NTU-Taiwan Kang Chiao Bilingual School Immersion, Taiwan
From 09 to 17 November 2014, a group of 24 selected Y3 students, led by Ms Ng Shi Shi and Mr Lim Hwa Chuan and, visited Taipei, Taiwan on a Science and Cultural Immersion trip as part of a partnership with National Taiwan University (NTU) designed by the centre for the Advancement of Science Education (CASE) and Kang Chiao Bilingual School (KCBS), while simultaneously understanding the cultural and science arena in Taiwan. The aims of this trip are to deepen the students’ passion and interest in science by exposing them to the Science education in Taiwan, the fields of scientific research in National Taiwan University and other partnering research institutes, as well as to nurture positive values and attitude towards scientific inquiry in students through the opportunities provided to appreciate the knowledge and facilities beyond Singapore’s education system. It is also a platform created for students to foster international friendships, understand and appreciate the Taiwanese history, culture, education, economics and politics while developing respect for cultural diversity.
The trip started off with a visit to Kang Chiao Bilingual School where the students gained some insight into the education, facilities and learning environment of the school. They also made new friends and got to better understand each other by sharing their experiences. Despite being unfamiliar with attending most classes in Chinese, due to the language difference between the education systems in both countries, it was definitely an enriching experience for all. During the gift-exchange ceremony, the vice-principal of Kang Chiao Bilingual School emphasised on the importance of bilingualism in this modern era and explained that it cannot be overlooked since China has become a stronghold of the worldwide economy and English is the most prevalently used language in the global context. Afterwards, the students had a basketball match alongside Kang Chiao’s basketball team, a school tour around the campus and experienced the life skills programme in KCBS whereby they learnt to make “凤梨酥” and even “珍珠奶茶”. In the end, both the students and their buddies exchanged gifts representative of their country or school and bade farewell to each other while leaving behind memories that not only preserves the friendship between the two schools but also strengthens it.
The next day was followed by a warm welcome in National Taiwan University which introduced the students to taxidermy, the art of dissecting, preparing, studying and stuffing an animal for display as well as educational purposes. The students went on to perform such a scientific process on a white lab rat. Though it was initially perceived as inhumane, the students soon overcame their morals and learnt to conduct taxidermy with caution and respect of the lives sacrificed for the advanced study of its anatomy. The trip continued with a tour around Academia Sinica whereby the students visited the 槟榔特展, Museum of the Institute of History & Philology and 胡适纪念馆. This experience allowed students to get to know more about the local culture, history, misconceptions and influential icons of the country. Then, they were led on a NTU campus tour by CASE representatives, visiting the campus’ Life Science Academy, 校史馆; in the process acquiring a more in depth knowledge on her collection of taxidermized specimens, history and campus life.
On Day 5, the students embarked on a tour to the National Centre for Research and Earthquake Engineering (国家地震工程研究中心, NCREE) to learn more about earthquake management in Taiwan. Various methods have been employed to prevent mass destruction in the event of pandemonium and they visited the factory of NCREE to have a closer look at the essential instruments and machineries used in data collection and analysis. They include a Seismic Simulation Shaking Table, Reaction Wall & Strong Floor as well as a Multi-Axial Testing System (MATS). There was also a workshop on Beaded Molecules where students learnt how to construct C30 and C60 molecules using beads to enhance visual comprehension of a particular molecular structure. It was followed by a trip on Day 6 to the Astronomical Musuem where students gained a deeper insight into the research and learning of astronomy in Taiwan, which was an eye-opener for all. Did you know that a miniature planet named 171381 台北小行星, discovered by Lulin Observatory (台湾国立中央大学鹿林天文台), was recently approved by the International Astronomical Union (IAU). The students proceeded to Shihsanhang Museum of Archaelogy (十三行博物馆) where they gained knowledge concerning the livelihoods of the aborigines who lived in the prehistoric Iron Age, some 500-1800 years ago in Taiwan.
On the final few days, the students visited Suho Paper Museum (树火纸博物馆) where they constructed their own hand-made papers with special designs of Roselle (洛神花) using traditional methods. It was followed by an Exploration Lecture at NTU (The rise and fall of modern medicine, 现代医学的兴起) where the students gained a broader understanding of microorganisms by attending one of the lecture topics: Pathogenic Microbes’ Theory (微生物致病理论).
On the final day, the students went on a hiking trip up 阳明山. There they visited 阳明书屋, a retreat for the late president of Taiwan, Mr Chang Kai-Shek, and 冷水坑. The prominent smell of rotten eggs there was due to the fact that sulfur deposits are present, causing the build up of sulfur dioxide in the air by the dormant volcano at 阳明山. Students then braved the rainy weather and began the trek to climb 阳明山. Despite enduring a slippery and rocky path known as 冷擎步道, the group of 28 people inclusive of the teachers and the guides made it to the summit of the mountain to take in the pictureseque view of the surroundings. The breathtaking landscape and pristine nature that surrounds them enraptured their hearts and allowed them to build a connection with Taiwan’s beauty. The students had their first taste of Taiwan’s night market as well as shopping and fashion district culture at 西门町, 淡水老街, 士林夜市 and 永康街 where the streets were brimmed with local delicacies, shopping outlets and game stalls. In the evening of Day 5, the students proceeded up the tallest building in Taipei – Taipei 101, where the weather cleared up to reveal a fabulous view at the pinnacle of Taipei 101; the night view of Taipei enthralled many students and they brought countless precious memories home.
Excerpts from student reflections:
“Academically, we have been to NTU for several workshops, sessions and lectures, which cover a wide scope of subjects like zoology & biology (dissection), surface chemistry, microbiological history. I have to say that this series of events have indeed deepened my understanding of science as a whole as well as the inter-connection between subjects that would seem to be a little bit distant from each other. Besides, we have travelled to different museums and exhibitions of social sciences. Although they are not really directly linked to the main theme of science, they do help me gain a better understanding of the local culture as well as the development of the human society, which could be the background for different scientific discoveries to be made upon.”
14Y3M Zhang Tianyi
14Y3K Liew Soon Hao
“The videos and demonstrations at the National Centre for Research on Earthquake Engineering proved successful in providing us with a deeper insight into the devastating effects of earthquakes as well as the measures that had been taken to minimize damages caused by earthquakes. On this visit, I was exposed to many photographs depicting the aftermath of earthquakes, and only then was I truly able to comprehend the vulnerability of those living in earthquake zones. It served as a reminder to us all that we should be thankful for the comfortable distance between our country and the nearest of plate boundaries – where earthquakes tend to visit, leaving traces of destruction in their wake.”
14Y3J Nicole Sim Jiaxuan