pick a song at the piano robot, and the robot will play it for us. The elderly couple in front of us picked "Happy Birthday to You". When it was our turn, ds1 went and picked a CHinese song none of us knew. Wasn't as fun cos we can't sing along, but it was neat to see how the robot plays everything on the list.
Then ds1 was so thrilled to see this robot that plays something like weiqi with anyone game to take him on. It was so cool. I was so amazed to see how the robot can acknowledge ds1's move, and then take a counter and place it in a very good position. When it was ds1's turn, a counter will automatically come out from a slot and ds1 will play that piece.
And again, the robot was able to give a good counter-move. It's different from a computer game, because you actually see the robot move and react.
When it won, it even showed ds1 why, by pointing out the area where he used his counter to form 4 in a row.
Then there was this boxing game. You just box as hard and fast as you can, then your boxing speed is calculated for you. Kids somehow love to hit hard. There were 2 boxing stations, one for kids, one for adults. So every step of the way, kids are thought of and planned for. Nice.
Below shows the archery area where those above 15 can try their hands at shooting arrows with a bow and learning the science behind it. The kids dearly wanted to, but can't cos they're too young. So the sacrificial me accompanied them while their dad went to play.
Me and kids at foyer. It has a nice design, very futuristic and modern. The view through the glass dome is beautiful and you can see far far off.
A group of school children having their excursion to the science museum. Some of them are very adorable.
Schools in China have this scarf tradition. Correct me if I am wrong, my dear ex-students from China... I understand from some friends that when the P1 kids enter the school, they have to display certain qualities the school emphasises on, and then they get a red scarf during a grand ceremony, sometimes during a big school function, like Sports Day.
It is like an investiture, where the P2s will help their buddies in P1 wear the red scarf. Once they receive the red scarf, then they can wear it to school everyday after that.
It's not compulsory but many kids will wear it with pride, because their senior handed it to them, and because they did well enough to earn that "badge".
I think it is a nice tradition.
In Tianjin, I see lots of students wearing scarves. Sometimes different levels wear a certain color. And now in Shanghai, I see them wearing the little scarves too, like scouts. So cute.
The Space Exhibition Hall. This pic displays several of China's space shuttles, USA's one and another country's (Russia?).
The Space Hall and the AV Discovery Hall had the most things you can actually try out. For example, in the Space Hall, you can go onto this simulator (individually), which will then spin and turn and you are given time to shoot at a target. It is to show how difficult it is to aim or do things accurately in space.
The kids were too short to try that. Had to be 1.4m and above.
This pic below shows another section where you can get into the harness and then the ride will simulate how it is gravity-less in space. You can float and hop like there is no force pulling you down. Cool, but again with a height minimum restriction.
Finally found something both boys tried. In this room, you first stand on step 1, which will weigh you and your mass will be displayed on the screen (which ds1 is intently fixated upon).
Then you stand on step 2, and the "game" will begin where you pretend you are navigating a space ship in outer space. You will pass through the different planets (shown on screen) and you move your body from side to side to get closer to the planet you want to land on. Then you can focus and land on the planet, and once you land, your mass on that planet will be calculated.
There are sound effects and music too. A voice will read out the names of the planets you land on. There is a time limit and after you try a few planets, they'll announce that your turn is over.
ds1 did it properly the 1st try, and since there was no one else in the queue, he went again and anyhow move his body everywhere, to make himself spin around and around in galaxy. That silly boy.
Then we moved on the The Human Body. There was a fun ride in this section, to my surprise. Because I didn't expect rides a la Disneyland to be in here.
This ride allows 4 in a car, so it was just nice for our family. We were strapped in and off we went. The car brought us through a huge mouth with teeth, and we set off in a journey into the body's digestive system.
It was fun for the kids, who shrieked as the car spun around and moved backwards sometimes. However, when the car was in the stomach and intestines, the ride really simulated the churning of food (us) pretty well. The car kept turning from side to side, which made me very dizzy!
We wore 3D spects too, and ds1 kept trying to "catch" the enzymes and food particles that seemed to be coming at him. haha. ds2 refused to wear the glasses. So he didn't see that effect. He probably wondered why all the images on the walls of the GI tract (actually screens with projected images) are so blurry, since he didn't wear the glasses throughout.
Sometimes the car dropped a bit in height and the kids liked that too.
However, I must say the ending where we reached the rectum and anus was a little gross and disgusting. They intentionally made it so, because kids like all things gross and disgusting, but I think a lot of adult Westerners will cringe and think it is distasteful, with all the poo-ing images and farting noises and so on going on there. Towards the end, we had a sudden jet spray of water on our faces when a loud fart occured. We were then ejected out of the body like faeces too.
The kids wanted TO GO AGAIN! I was feeling queasy already and said no thanks. Dh didn't feel like it too. haha.
Oops, another photo about the robotics. This time there are puppy robots and you can teach them something (like show flash cards) and train them to do the thing you want. You can even raise up Math sums on the cards provided to you, and the dogs can answer them correctly.
We saved the Children's Science Area for the last, so that they can stay for as long as they wanted.
Forgot to say we took a break for lunch at the food court in the museum. They have a system like Marche, where you use a card to order different kinds of food in the large court. It is large and spacious, but the ambience is different from Marche. Food is ok only, but of course the prices are much lower than Marche's.
After lunch we let the kids go wild in the Children's Area. They have water-play areas, discovery areas, hands-on and interactive exhibits etc.
This below was very very popular, so there was a queue. What is it?
A huge construction site where you don a helmet and get to use pulleys, levers, cranes, etc to build structures. The house you see on the right side of the pic has bricks you can remove from the walls and then piece back too. The frame is there, you just fit the bricks in.
ds1 is shown kneeling on the floor of the 2nd storey, pulling a basket up to fill it with stuff and then lowering it down to the guys below.
That's a corner of the Children's Science area.
There is also a play gym structure spanning several levels that the kids can climb up, move through obstacles and then slide down through a tunnel slide. A little like what Go Go Bambini and Fidgets and Frisk n Romp in Singapore has.
Only this is all included in the admission of the science museum. Very very worth it.
They also have IMAX movies which you have to pay extra for. We didn't because there wasn't time for them and the kids may not understand all the science behind the movies yet.
So all we paid was 60 yuan for adults and 25 yuan for the kids. Very reasonable, considering we spent 3/4 of the day and haven't seen everything.
A cave where the kids can walk through and learn about plants. And climb up the hill to learn more about agriculture and photosynthesis.
Both ds loved the Spiders Hall and then this Animal World shown below. It's like the Natural History section with all the animals, in life-size and in their daily life positions, eating, sleeping, mating, playing... Very beautiful and realistic.
One example would be this tiger (predator) chasing his prey. There were other animals who caught their prey and had the prey in between the jaws. And other animals, like the hyenas, who were devouring half a deer, and a vulture picking at a carcass.
Then there were the young babies nursing from the mother, and territorial fights, and mating dances. All depicted very well. Like a still motionless story.
As we walked on, some sections brought us into caves with bats, and caverns with huge insects and spiders. Some sections brought us to the World of Birds. And this below is the Underwater World.
Below the ground are some fish too, and along the sides, they show life in different water bodies (streams and rivers; lakes and ponds; estuarine areas; sea and deep sea.)
We enjoyed this last part a lot! There was this section totally like a rainforest. The nature trail was so realistic too, like we were really hiking outdoors on a dirt trail. There were canopy walks through the forest too, and many plant species to see. All not real but you really cannot tell!
Oh, how the kids miss the hiking. Both of them kept running and climbing ahead of us. It was quite a long windy trail, and both kids loved it so much they wanted to do it all over again but it was 3pm already. That's ds2 below. ds1 had already disappeared around the corner ahead of us.
Annual membership with the museum will make it so worthwhile to visit repeatedly. Ahhh, why aren't we stationed in Shanghai??
rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow