The Science Promotion Unit (SPU) uses creative means to reach out to the community to promote scientific thinking, from an outreach vehicle introducing nanoscience to online platforms explaining the science of everyday life.
At the end of last year, the SPU set up the Gear Up Outreach Vehicle which visits schools and communities under the theme of "Nanoworld".
The interior of the travelling exhibition van is decorated as a medieval home and filled with different nanotechnology products for children to explore, such as nano silver socks that can kill germs and remove odours, and featherlight yet sturdy badminton rackets crafted from carbon nanotubes.
To appeal to youngsters, SPU staff introduce a “magical backpack” with the ability to self-repair. The young visitors try piercing the backpack made out of a special nano fabric and discover it can be repaired simply by rubbing the puncture away.
Four sets of interactive exhibits are also available for visitors to experience the amazing properties of nanomaterials developed in Hong Kong, such as elastomer filaments which can be curled when they are stretched and easily straightened by applying heat and a smart protective material that will instantly harden and become impact resistant after being hit.
The travelling exhibition features comic panels with stories created by local comics artists to introduce nanoscience in a simple yet fascinating way.
“Gear Up” has made 36 stops across the city, including 29 schools, to promote the fun of science.
“We in fact, received quite positive feedback from the audience, and some students told us that the comics are very attractive and they liked them very much,” Science Museum Curator (Science Promotion Unit) Samuel Chui revealed.
Established in 2020, the SPU of the Leisure & Cultural Services Department promotes popular science culture through the use of the department’s network and facilities such as the Science Museum.
The unit’s diversified activities are characterised by four elements: curiosity, creativity, playfulness and collaboration.
In addition to the outreach vehicle, the SPU recently launched the “Gear Up” Science Courier workshop, in which students make handicrafts while learning about science at the same time.
It provides material packs and an online instruction video to schools and youth organisations to enable students to create their own glow-in-the-dark drinks coasters. During the workshop, students discover the difference between fluorescence and phosphorescence, the science behind it and their application in daily life.
To reach a wider audience, the SPU introduced its social media platform QK Post, with “QK” standing for Quest for Knowledge.
The QK Post social media page provides regular content about the science related to daily life and engages the audience by posting questions for them to try and answer.
“We asked the question: How would you separate your fingers if your fingers were stuck together by superglue? We wanted to introduce the science principles behind superglue and how you can use something that is available in your home to separate your fingers,” explained Science Museum Assistant Curator I (Science Promotion Unit) Ann Fung.
Catering to those who do not frequently use social media, the SPU selects interesting QK Posts, converts them into exhibition panels and presents them at the QK Post Roadshow which is travelling to different venues across the city until February next year.
Another creative approach the SPU has employed is QK Microfilm, which presents science in everyday life through storytelling and invites scientists to act alongside artists in the films.
The latest microfilm Dream Frequency tells the heartwarming story of a tone-deaf young girl who dreams of becoming a musician, which also introduces the science behind music.
Mr Chui added that the SPU plans to produce more microfilms and diversified activities to foster science curiosity in the community.